Monday, May 2, 2011

Sardines are SuperFood

Sardines a Superfood? Seriously? Yep. These little fish sold packed in water, olive oil, soybean oil, mustard, or tomato paste are actually packed in nutritious goodness. I’d never considered even tasting sardines because, well, to be honest they just seemed “gross”. But, hey, I’ve taste tested escargot and caviar (yum for the former, yuck to the latter) so why not sardines? Alton Brown of “Good Eats” and “Iron Chef America” fame credits sardine sandwiches as a key to his huge weight loss. These little fishies warranted some additional consideration.
My first trial was “sardine rolls” which proved that sardines are not as strongly flavored as I’d thought they’d be. My second trial was today for lunch, Sardine Wraps. Not only were the wraps good, but even more important as a lunch item, they did not smell (read: no complaints from the coworkers).
So, what’s so special about Sardines?
A 3.25oz can of sardines contains 137% of the RDA of B12, 78% of the RDA for tryptophan, 69% of Selenium, 62% of vitamin D, 56% of Omega-3s, and the list goes on. They are the most concentrated sources of EPA and DHA (Omega-3s) which is important to heart health and some believe also critical for brain health as well. It is second only to calves liver as a source of B12 (and liver only makes it to my plate as pate—a rare event indeed).
Sardines are a great source of calcium and, probably even more important, an amazingly concentrated source of vitamin D—otherwise only obtained in the diet via fortified foods. There is an epidemic in America of vitamin D deficiency (myself included). Everyone knows a lack of vitamin D leads to weak bones and rickets. That is certainly true. But, vitamin D is also critical for numerous biochemical functions in the body including cell differentiation (failure here can lead to tumors and cancer), immune system function, insulin secretion, and blood pressure regulation (something that went haywire on me last year when my vitamin D stores hit rock bottom). Along with calcium and vitamin D, sardines are also a great source of phosphorus and B12 both of which also contribute to bone health. Forget about drinking milk, eat sardines!
One other point I’ll mention about the merits of sardines: they are mercury free. Today, there are few fish we can say that about! Salmon, tuna, and many other large fish are loaded in mercury. But, since sardines are small baby fish, they haven’t had time to build up levels of mercury. We can eat these health-giving little gems of the sea without worry of adding even more mercury to our bodies. Hip, Hip, Hurray for Sardines!
Here is the “recipe” for Sardine Wraps:
1 3.25oz can sardines packed in soybean oil
leftover salad (mixed greens, onions, radish, carrots)
sprouted grain tortillas
Vegenaise with grapeseed oil
balsamic vinegar

Spread two tortillas with mixture of mayo and balsamic vinegar. Top with salad and half can of sardines per wrap. Wrap. Pray. Eat!

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