|Photo by kelpenhagen.|
Calcium. Canned sardines contain a lot of calcium and phosphates, which help strengthen bones. But since I started eating sardines, I learned that they have other health benefits as well.
Omega 3. They contain significant amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, which can protect against heart disease and stroke. Omega 3 fatty acids also might help with arthritis.
While there is no strong evidence that high levels of omega 3 can prevent dementia, those with low levels of omega 3 do demonstrate memory problems.
Protein. They are a good source of protein as well. One serving contains 21.5 grams of protein. A person weighing 150 pounds should eat about 68 grams of protein per day.
Many older adults fail to get enough protein in their daily diet. Sardines are reasonably priced and can be purchased in cans, which can be stored for several weeks if not months (check the expiration dates carefully).
Low Mercury Levels. Because sardines are low on the food chain in our oceans, they have lower levels of mercury than tuna and other salt-water fish.
I try to eat sardines two or three times a week. If I'm in a hurry, I just eat them out of the can. If I have more time, I make a salad of greens and vegetables or I eat them on toasted bread. Here is a 60 second video from Men's Health that touts the health benefits of sardines and offers a couple of serving ideas:
I have yet to convince my children (12 and 16) that sardines are delicious. I admit that much of their appeal comes with my age-related needs for protein and calcium. And improving my bone health so that I can maintain my mobility sounds delicious to me! Here's a recipe by the Minimalist Chef at the New York Times.
Protein Intake for Older Adults
Calcium and Bone Health