Can you eat sardines raw?

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question “Can you eat sardines raw?”. We will also discuss what makes them healthy and the health benefits of eating them raw. Further, we will elaborate the different types of sardines that are commonly found in the market.

Yes, you can eat sardines raw. They are the perfect choice among the many species of fish to consume uncooked. However, they are highly perishable, thus they are most commonly found canned.

They are mostly available in the market in the form of canned food and come unskinned and with bones, which is perfectly fine and are healthy to consume raw. 

Canned sardines might be cheaper than fresh raw ones, but raw sardines are much better in nutrition and health benefits, and they tend to have masked taste and odor. 

What makes sardines healthy?

Sardines are quite famous in today’s diet and are common in canned food items. They are tiny fish but that does not stop them from being packed with healthy nutrients. The whole of sardine is edible, even its bones if cooked properly and softened, which is why they’re not often deboned when canned. They are a rich source of calcium.

Aside from calcium, they are a fantastic source of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, vitamins B-12 and D. They are also a good source of multiple minerals, niacin, iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and phosphorus.

Sardines supply enough omega-3 fatty acids in only one to two meals per week to minimize your risk of heart disease by more than one-third.

They are among the fish with the lowest levels of methylmercury. Sardines are tiny and only consume plankton and not mercury-contaminated fish, also they are short-lived, thus mercury does not have time to build up in their body since they are short-lived.

Are there risks related to eating canned raw sardine?

Sardines may pose a health danger because of the way it is packed in containers. Bisphenol A, also known as BPA, is a hazardous substance that may be found in cans. BPA is still used in food cans, despite concerns about its relation to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

What is the nutrition 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

You can further read about the nutrition found in sardines and their effect on health here:

What are different types of sardines?

Sardines belong to the family Clupeidae (Herrings), there are many varieties of Sardine and all are members of the Herring Family.

Raw sardines that are sold fresh and raw are large, but millions of cans of smaller fish are produced each year, packed in water, oil, mustard sauce, and tomato sauce, with and without spicy chilies. Morocco is the world’s largest producer of canned sardines, accounting for 41% of global exports.

Spanish sardine

The variety of sardines that are found on Atlantic coasts, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean belong to the genus Sardinella and are called Spanish sardines. Maderensis is an East Atlantic and Mediterranean fish.

The Spanish sardine is 10-1/2 inches long, 3 inches tall, 1-1/4 inch thick, and weighed 7-1/2 ounces, both species may grow to be over 12 inches long. These fish are doing well and are not considered endangered; however, the Madeiran may be overfished.

California sardine

California has a rich supply of fresh sardines, but they may also be found on both coastlines of the Pacific, in the Indian Ocean, and on the Atlantic side of South Africa. The Californian sardine is around 7 inches long and weighs about 2 ounces.

Brisling sardine

It is not considered a sardine, but it closely relates to the sardine family. The confusion in resembles might come from the fact that they are canned in the same style as sardines. Thus, they are called “Brisling Sardines” to differentiate them from the heavily smoked canned fish widely known as “Sprats”. 


Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi are home to the Kapenta. Sardines may grow up to 6 inches (15 cm) in length, although most are approximately 3-1/2 inches (9 cm).

The Sprat is tiny, reaching a maximum size of 4 inches (10 cm) but is usually 2-3/4 inches (7 cm). It is freshwater sardine with a high nutritional value for the inhabitants of the area.

Philippine dried sardine

In the Philippines, many tiny fish are treated with salt and dried. They are known as “Daing” and are very popular in Philippine cooking. However, sardines are significant enough to earn their name, Tuyo. It’s frequently served whole, fried till almost crisp, with a vinegar dip. It’s a popular morning dish when served with rice.

Apparently, these types of sardines are common in the Philippine markets in Los Angeles, none of the Philippine cookbooks even mention their existence.

Other FAQs about Fish that you may be interested in.

Can you eat sardines whole?


In this brief article, we answered the question “Can you eat sardines raw?”. We also discussed what makes them healthy and the health benefits of eating them raw. Further, we listed different types of sardines that are commonly found in the market.


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