Fish is extremely high in Protein, Omega-3, Vitamin D, Calcium, B12, Selenium, Iron, Zinc and Magnesium. Notice how these are some of the most commonly supplemented nutrients in the world… and yet they can be attained more sustainably without supplementation.
However, most fresh, wild and sustainably caught fish is expensive, hard to get, spoils quickly and can be relatively high in toxic metals such as mercury. Many people are turned off by canned options, but the reality is that they may just be the healthiest alternative for you and the environment. You just have to know what to look for.
Salmon and Foragers (small prey fish) like sardines, herring and anchovies are superfoods. They are rich in many healthy nutrients, but one of the most noteworthy is selenium, which detoxifies any heavy metals that the species may contain. They should be a staple in your diet under any circumstance, but for the quarantine they couldn’t be more perfect.
They are inexpensive, have a long shelf life, are easy to buy in bulk and stack in your pantry. They are extremely dense in nutrients, very filling and help limit excess weight gain, and can help preserve lean muscle mass. I’m not done yet, either. They can also lower inflammation and serve as a very versatile food ingredient.
Sardines are classified as one of the World’s Healthiest Foods due to the many health benefits that I listed above. The World’s Healthiest Foods organization created a rating system to identify foods that have a large amount of nutrients for the calories they contain. As you may have guessed due to all my raving, sardines ranked “excellent” and “very good” in many key nutrients, without nearly the amount of calories that you might expect. In order to get the same amount of nutrients from many other foods, you’d have to consume much larger portions. If you’re now considering adding some more sardines to your diet, you’re making a great choice.
One thing you should always be on the lookout for (which I mentioned earlier) is mercury toxicity. However as long as a fish contains selenium, mercury isn’t an issue. A medical study (Lazarini et al., 2019) showed that selenium provides a “protective effect on the mercury species.” This table is a good reference of possible mercury toxicity.
High quality, wild-caught, and sustainable options from brands like Wild Planet Foods are delicious without the fishy taste. You definitely have to make sure you buy from a brand (even if it’s not this one) that isn’t loaded with preservatives. But there is nothing to be afraid of when you choose a brand like this one. I personally enjoy them plain, or with olive oil daily and I did not get paid any money to state these facts. If you have any further questions about fish consumption and how fish can improve the quality of your diet, feel free to ask in the comment section below.
Lazarini, T. E. D. M. (2019). Selenium, total mercury and methylmercury in sardine: Study of molar ratio and protective effect on the diet. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30755081/