Sardines are healthy because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, one of the essential fatty acids that your body needs. Therefore, adding sardines to your diet will help regulate your cholesterol levels, balancing the good and the bad cholesterols. If you are prone to anemia, regular consumption of sardines is recommended because they are good sources of iron. Sardines contain no carbohydrates, have low caloric content and have the kind of sodium your body needs. They have both calcium and vitamin D, which work hand-in-hand to build strong bones and teeth. Sardines are also one of the few phosphorus-rich foods that help the kidneys excrete waste properly. Sardines are readily available fresh, bottled or canned. Fresh, they can be grilled or broiled. Bottled or canned, they are usually in water, or prepared with tomato sauce, mustard or oil. If you plan to eat sardines on a regular basis, you might want to know the healthiest ways to enjoy them.
1. As Sandwiches
Ditch the ham, salami or pastrami, and replace them with sardines. Use wheat, whole or multigrain bread; slather it thinly with low-fat mayonnaise or yogurt; lay out the sardines; add in lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber, and voila – you have a healthy and filling sardine sandwich. It is best to use the ones in water, so you can just season them accordingly or make your own sandwich spread mixture.
Using a food processor, mix sardines with onions, celery and your favorite garden herbs, plus a dollop or two of mayonnaise, cream cheese or yogurt, a drizzle of lemon juice and you have your own sardine sandwich spread.
2. On Pastas and Salads
You can use the same sandwich spread mixture as pasta sauce, although you can try sautéing it first with garlic and onion browned in olive oil. Tear up some fresh basil leaves and mix in the pasta – whatever type you prefer – to enjoy your very own sardine pasta, which is both healthy and filling.
Another way to use sardines with pasta is just to add the sardines in tomato sauce or oil straight from the can or bottle. Throw in some chili pepper and onions then serve with Parmesan cheese.
Salads, too, will enjoy a twist when you add sardines to your fresh garden greens. Aside from the greens, tomatoes and cucumber, mix in some fruits, such as oranges or mandarins, grapes, apples and strawberries, then top it with dried cranberries and walnuts. You can slice the sardines and add without cooking, or flake them and fry or bake until crispy.
3. As Filling
A sardine omelet is a great breakfast fare. You can use the sardines alone as filling or add vegetables like asparagus, green or red bell pepper, and zucchini to make it even healthier. Sardines, with their natural salty taste, are perfect when mixed with all these veggies. You can cut down on your sodium just by using sardines. A dash of hot sauce will make them even more appetizing.