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Most people think of keto as a meat-based diet. That’s one of the reasons that going keto is such a controversial decision. Meat is commonly associated with high amounts of saturated fat, and as such, a lot of people are worried about eating too much red meat.
However, there is nothing in the keto diet that says you HAVE to eat a lot of meat unless you’re following one of the carnivore variations. Instead, keto is meant to be very low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet, and that means anything that fits those criteria is classed as keto-friendly.
One type of food not usually associated with the ketogenic, which is actually very keto-friendly, is fish. In fact, you could go full keto eating no meat at all, providing you enjoy eating lots of seafood.
There are many different varieties of fish and seafood that you can eat on keto, including cod, salmon, tuna, prawns, crab, scallops, and many, MANY others. But are sardines keto?
Sardines are a divisive food, like anchovies, Marmite, and black (or blood) pudding. Some people love them, and others hate them. However, like all types of seafood, they’re a good source of protein, are high in healthy fats, and are very low in carbs.
In this article, we reveal some useful nutritional facts about sardines and tell you if sardines deserve to be part of your ketogenic diet.
Sardines On Keto
What Are Sardines?
There are several fish that fall into the sardine family. They’re all small and have silvery skin.
Typically, they’re packed in water or oil and canned, although they’re also available fresh and frozen from fish markets and some grocery stores.
Canned sardines have usually been deboned and their heads removed, and you can eat them straight out of the tin. Some also contain mustard or tomato dressings which are great for flavoring but may have hidden carbs. Read the nutrition label to make sure your flavored sardines are keto-friendly.
Sardines can be mashed to use as a topping for vegetable crudités, grilled, or eaten with eaten cold; they’re a very versatile food.
Are Sardines Keto?
Long story short, sardines are very keto-friendly. They’re high in fat and protein but contain no carbs whatsoever. This means you can eat lots of sardines on the ketogenic diet. Also, unlike many fish, such as tuna and swordfish, sardines are very low in mercury, which is why some people are nervous about eating too much seafood.
Providing you choose varieties that aren’t packed in flavored dressings, eating sardines can help you lose weight on keto. To avoid inadvertently derailing your diet, only buy plain fresh or frozen sardines, or, if you buy the canned type, only get the water and oil-packed varieties.
Sardines are very nutritious. They’re not only diet-friendly, but they’re also good for you too. The nutritional values per 100 grams/3.5 ounces of sardines are:
- Calories: 210
- Protein: 22 grams
- Fat: 14 grams
- Carbohydrates: 0 grams
- Fiber: 0 grams
- Sugar: 0 grams
Sardines are an excellent source of:
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
The Benefits of Eating Sardines on Keto
Because they’re high in protein and fat but free from carbs and sugar, sardines are the perfect ketogenic food. However, this small, intensely tasty fish is good for you too. The benefits of eating sardines include:
Despite being low in calories, the combination of protein and fat means that sardines a very filling. Just a small can will keep hunger at bay for several hours.
Eat them straight from the can anytime you need a grab-and-go meal or a tasty snack.
Improved Heart Health
Like all fish, sardines are high in health-boosting polyunsaturated fats called Omega-3s. Omega-3s are very good for your heart and circulatory system.
Eating fish, especially sardines, is a big part of the Mediterranean diet, which many doctors believe is one of the healthiest diets around as residents of this region have very long, productive lives.
Better Bone Health
Sardines have very soft bones. While the main bones are usually removed, some always remain. Because they’re soft, you can eat them easily and often without even realizing it.
The bones are a good source of calcium, which is in turn good for YOUR bones. Sardines also contain phosphorous, which is another bone-building mineral.
Increased Brain and Nervous System Health
In the past, fish were often described as brain food because they were associated with better brain and nervous system health. This is partly because of the anti-inflammatory effect of the omega-3s, but also the high concentration of vitamins B3 and B12, both of which are often low.
Faster Recovery From Exercise
Working out causes muscle breakdown, a process called atrophy. Your body needs and uses protein to repair this damage so that your muscles grow back bigger and stronger.
A small 3.5 ounce serving of sardines provides 22 grams of protein, which is a valuable addition to your daily protein intake.
By and large, sardines are very healthy, but they’re not for everyone. Sardines are high in sodium, which means they can cause a rise in blood pressure. This probably isn’t an issue if your BP is normal, but if you’re already hypertensive, you may want to limit your intake of sardines.
Also, sardines have been shown to increase the formation of uric acid. High levels of uric acid can cause and exacerbate gout, which is a painful arthritis-type condition that typically affects the joints of the toes. This same uric acid could also lead to the formation of kidney stones.
Uric acid should not present any problems for most healthy people. Still, anyone with underlying gout or kidney issues may want to avoid sardines and eat more white fish, which does not have this uric acid-forming effect.
Knowing what to eat on keto can be a challenge. Most people get they can’t eat bread, rice, pasta, etc., but what can you eat instead? The good news is that there are LOTS of keto-friendly foods you can eat that will help you lose weight, feel full, and give you energy, and sardines are one of them.
Keep a few cans in your pantry, your work desk, or even your car or gym bag, so you’ve always got a keto-friendly snack close to hand. All you need is a fork; you can eat them straight from the tin.
High in protein and healthy fats, sardines are one of the best keto foods around. However, not everyone enjoys the taste or the smell; they’re one of those foods you either love or hate!