Can You Eat Sardines Every Day? — Yes, But… (2023)

Canned sardines are a dietary staple. Sardines are packed full of minerals, protein, Omega fatty acids, and vitamins like B12. As a result, people often assume that they’re super healthy to eat, which is true, but can you eat canned sardines every day? Is it safe to do so?

Can You Eat Sardines Every Day? — Yes, But… (1)

In this post, I will cover the benefits of eating canned fish and the dangers of eating too much of it, and which type of canned fish is the healthiest.

Contents show

How Often Should You Be Eating Sardines?

Can You Eat Sardines Every Day? — Yes, But… (2)

Though sardines are healthy and very nutritious, they do contain low levels of mercury and sodium. Therefore, canned sardines should be eaten in moderation — notevery day. It would be perfectly OK and even beneficial to eat one can of sardines 2-3 times a week as a part of a balanced diet.

So, what would happen if you eat them every day?

Most likely, you will be fine. There just aren’t any studies to conclusively show if eating more than a recommended amount will do you any harm or give you any extra benefits.

Based on the current research, most of the benefit comes from moving from eating no fish at all to eating fish once or twice a week. And if you do decide to eat sardines more than 3 times a week instead of eating junk food, I would say you would definitely be better off. [1]

While it might be safe to eat sardines or many other fish every day, the truth is that your diet should follow a rule of ‘everything in moderation.’ There certainly are some concerns that eating canned sardines every day may be detrimental to your health rather than supporting a healthy lifestyle.

So, let’s look at some of theprosandconsof eating sardines and canned fish in general so that you can make a sensible decision.

Why Should You Eat Canned Sardines?

Can You Eat Sardines Every Day? — Yes, But… (3)

Eating fish, in general, is very good for you in numerous ways, especially if it comes to cold-water oily fish such assardines.

Here are some of the benefit of eating canned sardines:

  • Lots of omega-3 fatty acids, good for blood pressure and heart health.
  • Vitamin B12, helping the cardiovascular system.
  • Vitamin D for bone health.
  • Calcium for bone health.
  • Minerals like niacin, iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus.
  • Protein, which helps you build healthy bones and muscles.

As you can see, canned sardines are super healthy and contain lots of excellent nutrients. However, many consumers wonder whether canned sardines provide the same levels of nutrients as their fresh alternatives.

Furthermore, some consumers are concerned about levels of mercury and sodium in their canned fish.

Are these things really problems for our health?

Read Also: 8 Incredible Omega 3 Rich Vegan Foods You May Not Have Known About!

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Canned Fish?

Canned fish has several advantages over fresh fish. Many of these are, perhaps surprisingly, related to the health benefits – I’ll get into those later. However, canned fish is worth more than just its nutritional value. Here are some other advantages.

Pros of Canned Fish

  • It’s often cheaper than fresh fish, such as tuna steaks.
  • Usually, canned fish is quicker and easier to work with than a whole fish.
  • Canned seafood stays fresh for longer, meaning you can store it in the pantry. You don’t even need to take up freezer space!
  • There are lots of fish species to choose from in supermarkets.
  • Canned fish is convenient because you don’t have to spend time preparing the fish.

It’s not all rosy, though. There are also a few downsides.

Cons of Canned Fish

  • Sometimes, canned fish is stored in oil. This isn’t ideal if you’re on a low-fat diet. It also increases the calories.
  • Canned fish is more likely to be wild-caught. In some cases, this is a good thing. In others, it depletes fish stocks and is less sustainable. Depending on the fishing method, it may also harm other wildlife.
  • Those who prefer to eat fresh ingredients may not like to use food that is already processed.

The benefits often outweigh the negatives here, especially since many canned fish products these days are sustainable and eco-friendly. It’s a simple matter of checking the label.

In many cases, consumers are wary of the health content of canned fish, too. Is it healthy for you?

Canned vs. Fresh Fish

You’ll be pleased to hear that canned fish and fresh fish are one and the same. The USDA study also discovered that canned pink salmon containedmoreomega 3s than fresh salmon. [2]

In other words, canned fish is no worse for you than fresh fish. At least in terms of nutrition, the two are virtually the same. However, as I mentioned earlier, there are some differences when it comes to convenience, storage, and price.

What About Mercury?

Many people are now aware that the mercury levels in fish could present a risk for your health. Although mercury is acceptable in low doses, high amounts can be toxic. [3]

Unfortunately, mercury can also accumulate in the body over time. Fish are exposed to mercury due to water pollution, and then we humans ingest mercury when we eat seafood.

Some fish species can be quite high in mercury, including swordfish, albacore tuna, marlin, king mackerel, and northern pike.

Eating mercury can cause numerous health issues, but you would have to eat alotof seafood to experience mercury poisoning. It’s still worth noting that children and women are more at risk. In particular, girls and women should be careful eating fish with lots of mercury, as it can lead to infertility or problems with fetuses during pregnancy. [4]

Fortunately, mercury is much less of a problem in smaller fish like sardines, which are relatively low in mercury compared to many other fish species. Sardines contain an average of 0.013 ppm of mercury; compare this with swordfish, which contains 0.995 ppm.

What About Sodium?

Canned fish also tends to be high in salt, meaning lots of sodium. For example, 3 ounces (85 g) of canned tuna contains 300 mg of sodium, and sardines can contain anywhere between 250-350 mg of sodium per one can of 3.75 ounces (92 g). [5]As you can see, eating lots of canned fish can lead to a very high sodium intake, which can be bad for you.

Eating high amounts of sodium can lead to high blood pressure, putting increased strain on your heart. So, for the sake of your heart health, it’s important to keep sodium levels low.

Once more, it’s essential to note that eating 2-3 cans of sardines a week won’t hurt you. However, eating canned sardines every day is probably not a good idea due to the small amounts of mercury and sodium that will build up over time.

Read Also: 5 Clever Ways to Fix Over-Salted Food

Which Canned Fish Is the Healthiest?

Can You Eat Sardines Every Day? — Yes, But… (4)

All canned fish is healthy in its own way. As a result, defining the ‘healthiest’ canned fish is no easy feat – it depends on your diet and what you are trying to achieve. That said, some picks are thought to have a high health rating that makes them beneficial for most people.

  1. Atlantic Mackerel:Mackerel is high in both omega 3s and omega 6s, making it superb for heart health. It also has very low mercury levels, making it a super healthy canned fish. Not to be confused with King Mackerel, which should be avoided.
  2. Sardines:Coming in at second place is sardines. This species is high in lots of nutrients that we don’t often get elsewhere. It also has a relatively low mercury content and is packed with omega-3 fatty acids.
  3. Skipjack tuna: In third place is skipjack tuna, which is thought to decrease blood pressure and reduce heart disease risk. Skipjack tuna has a lot lower mercury levels than albacore tuna.

Sardines and tuna are often canned in different substances, and this can alter their perceived healthiness. For example, it’s common for tuna to come in water, brine, or oil. While brine is less fatty, it’s higher in salt; and while oil is less salty, it’s higher in fat. Select a product that fits with your dietary needs.

How Are Sardines Canned?

Can You Eat Sardines Every Day? — Yes, But… (5)

Sardines are canned at a place called the ‘cannery.’ First, the workers remove the heads and tales and place the fish in the cans. Then the sardines are cook by steaming, oil or sauce is added, and the cans are sealed and sterilized, and boxed for shipping.

The canning process may vary from factory to factory. Sometimes the fish is fried instead of steaming, and olive oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil is added. Also, tomato, chili, and mustard sauces are popular options. The oil or sauce acts as a preservative to keep the fish fresh even when out of the fridge.

Watch this short Discovery Channel video below to see exactly how it is done.

Should We Drain Out the Oil or the Sauce?

If your sardines have come in a sauce, and you like the extra flavor, leave the sauce in your meal. Just keep in mind that sauce can add some extra salt and also calories as it may contain sugar and other carbohydrates.

Can You Eat Sardines Every Day? — Yes, But… (6)

However, if your sardines are packaged in oil, the choice is yours. Some people prefer to leave the oil on because they like the taste. But bear in mind that oil adds extra fats to your meal. It can be healthy depending on the oil, though; olive oil can be good for you and add additional nutrients.

Of course, you can alwaysdrainthe oil or the sauceout. The best way to remove the oil is to strain as much of itout as you can and then place the sardines onto a thin layer on a paper towel, which will absorb most of the remaining oil.

How to Store Canned Sardines After Opening?

Sometimes, you open the tin and wonder what to do with the leftover sardines.

Opened canned fish should be treated in the same manner as for regular fish. Once opened, refrigerate leftover sardines in a tightly covered plastic or glass container for up to two days. It is best not to leave the sardines in the opened can, as it may become rusty or give out a metallic taste.

You can keep an unopened can of sardines in a cool, dark place such as a cupboard. An unopened tin can be stored for up to many years.

Final Thoughts

Canned sardines are healthy seafood packed with nutrients. Although sardines are good for you, you should avoid eating them every day; like most fish, sardines contain trace amounts of mercury and sodium.

As long as you enjoy sardines in moderation and in accordance with your diet, you should be fine.


Can You Eat Sardines Every Day? — Yes, But…? ›

Can you eat sardines every day? You should eat at least one portion (140 grams or 4½ ounces) of fish every week, and sardines are a good choice because of their plentiful nutrients. But oily fish generally collect higher levels of contaminants than other types of seafood.

Is it safe to eat sardines everyday? ›

Sardines are high in protein, rich in omega-3 fatty acids (associated with heart health benefits), and filled with certain important vitamins (especially D and B12) and minerals (such as calcium). However, sardines packed in oil are high in sodium and cholesterol, so daily consumption of them is not advisable.

How many times a week should you eat sardines? ›

A Harvard study found that consuming just one to two servings of sardines every week provides enough omega-3 fatty acids to reduce your chances of heart disease by more than one-third. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Is it okay to eat sardines 3 times a week? ›

Since they're shelf-stable, they're a good source of nutrients to keep in your pantry at all times. To reap the benefits without overdoing it, you'll want to aim for two to three servings of fatty fish, like sardines per week, per the American Heart Association (AHA).

How many cans of sardines can you eat a week? ›

The FDA recommends a weekly intake of two to three servings of sardines, or 8 to 12 ounces for adults and 4 to 6 ounces for children age 4 to 7. The FDA recognizes the health benefits of eating fish, especially for pregnant people and young children. Pregnant people can eat up to 12 ounces per week.

Who eats 5 cans of sardines a day? ›

Entrepreneur and VC Craig Cooper swears by eating 5 cans of sardines a day. (And loves a 22-minute power nap.) Being an entrepreneur means doing things differently: Creating new products and services. Finding new ways to solve old problems.

Are sardines better in water or oil? ›

Water-packed sardines just won't have the same rich flavor and can taste a bit water-logged. Oil, however, locks in the fish's flavor and keeps each sardine super-moist. Opt for olive oil, rather than other oils, as its savory characteristics really complement the sardines.

Are sardines or tuna better for you? ›

Still, tuna is high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamins B and A. This fish is also a good source of iron, phosphorous, and selenium. Sardines do not have a lot of mercury in them, so they're healthier in that regard.

Is eating canned sardines healthy? ›

Sardines are a type of small, oily fish that contain a lot of important nutrients. Both fresh and canned sardines have health benefits, including helping to fight inflammation and supporting the health of your heart, bones, and immune system.

Which fish is safe to eat daily? ›

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that to consume those higher amounts, children should only be fed fish from the “Best Choices” list that are even lower in mercury – these fish are anchovies, Atlantic mackerel, catfish, clams, crab, crawfish, flounder, haddock, mullet, oysters, plaice, pollock, salmon, ...

Are sardines better than salmon? ›

Sardines contain significantly less mercury than salmon, so even if you had two standard-sized cans of sardines (~3 ounces / ~84 grams drained), that's still only ~6 ounces of a safer fish in terms of heavy metals. In fact, you could have 4–5 cans of sardines and still be safe!

Do sardines raise cholesterol? ›

Similar to shrimp, sardines are a potent seafood source of cholesterol. An ounce of sardines contains as much as 40 milligrams of cholesterol, and it's easy to eat more than an ounce at a time.

Do sardines lower blood pressure? ›

Omega-3 is key

Researchers have found that oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon, sardines or mussels, could help protect our hearts and brains from disease. They are found to be rich in an important type of polyunsaturated fat called omega-3, which has been shown to help lower blood pressure.

Are sardines a superfood? ›

You may be surprised to learn that sardines are one of the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet. They're loaded with vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which offer amazing health benefits.

Are sardines good for your heart? ›

Sardines & Salmon

The reason is simple: they contain omega-3 fatty acids, which lower the risk of blood clots, reduce the incidence of irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias), and cut down on the amount of fat (or triglycerides) in your blood.

Are sardines good for the elderly? ›

Sardines are sometimes recommended for pregnant women and older adults. They contain calcium and other vital nutrients.

Are sardines anti aging? ›

Sardines are one of the most powerful anti-aging foods to help you get enough vitamin D.

Why do men eat sardines? ›

They are actually very rich in: Omega-3 fatty acids. This source of healthy fat is popular for its known benefits to heart health. In addition to this, studies have shown that it may help with the prevention and management of erectile dysfunction, an issue that may occur in men as they age if they are not proactive.

What is the healthiest way to eat sardines? ›

Ways to Eat Sardines (Without Gagging)
  1. Straight out of the can with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  2. On healthier crackers with a little bit of cheese.
  3. On a Caesar salad with homemade or avocado oil Caesar dressing.
  4. Mashed into half of an avocado with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

What are the disadvantages of canned sardines? ›

Four Problems with Canned Sardines
  • Canned sardines are high in salt and low in potassium. ...
  • There are fewer vitamins and minerals in canned sardines. ...
  • They're packed in pro-inflammatory oils. ...
  • They may contain oxidized cholesterol.
Aug 6, 2022

Should I drain the oil in canned sardines? ›

Drain the oil out of the can.

Sometimes a recipe will tell you to use the oil straight from the sardine can– and I regularly use the canned oil in my cooking. However, keep in mind that the oil from the can will taste fishier than fresh oil.

Do you eat the bones in canned sardines? ›

Sardines with bones and skin are delicious, too, and they look awesome on top of a salad or platter. P.S. The bones and skin are both edible. Those tiny bones deliver calcium too!

Are sardines or chicken healthier? ›

While they are both excellent sources of protein and add to your nutrient profile, the benefits of fish tend to be slightly higher than chicken, especially when it comes to the Omega-3 content in it.

Can you eat all of a canned sardine? ›

You can buy tinned sardines that are skinless and boneless, but the skin and bones are completely edible, supply a good amount of sardines' calcium content, and are soft enough that most people don't even mind (or notice) them.

Which canned sardines are healthiest? ›

The 7 Healthiest Sardines Brands in 2023 +Benefits
  • Matiz Sardines in Olive Oil, Value Pack.
  • Vital Choice Wild Sardines in Olive Oil.
  • King Oscar Wild Caught Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  • SANTO AMARO European Wild Sardines in Tomato Sauce.
  • Vital Choice Wild Sardines.
  • Season Brand Sardines in Water.
  • Connetable.

What fish should you not eat too much of? ›

Don't eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish (sometimes called golden bass or golden snapper) because they contain high levels of mercury. Eat up to 12 ounces (two average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.

Why can't you eat fish every day? ›

While eating fish has nutritional benefits, it also has potential risks. Fish can take in harmful chemicals from the water and the food they eat. Chemicals like mercury and PCBs can build up in their bodies over time. High levels of mercury and PCBs can harm the brain and nervous system.

Which fish is best but not too much? ›

Best: Lean Fish

For example, low-fat fish like tilapia, cod, flounder, and sole have fewer than 120 calories in a 3-ounce serving and give you plenty of protein. If you don't like fish but want to get more seafood into your diet, tilapia and cod can be a good starting point. Neither has much of a fishy taste.

Are sardines healthier than beef? ›

A study places salmon, sardines and anchovies among the most beneficial types of fish due to their high protein content. Grilled, boiled or steamed, fish is nutritionally far more highly recommended than meat. In fact, there's little that can trump it.

Are Atlantic or Pacific sardines better? ›

Usually, Pacific sardines are considered a better choice than Atlantic or Mediterranean, because fishing them leaves little bycatch and has low habitat impact. Wild Planet sardines are firm and meaty, with a smoked taste, and the fish used for cans is slightly bigger than that used by other manufacturers.

Are sardines in a can raw or cooked? ›

Canned sardines

At the cannery, the fish are washed, their heads are removed, and the fish are then smoked or cooked, either by deep-frying or by steam-cooking, after which they are dried. They are then packed in either olive, sunflower, or soybean oil, water, or in a tomato, chili, or mustard sauce.

Which country makes the best sardines? ›

The Best Canned Sardines are from Portugal

It's a versatile and simple ingredient. Try it straight from the can, as a salad topping, or on a slice of bread. Sardines are also good for your health and can be enjoyed in picnics with some Portuguese wine or even served in gourmet restaurants.

Why are canned sardines so good? ›


Sardines provide 2 grams of heart-healthy omega-3s per 3 ounce serving, which is one of the highest levels of omega-3 and the lowest levels of mercury of any fish. They contain a great source of calcium and Vitamin D, so they support bone health, too.

Are Costco sardines good for you? ›

This week's grocery spotlight features another one of our favorite Costco finds. Sardines often get a bad rap, but around here we love them for their stellar nutrition profile. Each can contains just 240 calories, 29g of protein and is an excellent source of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Does sardines spike blood sugar? ›

Getting plenty of fatty, cold-water fish is critical for everyone, but especially diabetics. Sardines are high in omega-3's, are a great source of fat and protein and may help to slow the absorption of blood sugar when eaten with carbohydrates.

Are sardines bad for LDL? ›

The best in terms of lowering cholesterol are tuna, salmon, and swordfish. Sardines and halibut are good options, too.

Why do I feel so good after eating sardines? ›


Omega 3s are good fats, and contributes to about 30% the brain's weight, and alter dopamine and serotonin, which are brain chemicals linked to mood.

What is the number one food that causes high blood pressure? ›

Salt or sodium

Salt, or specifically the sodium in salt, is a major contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease. This is because of how it affects fluid balance in the blood. Table salt is around 40 percent sodium. Some amount of salt is important for health, but it's easy to eat too much.

Are sardines good for blood circulation? ›

Fatty Fish containing high levels of omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, trout, sardines, and herring helps release nitric oxide into your body dilating your blood vessels and increasing the blood flow.

Why do bodybuilders eat sardines? ›

This is health-promoting seafood you can eat to naturally increase muscle mass. There are several potent minerals in sardine that can trigger the production of hormones involved in muscle growth. The muscle-boosting nutrients in sardine include protein, omega-3fats, calcium, selenium, vitamin B12, and many more.

Can I eat canned fish everyday? ›

Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease —but “in the context of a varied diet, [tinned fish] likely won't make too much of a difference,” Rumsey says. Basically, if you don't eat it every day, at every meal, you're probably good.

What are the benefits of sardines for the liver? ›

Salmon, sardines, tuna, and trout are all high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower the levels of fat in the liver and reduce inflammation. It is also a healthy alternative to meat as it provides protein while giving you the opportunity to avoid consuming the fats and skins from meat or poultry.

Do sardines clean arteries? ›

Cold-water fish: Cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna can help clear arteries. Rich in healthy fats, they help improve overall cholesterol by lowering triglyceride levels and increasing HDL cholesterol.

Does eating oatmeal help clean arteries? ›

Oats. Oats are an excellent choice for those who have atherosclerosis or are trying to prevent clogged arteries. Eating oats can help significantly reduce atherosclerosis risk factors, including high levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol ( 39 ).

How can I get B12 naturally? ›

Good sources of vitamin B12
  1. meat.
  2. fish.
  3. milk.
  4. cheese.
  5. eggs.
  6. some fortified breakfast cereals.

How healthy is canned sardines? ›


Sardines provide 2 grams of heart-healthy omega-3s per 3 ounce serving, which is one of the highest levels of omega-3 and the lowest levels of mercury of any fish. They contain a great source of calcium and Vitamin D, so they support bone health, too.

Are sardines healthier than tuna? ›

Still, tuna is high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamins B and A. This fish is also a good source of iron, phosphorous, and selenium. Sardines do not have a lot of mercury in them, so they're healthier in that regard. They mostly survive on plankton.

Are sardines healthier than salmon? ›

Sardines contain significantly less mercury than salmon, so even if you had two standard-sized cans of sardines (~3 ounces / ~84 grams drained), that's still only ~6 ounces of a safer fish in terms of heavy metals. In fact, you could have 4–5 cans of sardines and still be safe!

Is sardines high in mercury? ›

Sardines are a type of small, oily fish that live all over the world in the Mediterranean, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. They are a member of the herring family. They are a low-mercury fish, making them safe to eat during pregnancy and lactation (nursing).

What is the cleanest fish in the world? ›

HERRING. These silvery fish are not only affordable and full of omega-3s, but herring has minimal mercury content, making it one of the cleanest and safest ocean fish to eat, says Derocha.

Who should not eat sardines? ›

Health precautions for eating sardines

People who have kidney problems or gout should avoid sardines. They naturally contain a substance that creates uric acid. Uric acid buildup can cause kidney and gout issues for those who are already susceptible. Canned sardines are high in salt.

Are sardines bad for high blood pressure? ›

Researchers have found that oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon, sardines or mussels, could help protect our hearts and brains from disease. They are found to be rich in an important type of polyunsaturated fat called omega-3, which has been shown to help lower blood pressure.


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