The ‘super fish’ that has more calcium than yogurt, protects the heart and costs less than 1 euro

Canned sardines have nutritional values ​​that are very different from those of fresh sardines and some are even healthier.

Fish preserved in ice at the point of sale.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to eat healthy. The supermarkets of Spain are full of foods that promote good health and that, in addition, cost less than one euro. Canned and frozen foods have had a bad reputation for some years and, although some are really ultra-processed foods, healthy, cheap and ready-to-eat foods can be found in these sections.

Sardine cans, for example, are products that meet these conditions. Still, many of us we tend to think that this fish occupies a lower status than fresh fish and even some frozen. Although it varies depending on the commercial brand, you can find sardines for less than one euro or, in the case of the most expensive ones, around two euros. I mean, they are very cheap.

This may be one of the reasons why this product can be considered as of second. In addition, as this article in EL ESPAÑOL explains, sardines were another of the great ones pointed out from the 70s of the last century for being too fat. Although at that time fats were considered a nutrient to avoidtoday it is known that some —such as fish— are very healthy.

Transformation in a can

Precisely, the fat profile of sardines is one of the main interests of canned sardines. Sardines that are not sold canned contain 7.5% fat and stands out for those that are polyunsaturated. In fact, the Spanish Nutrition Foundation (FEN) explains that a serving of sardines provides 100% of the recommended daily amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Of course, canned sardines have a different profile.

It is common to find canned sardines submerged in oil or tomato sauce. Therefore, it is important that the liquid that accompanies the sardines is as healthy as possible. In this sense, the best ones are those that come in olive oil, since their structure is stable at high temperatures and contains a good proportion of antioxidants. In addition, it also has a good contribution of healthy fats.

After being mixed with olive oil, these canned sardines practically double their fat content: they now have 15%. With this union, the content of unsaturated fatty acids—that is, those that are considered heart-healthy—increases and the proportion of saturated fatty acids decreases. Another aspect that changes in canned sardines is their nutritional value: while this fish has about 140 kilocalories per 100 grams, those with oil have 224 kilocalories, according to the FEN.

calcium pump

In any case, the most drastic change in the nutritional composition between both versions of the sardine occurs in calcium. Sardines contain 43 milligrams per 100 grams of food, but after its preservation treatment, this mineral increases considerably: canned sardines have about 400 milligrams of calcium per 100 grams of weight. What could have happened for this contribution to rise in such a way?

The food industry introduces raw sardines with oil in cans and then subjects them to a heat treatment that causes the meat to be cooked and the bones to become soft. In fact, the spines become edible and, in them, calcium abounds. The story does not end here, because these fish are considered a source of vitamin D, an important micronutrient for health that increases, precisely, the absorption capacity of calcium by our body.

For this reason, canned sardines are one of the richest foods in this mineral: they exceed dairy products and almonds. As we well know, calcium contributes to the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, but it is also essential for the nervous, muscular and immune systems. Being a small fish, its consumption is associated with a negligible risk of mercury contamination.

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