T Nation

Sardines vs. Tuna


I noticed sardines are rarely if ever mentioned as a good source of protein. I was curious to know if this is cause tuna is so much better, there is something wrong with them, or if its just cause of their taste. I happen to like them and find them easier to eat than tuna (cans smaller, easier to open/transport). Just curious as to you guys take on them as a viable protein source.


It's cos T-men will sweat blood and tears the gym, but be damned if they'll eat a little fishy that looks back at them from the can :stuck_out_tongue:

Seriosuly.. its all protein and fish oil, so I see no reason not to eat it.


Sardines, being lower on the food chain, might actually be better than tuna in some respects such as less bio-accumulation of heavy metals like mercury.


My can of sardines has 30g protein and 4g omega 3 fat and i eat one can per day. But the time i'm eating them is the time of the day i dread the most.


Thats what i was the most concerned about (levels of mercury etc.) That food chain idea is pretty interesting, hadn't thought of that...


Sardines are considered low in mercury. Here's a table published by the EPA and Dept. of Health & Human Services.



Sardines are pretty much high in Creatine too, compared to even Steak. They are closely related to Herring (the highest creatine content meat/fish source) in the family Clupeidae.

Sardines can also be known as Pilchards depending on where in the world you are, or actually Herring itself. Some people call Sardines, European Herring or European Pilchard.

Mackerel is another good tinned fish, family Scombridae.


Yes shorter life span, lower or food chain less of a chance to store the toxins etc..

Higher fat content then chunk light tuna. etc.

I think you nailed it on just the not eating them and taste being the reason they are not talked about much. I like them but they just are not a food many people like I think. So they are largely a non issue.

Eat, enjoy, and reep the benefit.


I do not think even 1,000 sardines could beat a tuna in a fight to the death.


Some brands of canned sardines like Brunswick come in flavors like cajun and mustard, which are pretty damn tasty. I personally prefer sardines over tuna these days.

High in protein and EFAs and low in contamination: a pretty good combo.


Wow, great info. I never realized they were low in mercury. I actually love sardines.

As for canned salmon, the levels on that were Non Detectable. It's not great to eat out of the can, but you can buy Wild Salmon and make salmon cakes with it. Pretty good stuff.

Here's a website for recipes for canned salmon. (Not that anybody asked.)



so do you have to chew dines up or can you just swallow it?( i can see your brokeback joke comming).


High in DHA as well. I keep a couple of cans of sardines packed in olive oil at my desk for a late afternoon protein feed. I don't usually crack open the can until after the office has gone home. They can be pretty smelly. I also dispose of the can in someone else's waste basket.


You gotta chew them, they have these crumbly bones that can make you choke otherwise. Its the bones that make some people wanna puke when they eat them.


I can only eat the better brands like Pastene or Seasons. At $2 a tin they're twice the price of albacore tuna but I enjoy them alot more. Tastes great on a hearty rye bread drizzled with a little of the oil.


This is correct. This is exactly how mercury accumulation works.


Lets all be men here...I'm a girl and I eat sardines!! Mustard will burn...sometimes I just have a craving!


I like them on saltine crackers with a smear of butter.


I dig either the stoned wheat thins or rye crisps with a couple 'o sardines and a slice or two of good irish cheddar.



Fantastic on toast with marmite