Can you eat sardines out of the can?

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question “Can you eat sardines out of the can?”, and further elaborate on the benefits of eating them. We will also look into the nutritional value of sardines and their various health benefits.

Yes, you can eat sardines out of the can. Canned sardines are mostly safe to eat and they are usually packed with water, oil, tomato juice, and other liquids, they are eaten straight out of the can after discarding the liquid in which they come. The heads of sardines are usually removed, and you will be eating the skin and bones which are, in fact, healthy.

Canned sardines are enjoyed around the world and are quite popular in Asia and Europe, but are less famous in America.

Sardines are a group of species that are similar in appearance and taste. They are mostly small and silvery, all of them are high in fat content; however, mercury content might differ, but it is lower in all the sardines as compared to other fish types.  

How are sardines canned?

A variety of ways are used to pack sardines at the cannery, they are cleaned by washing and removing their heads. After which, they are either smoked, steam-cooked or deep-fried.

Usually, olive, sunflower or soybean oil are used as the liquids in the canister, otherwise, water or tomato, chili, or mustard sauce can also be used.

There are two main methods of canning sardines: Mediterranean or Norwegian. Sardines are kept alive in the Norwegian method until their stomachs are empty. After that, their heads are removed, and sardines are smoked.

In the Mediterranean method, they are beheaded and eviscerated. In both methods, they are brined, packed in the can, steamed and drained.

What is the nutritional profile of sardines?

A serving of four sardines contains:

  • Calories: 100
  • Protein: 12 grams
  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams

Sardines are an excellent source of these vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Selenium
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3)
  • Iodine

Also, the mercury content of sardines is low because of their meager food source, which is mostly composed of planktons in the sea.

What are the potential health benefits of canned sardines?

Canned sardines have a nutritional composition that makes them a beneficial diet. Sardines also provide these possible health benefits:

Better heart health

Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help to protect the cardiovascular system. It also helps to regulate cardiac rhythms, lower fats in the body and keep arteries clear of obstructions.

Oily seafood like salmon, mackerel, and sardines have the highest concentration. The American Heart Association suggests eating two meals of fatty fish each week, one of which should be 3.5 ounces.

Stronger bones

Sardines are a good source of calcium since they are eaten whole. Vitamin D is also available in good supply in sardines and is considered important because it helps your body absorb calcium. It is significantly higher than calcium in sardines. Phosphorus is a third bone-building vitamin that neutralizes acids that might injure your bones and is abundant in sardines as well.

High blood pressure

Sardines have a high sodium content. Around a third of your daily value is provided by a single can and should be avoided by those with high blood pressure since it draws water and increases the amount of blood in the body.

Gout attacks

Gout is a condition in which your body’s uric acid crystallizes in your joints, producing joint discomfort and purines are the molecules that are converted to uric acid. Thus, a diet low in them is ideal for gout.

Oily fish, such as sardines and anchovies, are rich in purines, so if you have gout, you should look for alternative methods. Taking fish oil supplements or eating white-fleshed fish like cod can help.

Kidney stones

Kidney stones can be caused by the same uric acid that causes gout. Sardines aren’t a smart choice for people who are at risk of kidney stones since they contain purines.

Sardines high sodium content might cause calcium to build up in your urine, which is another risk factor for kidney disease.

Potential risks of canned sardines

While sardines may be a healthy addition to one’s diet, there are a few people who should avoid them. Sardines should be avoided if you have high blood pressure, gout, or are prone to kidney stones. At-risk people should avoid canned sardines since they might cause the following health problems:

Other FAQs about Fish that you may be interested in.

Can you eat sardines raw?


In this brief article, we answered the question “Can you eat sardines out of the can?”, and further discussed the benefits of eating sardines. We will also look into the nutritional value of sardines and their various health benefits.


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