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Health Benefits of Sardines on Keto

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Sardines are nutritious and a perfect addition to your ketogenic diet. They contain no carbs and are packed with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, vitamins, and minerals.

Here’s why sardines are an excellent choice for your health and how you can incorporate this fish into your keto lifestyle.

Bowl of sardines

What are sardines?

Sardines are a type of herring closely related to other oily, small schooling fish such as anchovies.

Canned sardines are sometimes called pilchards, and there is some debate about whether sardines and pilchards are different species of fish. In fact, they are the same. The younger, smaller fish are known as sardines, and the older and slightly larger ones are called pilchards. 

Sardines rank amongst the most consumed fish species alongside tuna, salmon, and cod. They are a staple of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet and have a rich, oily flavor. 

While sardines are typically canned in oil or water, fresh sardines also taste delicious. They can be grilled, smoked, or pickled.

Watch the video below to learn more about sardines' health benefits and why you want to eat sardines regularly.

Are sardines Healthy Keto®-approved?

Sardines are an excellent source of nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium. Because they contain no carbs, sardines are perfect for low-carb diets.


Healthy Keto is a low-carb, high-fat plan that focuses on nutrient-dense, high-quality keto-friendly foods. Sardines are a fantastic source of protein, rich in healthy fats, highly nutritious, and meet all the requirements to be Healthy Keto-approved.

Sardine nutritional facts 

A serving of five drained sardines contains:


  • 125 calories

  • 7 g total fat

  • 15 g protein

  • 0 g total carbs

    • 0 g fiber

    • 0 g net carbs

Not only are sardines carb-free and relatively low-calorie, but they also contain essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals.

Sardines are an excellent source of:

  • Vitamin D

  • Vitamin B12

  • Calcium 

  • Phosphors

  • Zinc

  • Selenium 

Canned sardines

Benefits of sardines

Sardines are an often overlooked superfood that promotes heart health and blood sugar balance, reduces inflammation, and supports brain health. 

Research suggests that consuming sardines twice a week can reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. 

Sardines' many health benefits are hard to ignore—here are four reasons why you should eat them regularly!

1. Promote a healthy heart  

Sardines are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are potent anti-inflammatory fatty acids that promote a healthy cardiovascular system. 

Omega-3 fatty acids raise heart-healthy HDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of arterial plaques and blood clots linked to heart attacks and stroke. 

2. Support brain health 

Most of the fatty tissue in your brain contains DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in the meat and skin of sardines.

DHA supports healthy brain function, reduces inflammation, and can slow age-related cognitive decline. Eating fish rich in omega-3 fats may reduce the risk of dementia and improve memory.

3. Promote strong bones 

Sardines are tiny fish and typically are served with bones. Sardine bones are an excellent source of calcium, promoting strong bones and reducing the risk of osteoporosis in later life.

4. Build healthy muscles 

The combination of healthy fats, protein, and other essential nutrients, including magnesium and zinc, make sardines a fantastic option to support healthy muscle growth.  

Sardine salad

How to enjoy sardines on keto 

Whether you choose fresh or canned sardines, they are an excellent keto-friendly ingredient. They work well in salads and taste delicious when combined with avocado and olives. 

If you don't like to eat sardines because of their bones, try chopping them finely or using a food processor. Add fresh lemon juice, cream cheese, salt, and pepper for a tasty sardine keto spread.    

Opt for sardines canned in olive oil or water, and avoid sardines in soybean oil. Most soybean oil is made from GMO crops and can contain glyphosate residues linked to potential adverse health implications, including fertility problems and gastrointestinal issues. 

Fresh sardines

Key takeaways

Sardines are a keto-friendly superfood. They’re carb-free and rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fats, vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, and zinc.

Regular sardine intake supports your health, reduces inflammation, has the potential to prevent heart disease, and promotes brain health.

Fresh or canned sardines in olive oil or water are approved on our Keto Food List. Avoid sardines in soybean oil. 

Sardines are a delicious addition to salads, spreads, and dips—so add them to your shopping list!


1. Are sardines low-carb?

Yes, sardines are carb-free and keto-friendly. 

2. Can I have sardines on keto?

Yes, sardines are keto-friendly! Sardines contain no carbs and are high in healthy fats and other essential vitamins and minerals. They are nutritious oily fish that provide heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. 

3. What do sardines taste like?

Sardines have an oily texture and a rich and salty flavor. Fresh sardines typically have a stronger fish taste than the canned varieties.

4. Is canned fish okay on a keto diet?

Yes, canned fish is safe to eat on a keto diet. Avoid soybean oil—choose fish canned in water or olive oil instead.

Soybean oil typically is from GMO crops and contains pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids—so it’s best to avoid it whenever possible.

5. Are canned sardines healthy?

Yes, canned sardines are exceptionally healthy and nutritious. They are rich in omega-3 fats and other essential nutrients, including vitamins D and B12, zinc, selenium, and calcium.

Regular sardine intake can reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease and promote brain health and strong bones.

6. Do sardines contain mercury?

Sardines are at the bottom of the food chain and forage on plankton, which contains almost no heavy metals. As a result, sardines contain very little to no mercury.

Sardines are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids for pregnant women.

7. Do sardines have bones?

Yes, sardines contain bones. Sardine bones are edible and healthy—they’re a rich source of calcium needed for building strong bones and teeth.


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