Weekly sardines: The benefits of canned fish

Image of sardines cooking at the beach in Spain.

Fresh sardines cooking at the beach in Spain. Credit: Alfonso de Tomas/Shutterstock.com

As it turns out, all sardines are nutritious, even the canned ones. Researchers at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona have concluded that two cans of sardines in olive oil per week can help prevent type-2 diabetes in people over the age of 65. 

Nutrient-Rich fish

As fresh seafood, sardines can be a savoury, protein-rich addition to Caesar salads, pasta dishes, or enjoyable on their own. While fresh sardines are seasonal, reaching peak abundance between the months of July and November, they can typically be found in stores all year round. According to a report by 20minutos, the fresh ones have a higher healthy fat content than their canned counterparts and are sometimes tastier, but experts urge the consumption of sardines of all varieties, including the canned ones. 

In the study, the Barcelona researchers introduced the two cans of sardines to a group of people over the age of 65 with prediabetes, meaning they have high blood glucose levels and run the risk of developing diabetes in the future. Another, statistically identical group was not given the sardines, and based on the results, researchers were able to confirm that the sardine-rich diet was instrumental in preventing the former group from developing diabetes. 

To Can Or Not To Can

Canned or not, sardines are an incredible source of nutrients like vitamin A, D, and B12, as well as minerals like iodine, selenium, phosphorus, and taurine. Not to mention their richness in omega 3 fatty acids, which are key in warding off cardiovascular disease and keeping healthy cholesterol levels. 

One of the reasons that canned sardines are so nutritious is that they can be eaten whole, skeletons and all. Sardine skeletons are rich in the aforementioned nutrients as well as calcium. Additionally, the canning process – for which aluminium is typically used – helps preserve the fish’s nutrients in ways that other preservation methods do not.  

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Written by

Cole Sinanian