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Sardine Nutrition

Sardine Nutrition & Our Sardine Red Pepper Tart Tatin

Since the 1850s, when Portugal’s national fish canning industry emerged, Portuguese sardines have swum their way from working-class tables to soldier barracks during the World Wars, to today’s Michelin restaurants and luxury boutique shops.

As the director of Conservas Pinhais (Portugal’s last fully manual sardine fish cannery) jokingly put it:

"Sardines have become the third marvel of the country, after soccer and sunlight."

Conservas Pinhais Staff

A local neighborhood worker at Conservas Pinhais

With a high nutritional value, natural abundance and incredible flavor it is easy to see why sardines's are Portugal's superfood of choice.  During June’s peak sardine-eating season, fishery managers calculated that about 13 sardines are eaten every second in Portugal - that’s around 34 million fish during the entire month!

Increased tourism flow in Portugal and canned sardines exports have helped build a growing shoal of international sardine aficionados who recognize these icons of Portuguese culture and gastronomy for their unparalleled flavour and quality, and as a sustainable superfood.

Nutrition and Heath Benefits

Sardine Nutrition and Heath Benefits

A 3.2 Oz can of sardines has 20g of protein, 300g of calcium (more than a glass of milk) and a powerful source of vitamin D, B12 and magnesium, nutritional value which many of our modern diets and indoor habits fail to provide.

Furthermore, canned sardines are easy-to-transport, long-lasting and protein-packed. Paired with a hunk of bread, they got French soldiers through the World Wars (this demand, supplied by Portuguese fish canneries, led to the industry’s boom in the 1900s), and Portuguese workers and students through lunch (similar to ramen in the US, just far more nutritious).

Sardine Nutrition and Heath Benefits

Freshly grilled and served with potatoes and salad, or tinned in olive oil or tomato sauce and hand-wrapped in bright vintage paper, sardines are chock-full of Omega 3 fatty acids which our bodies must source from food to promote healthy hearts and radiant skin, hair and nails.

Antioxidant selenium in sardines’ silvery skins (which are edible AND delicious!) help fight cancer and these fishes’ high protein value helps keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Nutrition and Heath Benefits

Best of the Best

A recent study by the Washington Post revealed that sardines are one of the best low-mercurey fish choices. They are small fish, low on the oceanic food chain and caught between their first and second year of age so they don’t accumulate much mercury or pollutants as larger fish like tuna or swordfish.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program even lists sardines as a “best choice” for the better health of our oceanic ecosystems, due to their abundance and high production rate.

The Portuguese Way

Sardine Worker Conservas Pinhais

The Portuguese government’s strict regulations protect sardine populations from overfishing by limiting yields and concentrating the fishing season from May through October.

This gives the fish time to reproduce, grow and accumulate those concentrated and complex nutritious benefits that can help boost the nervous system and cognitive functioning and metabolism of those who eat them, as well as lower our risk of depression and anxiety.

Furthermore, canning sardines under olive oil and heating the cans to 100 degrees ensures their longevity without the need for added chemical preservatives. Then, through the process of gelification, canned sardines’ small bones break down and become an edible source of calcium and vitamins (also making our eating them less messy!)

Complexity in a Can

Interesting, like wine or cheese, high-quality canned sardines can take on more rich and complex flavours with age, so save some cans to peel open in a few years or decades and dig into a few right now to enjoy, simply with good bread or atop Farah’s favourite Red Red Pepper Tart Tatin.

Enjoy! - Odile Bouchard

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Odile Bouchard

Hi! I'm Odile; I am half-French, half-American and grew up between Burgundy, Napa Valley and Tuscany - wine and travel run deep in my veins. My family owns Quinta do Tedo in the Douro Valley, one of Farah Trading Co's favorite producers!

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