Health benefits and Side effects of Sardine fish

Edited By Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati

Sardine (Family Clupeidae) is a small pelagic fish and one of the most important food items in the diets which are prepared, cooked and used as canned food. It is also known as pilchard feeds mainly on a variety of phytoplankton. This fish is mainly distributed in the northeastern Atlantic from the North Sea to Senegal and throughout most of the Mediterranean Sea and found all over the world.

The length of sardine is range from 15-29 cm and lives up to 10 years but mostly valuable at about 4-5 years. The most common species is Sardina pilchardus, Sardinops caeruleus, Sardinops ocellatus, Sardinops melanostictus, Sardinella aurita (1).

Saradine is highly nutritious with its unique flavor and low in calorie. This fish can be used as a fish steaks, snacks, and processed preserve food, protein hydrolysates and oil (2).

Research evidence: Sardine fish is listed top 11 fish species by the American Heart Association because it contains an adequate amount of omega-3 which is needed for human diet (3).

Nutritional value of Sardine

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), sardines offer a good source of protein, minerals, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and other components as follows (4).

Compound                                                                       Amounts per 100 g.
Water 59.61 g
Energy                                                                        208 kcal
Protein 24.62 g
Total lipid (  Fat)s 11.45 g
Carbohydrates 0 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Sugar 0 g
Calcium 382 mg
Iron 2.92 mg
Magnesium 39 mg
Phosphorous 490 mg
Potassium 397 mg
Sodium 307 mg
Zinc 1.31 mg
Folates 10 µg
Niacin 5.24 mg
Riboflavin 0.22 mg
Vitamin B-12 8.94 µg
Vitamin B-6 0.17 mg
Vitamin A 108 IU
Vitamin E 2.04 mg
Vitamin C 0 mg
Vitamin D (D2+D3) 4.8 µg
Vitamin K 2.6 µg
Fatty acid saturated 1.52 g
Fatty acid monounsaturated 3.86 g
Fatty acid polyunsaturated 5.15 g
Cholesterol 142 mg

Health benefits of Sardine

1. Sardine fish benefits for pregnant and lactating mothers

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Omega-3 fatty acids and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in Sardine are major essential components. These are very important during pregnancy as it ensures proper development of the offspring. Therefore consumption of sardine is beneficial to maintain EPA and DHA balance in body (4).

2. Sardine is good for heart

Omega 3 fatty acids is a long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (FA) such as Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) present in sardine  have beneficial action for the reduction of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk (5).

Sardine protein also reducing lipid peroxidation and enhancing catalase activity against oxidative stress caused by dietary cholesterol specifically in the heart (6).

3. Sardine is beneficial in the prevention of Diabetes

Sardine fish contains protein known as taurine which reduce metabolic syndrome like hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, hyperlipidemia, oxidation and inflammation. Thus sardine protein may be helpful against insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic patient (7).

5. Cholesterol can be controlled by eating Sardine fish

Omega 3 fatty acids found in sardine fish lowers blood cholesterol LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Therefore, consumption of sardine fish is beneficial in reducing the cholesterol levels on hypercholesterolemic patient (8).

6. Eating Sardine helps in lowering Hypertension

Research study suggested that valyl-tyrosine peptide a type of protein, obtained by sardine muscle hydrolysate can reduce blood pressure (systolic and diastolic) and tissue oxidative damage without any adverse effects (9).

7. Sardine is rich in antioxidants

High antioxidants, protein from sardine such as proline, leucine, glycine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, trypsin and valine, and amino acids provides protection against oxidative stress and enhances the immunity of the body (10).

It also contain selenium which protect from various chronic disease and increasing health span. Therefore, sardine fish consumption would induce and boost immune responses (11).

8. Sardine lowers the risk of age related macular degeneration

Blindness is one of the age-related macular degeneration (AMD) diseases. Supplementation of antioxidants such as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) present in sardine fish may decrease the risk for age related macular degeneration (12).

9. Anti cancer benefits of Sardine

Consumption of sardine may helpful in suppressing variety of tumor and promotes apoptosis. It contains high amount of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids—docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA) which act as cancer preventative agents against different cancer (13).

One study show that after prostate cancer diagnosis diet rich in healthy fats such as sardines recommended for men may lower risk of mortality (14).

10. Lower risk of Mercury contamination

Sardine fish is good source of protein and unsaturated fats which is essential for human diet. Research study suggested that a person intake 480.76 g of sardine even from polluted water may lower the risk of contaminants (Hg toxicity) and receive great amount of nutrients such as  Mg, Fe, Cu, Zn, Mo, Ca, P, Se which are important to human diet, disease prevention and health improvement (15).

11. Sardine is good for bones

Sardine is rich source of vitamin D (300 to 600 units/3.5 ounce), calcium and omega-3 fatty acids which may have beneficial effect on decreasing fracture risk, fast healing process and prevent osteoporosis (16).

12. Glowing healthy skin

Sardine fish contain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid which posses photoprotective effect and show anti-inflammatory activity against UVB-induced erythema (17). Therefore, sardine fish oil can be used for cosmetic and dermatological uses because sardine oil penetrated into the skin and protect from harmful radiation (18).

13. Eating sardine helps in the prevention of obesity

Sardine fish is rich in protein and omega 3 fatty acids which may have a stronger satiating effect compared with beef and chicken protein. Thus, consumption of sardine fish may helpful of reducing appetite, food intake, obesity and metabolic disorders (19).

Side effects of Sardine

1. Sardine fish allergy

Improper refrigeration causes bacterial growth in Sardine fish. These bacteria convert protein into histamine which can cause an allergic reaction. If you feel uneasy such as flushing, itch, hives (urticaria), nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, dizziness, palpitations, and headache within 30 minutes of eating consult your doctor immediately (20)

2. Avoid canned Sardine

Sardine is used as a canned fish which may undergo deteriorative changes during heat processing and subsequent storage. Moreover, canned fish are low acid food which encourages the growth of Clostridium botulinum (heat-tolerant microorganism) and produces toxin. Therefore canned fish has a high risk of contamination, precaution should be needed.

Healthy Recipe of Sardine

Grilled and fry sardine fish


  1. Fish of medium size
  2. Salt
  3. Coriander powder
  4. Cumin powder
  5. Turmeric powder
  6. Curd or Yogurt


  1. Make a paste of salt, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric and yogurt
  2. Apply the paste all over the fish and keep it for at least 5 to 10 mins
  3. Now heat little oil (1 -2 tablespoon) of your choice in a pan
  4. Fry the fish until it turns soft from inside and crispy from outside
  5. You can grill the fish if do not want oil




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