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Botanically Speaking

Top 10 Healthiest Foods, #4 - Sardines

I'm a family herbalist, so my interests obviously lie heavily in the direction of medicinal herbs, but also in health in general — and health derives from quality nutrition. So while you might find it strange to see a sardine post on a botanically named blog, I still maintain that it belongs here.

Top 10 Healthiest Foods, #4: Sardines!

When we look at traditional cultures throughout history it is interesting to note that while many peoples have enjoyed vibrant health while consuming almost no fruits and vegetables (witness the Inuit, Masai and Samburu), no traditional cultures have ever been found to be 100% vegetarian. There is a reason for this. Ancient wisdom makes it crystal clear that there are essential factors (especially particular fats and hormones) available in flesh foods that are not available in plants — or at least not in appreciable quantities.

Inuit WomanSamburu WomanMasai WomanSo for #4 on my top ten healthiest foods list, I've chosen the mighty sardine! 

Sardines are another fine source of Omega-3 fatty acids like those provided by flaxseeds.  

According to Dr. Jerry Bowden, “Omega-3s help with mood, thinking, circulation, and glucose and insulin metabolism; they lower blood pressure; and they protect against heart disease.”             

Besides essential fatty acids, sardines also provide an abundance of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and the full complement of B vitamins.  While fresh is definitely best, one can of sardines provides 150 percent of the Daily Value of vitamin B12, in particular.    

Sardines are also a good source of selenium, a cancer fighting trace mineral—providing up to 75 percent of the Daily Value of selenium per can—and unlike tuna and some larger fish, they do not accumulate toxic levels of substances like mercury, since they are so low on the food chain. 

How to Use Sardines

I personally enjoy sardines straight out of the can with a few saltine crackers and thinly sliced onion. And while there's nothing that can compare with fresh sardines,  even canned sardines can make an elegant healthy meal. If you like seafood with your pasta here's a recipe for you:

Sardine Pasta Recipe


  • 1 lb. spaghetti, prepared (or spaghetti squash, for an even healthier meal!)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 (15 ounce) can sardines in tomato sauce
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Melt butter In a large skillet or Dutch oven, and saute onion until soft but not brown.
  2. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and continue cooking for one minute longer.
  3. Stir in sardines along with its tomato sauce. When sardines are warmed through, reduce heat to low, and allow to simmer a few minutes more.
  4. Add hot drained pasta to the sardine sauce. Stir, cover, and remove from heat. 
  5. Allow to stand for a few minutes to let flavors meld.
  6. Squeeze lemon juice evenly over pasta. 
  7. Serve hot, topped with Parmesan cheese, as desired.


4 Comments to Top 10 Healthiest Foods, #4 - Sardines:

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Lanny Walz on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 4:24 AM
Healthy foods are important to keep body healthy and fit for long time. I feel happy to know about top 10 healthiest foods and most of those foods often I've on my food menu. Thanks
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Karen Stephenson on Monday, November 26, 2012 8:23 PM
Sardine pasta sounds like a must-try recipe... and yes, spaghetti squash makes it much healthier. Sometimes I grate carrots and use this as the "spagetti" alternative! It works!
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Ronaldinho on Friday, February 15, 2013 11:34 PM
wow!! This is informative blog post. This total presentation certainly awesome. Hi 'Karen Stephenson ' How are you ? I knowing you big thanks for your great opinion.....
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Recipe on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 7:50 AM
I am always try to give some new and delicious recipe my family. This time I am able to seen a new recipe. Which is really very simple but very yummy. That is simply appreciated.
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