The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fish per week and choosing mainly fatty fish that contain omega-3 fats. This can help you to meet your recommended intake of 7 to 11 g of omega-3 fats per week. Sardines are a good option for this, as they are a good source of omega-3s and contain a lot of other essential vitamins and minerals.
A 4-oz. serving of sardines canned in oil contains 240 calories, 28 g of protein and 15 g of fat, of which only 2 g are saturated fat. It also provides you with 170 percent of your vitamin B-12 for the day; 80 percent of your recommended vitamin D; 60 percent of your phosphorus; 45 percent of your calcium; 30 percent of your niacin; 20 percent of your iron; 15 percent of your riboflavin; 10 percent of your magnesium, zinc and vitamin B-6; 6 percent of your thiamine and vitamin A; and 4 percent of your folate.
Sardines are one of the best sources of omega-3 fats, containing 1.8 g of omega-3 fats per 4-oz. serving. Sardine oil contains even more, with 1 Tbsp containing 3.7 g of omega-3s. Canned mackerel and canned salmon contain slightly more omega-3 fats, at 2.2 g per serving.
Omega-3 fats are essential for growth and development and brain function. Consuming sufficient omega-3 fats may help lower your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis and macular degeneration, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It may also help with the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, bipolar disorder, depression, skin disorders, inflammatory bowel disease and menstrual pain.
Meeting your omega-3 fat recommendations through food is better than taking a supplement. For the most health benefits, cook your sardines without a lot of added fat, either baking or grilling them rather than frying them. Although sardines are small and thus at a low risk for mercury, you should vary the type of fish you eat to minimize any possible environmental contamination.