Sardines and Diabetes

Sardines and Diabetes

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Glycemic index:


Calories per 100 g:

217 kcal

Sardines have been around for centuries, and just like other oil fishes, they contain numerous nutrients such as omega 3, taurine, vitamin D, and calcium. One study even says eating just two cans (200 g) of sardines per week can help one avoid type 2 diabetes.

So is there any relationship between sardine and diabetes? Can sardine truly help in diabetes management? We’ll get to see in a bit, and by what means it does this.


Nutritional value

  • Protein 24.58 g
  • Carbohydrate 0 g
  • Fat 12.37 g
  • Fiber 0 g
  • Sugar 0 g
  • Cholesterol 82 g

Nutritional Value of Sardines


Sardines are high in omega 3, protein, magnesium, and vitamin D, essential to prevent/manage diabetes. Namely, according to the USDA, one can (3.75 oz) of drained sardines offers 22.6 g of protein, 35.9 mg of magnesium, 351 mg of calcium, and 8.22 mcg of vitamin B12. These characteristics make them a wonderful meal to include in your diabetes diet, as we would see below.

They're also low in calories, yielding just 191 cal per can and devoid of carbs (meaning they have a zero glycemic index). However, it’s essential to go for salt-free options if you have diabetes.


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The Benefits of Eating Sardines as a Diabetic


These little fish are high in nutrients that can help you avoid a variety of diseases. Some of the nutrients it contains have been linked to preventing several diabetic-related conditions, as we would observe below.


Anti-Inflammatory Effects 


Sardines are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory effects that can help prevent heart disease. Notably, they are high in EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), two fatty acids that have been shown in studies to help the body reduce inflammation — a key modulator of diabetes.


When preparing your sardines, sprinkling a pinch of turmeric on top can boost its anti-inflammatory properties.


Rich Vitamin B12 Source


Sardines are a good source of vitamin B12, offering 343% DV per can. This is particularly important in diabetic neuropathy patients who have depleted vitamin B12 levels. Notably, male patients who are on metformin are a prominent risk population.


Since vitamin B12 decreases homocysteine blood levels, a compound related to higher stroke and heart attack risks, supplementation with sardines may help prevent these complications. However, further research is still needed to verify this claim.


Reduces Heart Disease Risk


Sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids, which may aid in the prevention of heart disease — a common diabetes complication. Namely, omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA reduce harmful or LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and serum triglycerides in the body, according to research.


Furthermore, the presence of blood clots in the arteries poses a significant risk to our cardiovascular health. Thankfully, the intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), such as those found in fish like sardines, has been found to reduce the risk of thrombotic events (potential risk factors for heart diseases).


Reduces Insulin Resistance


Insulin resistance is a crucial mechanism for type 2 diabetes, resulting in reduced efficiency in the body’s use of insulin and an associated increase in blood sugar levels. However, sardine protein consumption may have a favorable effect on fructose-induced metabolic syndrome characteristics such as insulin resistance, hyperlipidemia, and oxidative and inflammatory state, according to a 2012 study.


Aids Weight Loss


Sardines aid in appetite control by reducing food cravings and snacking. Simply put, the high protein and fat content aid weight reduction by making you feel full.


Research on Diabetes and Sardines


Several studies highlight the relationship between sardines and diabetes. In a study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, 152 prediabetic patients aged 65 and older were put on nutrition programs to help them avoid developing diabetes. As part of their weekly regimen, one group was given 200 grams of sardines—roughly two cans worth—and instructed to consume the fish whole without removing the vitamin D and calcium-rich bones. 


Apart from lowering their risk of diabetes, the group that included sardines in their nutritional regimen observed other health benefits. Namely, researchers also discovered lower triglyceride and blood pressure levels, a lower insulin resistance index, and increases in "good" cholesterol and adiponectin, a hormone that aids in glucose digestion.


 Another study looked at the chemical makeup of four different species of fish (sardines, mackerel, bolti, and smoked herring) and their effects on the nutritional value and blood levels of diabetic rats (glucose, lipid fractions, kidney, and liver functions). The study found that eating just two cans of sardines per week can help avoid type 2 diabetes. In addition, scientists claim that consuming oily fish is more beneficial than simply taking the minerals in pill form.


How to Add Sardine to Your Diabetic Meal


Sardines are a food you can consume in several different ways, including the following:

  • Bake them
  • Eat them in salads
  • Fry them in a skillet or grill them
  • Serve them on crackers or with pasta



Sardines are an omega-3-, vitamin D-, protein-, and calcium-rich convenience meal. They're a low-cost means to obtain a variety of vitamins and minerals helpful in diabetes management. Plus, you can easily incorporate them into your meal by various means.

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