They are the healthiest fish you can eat. Sardines are small silvery fish in the herring family that contain more omega-3 fatty acids than the same amount of salmon. And they have some of the lowest levels of mercury and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination compared with other fish, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. Sardines are jam-packed with protein, vitamin D, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and selenium. They are economical, easy to prepare and intensely flavorful.
Sardines are available in cans as well as fresh or frozen from fish markets and online. If you get sardines in cans, it’s best to seek out those from companies using BPA-free cans—these include Vital Choice and Wild Planet Foods.
Canned sardines are available in tomato sauce, mustard, oil or water. For the least calories and sodium, buy them packed in water. If they are packed in oil, check out the type of oil. Olive oil is always a better choice than vegetable oil.
You can find fresh sardines at some fish markets, and fresh and frozen sardines online at companies such as I Love Blue Sea.
Serving sardines: You can grill fresh, whole sardines…or cook them on the stovetop in olive oil with a splash of lemon. Canned sardines are extremely versatile—serve them on crackers…add them to salads, pastas or pizza…or mash them with mustard and onion. Yum!