• Ellen Spinner

My 'Superfoods': Sardines

You may have heard lots over the years about Omega 3 fatty acids being good for you and this is an area of nutrition science where you can believe the hype. As well as supporting the structure of our nerve cells in particular and our cell membranes in general, Omega 3 fats can also help to dampen down inflammation in our body by driving immune cells down anti-inflammatory pathways.

We call Omega 3 an 'essential' fatty acid because our bodies can't make it; so in order to gain it's benefits, we have to eat it. One of the absolute easiest and most enjoyable ways of doing this is to eat sardines, which contain Omega 3s in just the forms that our body needs and have the added bonus of being a great value food in terms of cost versus nutrient density.

In addition, sardines are a good source of selenium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium and phosphorus, which support a broad range of body functions.

Also, as we sadly live in an age where we have to be concerned about toxins in seafood, the fact that sardines are small and towards the bottom of the food chain means that they are less affected.

If you're not lucky enough to be living somewhere where you can get beautiful grilled sardines on the beach, tinned ones are a great alternative. There are a few things to bear in mind when you buy them though.

1. Avoid any that are packed sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is high in Omega 6 fatty acids which most of us need to reduce in our diet as they tend to promote inflammation in the body.

2. Consider going for those packed in tomato as the concentrated tomato is a good source of lycopene, a powerful anti-oxidant.

3. Avoid 'boneless' tinned sardines as the bones are where you'll get calcium and phosphorus.

Personally, I usually eat sardines as a salad topping, and aim for 3 tins per week. If you are not a massive fan, you could try them mashed on top of sourdough toast with plenty of lemon and black pepper, or you can also find some great recipes online.

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