Sardines, mackerel: small fish and big benefits!

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

Sardines, mackerel: small fish and big benefits! Often neglected from our plates, these fish nevertheless have many benefits!

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

Foods rich in protein

Proteins are essential nutrients for the development and renewal of all tissues in our body. They also serve to develop our muscles and participate in numerous physiological processes in different systems of our body such as our immune system, our digestive system, etc.

Composed of amino acids, some of which can only be provided through our diet, proteins of animal origin contain all these amino acids and are 90% absorbed by the intestinal wall.

The flexitarian diet, incorporating vegetarian meals and others that contain animal proteins, is therefore ideal for having optimum protein intake.

Mackerel and sardines are part of the family of foods rich in animal proteins. Can be eaten fresh or canned, without necessarily needing to cook them, they have their place both at midday and in the evening.

They allow us to reduce our intake of cold meats and meat, particularly red meat, as recommended in the PNNS guidelines.

Foods rich in Omega 3

Omega 3 is one of the polyunsaturated fatty acids. They can only be provided through our diet because our body cannot produce them.

These fats are necessary for the development and functioning of the retina, brain and nervous system. They also have a beneficial role in our mental health.

Finally, it has been proven that omega 3 has a protective role for our cardiovascular health by promoting:

  • a reduction in blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
  • a decrease in the amount of triglycerides in the blood.
  • in people with pre-existing cardiovascular pathologies, a reduction in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

However, our diet tends to lack these fats that are beneficial to our health.

It is therefore necessary to provide them in vegetable form with nut, rapeseed, soybean oils, etc. and also in animal form.

The best sources of these animal omega 3 are fatty fish including sardines and mackerel.

In addition, these fish being small, their flesh is more concentrated in omega 3 than salmon and tuna.

To avoid taking cod liver oil, it is better to eat sardines or mackerel once a week.

Healthy sardines with potatoes and chard

More ecological fish

As stipulated in the ANSES recommendations of April 2016, certain fish can be highly bioaccumulators and thus be contaminated by various pollutants. Hence the importance of varying our sources of consumption.

Long-lived fish such as tuna and salmon, even if they are also fatty fish, will accumulate more harmful substances present in the seas and oceans.

Smaller species such as mackerel and sardines live shorter lives and therefore accumulate fewer of these toxic substances.

Their fishing is also more ecological because it emits less greenhouse gases than other seafood products. According to a study published in Fish and Fisheries, fishing for small fish is “among the forms of production of most energy-efficient proteins”, these fish living close to the coast.

In addition, the fishing methods used have a negligible impact on the seabed.

Finally, since these fish generally live in large schools, the capture of other species, particularly protected species, is relatively low.

The MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) label certifies fish from sustainable fishing.

Economical and practical to eat

These fish can be eaten fresh, frozen or canned.

However, be careful with canned foods rich in oil! It is better to favor “natural”, “lemon”, “basil” preserves, etc.

This way, they keep longer and can be ready quickly so they are always useful to have at home.

However, when you eat them, be sure to respect the fishing season. Eh yes ! Just like fruits and vegetables, fish also have their season. The preferred season for fishing extends from April to November.

Smoked mackerel on a plate

Recipe ideas (Source: Frigo Magic application)

Sardine cakelette (for 4 people)

This recipe, lighter than a cake and as quick as an omelette, can very well find its place as a source of protein, to accompany with a stir-fry or a vegetable and potato puree. Vegetables can also be added when cooking in the pan.

  • Preheat the oven to 240°C (Th8)
  • Mix 6 tablespoons of flour, 4 eggs, 10 tablespoons of milk and 1 packet of yeast well in a salad bowl.
  • Take 2 cans of natural sardines, drain them and cut the sardines into pieces.
  • Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add the sardines and cook gently for 3 minutes.
  • Pour the contents of the pan into a tart pan, add the contents of the salad bowl and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Serve like a quiche.

Mackerel or sardine rillettes (for 4 people)

Rillettes to serve on toast, in an endive leaf or with vegetable sticks as an aperitif or as a starter in verrines.

  • Drain 2 cans of natural mackerel or sardines
  • Pour into a blender bowl.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of 3.5% fat cottage cheese and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
  • Mix and season as desired.
  • Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool. It’s ready !

You will have understood that mackerel and sardines are allies of our health to include regularly in our plates. Enjoy your food !