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Are Sardines Safe and Healthy To Eat? -- Can of Sardines

Answer: tested and reviewed three popular brands of sardines — King Oscar, Season, and Wild Planet. Although some significant differences were found among them, in general, they were all excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, providing about 1,600 to 1,850 mg of DHA + EPA per serving — far more than in comparable servings of canned tuna and salmon that we tested. The sardines were also very low in mercury (ranging from 0.009 to 0.028 ppm) as compared to levels ten to twenty times higher in albacore "white" tunas, which is why those tunas should not be consumed more than once or twice a week.

On the other hand, the sardines were found to contain levels of arsenic (0.9 to 2.2 ppm) similar to that in many canned tunas. Although none exceeded official avoidance levels for arsenic, it would seem prudent not to consume more than one serving of sardines daily — particularly those with higher arsenic levels.

Sardines are also great sources of protein, ranging from 14 to 22 grams per 3 ounce serving among the sardines we reviewed. They can also been a great source of vitamin D — one of the sardines we reviewed claimed a whopping 50% of the Daily Value, while another claimed 15%, although the third made no claim.

In summary, sardines are a very good way to get protein as well as large amounts omega-3 fatty acids while avoiding the high levels of mercury in some other fish, like albacore tuna. However, as sardines do contain small amounts or arsenic, don't eat more than one serving daily.

You can see our test results for sardines and other canned fish as well as our Top Picks among them in our Tuna, Salmon & Sardines Review.

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Join the conversation

Ahmet C23422
September 25, 2021

could you please add Bela sardines (from Portugal) to this test?

June 29, 2021

Always got from COSTCO my Wild Planet Wild Wild Pacific sardines and I liked the taste. CL's concern about its high arsenic content prompted me to switch to top pick Season Brand sardines. I dislike the taste enough to stop eating this fish. I switched back to Wild Planet Wild Wild Pacific sardines, but eat it with less frequence. I hope CL tests more tasty options soon so that I can avoid any amount of arsenic and eat sardines more often.

July 2, 2021

Funny. I prefer seasons's brand over wild planet

September 15, 2020

Would be great if you could include some brands that are purchased by folks on a budget, who can't afford to shop at Trader Joe's or other health food stores. How about Beach Cliff sardines in spring water, or Bumble Bee brand Pink Salmon, or Walmart's Great Value brand Pink salmon. Even though on a limited budget, still trying to eat healthy and get the most omega 3s, while avoiding chemical toxins, heavy metals, and rancid low grade oils. Thanks.
September 18, 2020

Thanks for your suggestions. Please note that we do test many products sold at Walmart (Spring Valley brand supplements) and we tested a Bumble Bee white albacore product. Our product selection was largely driven by the suggestions we received solicited via our newsletter from readers prior to testing.

April 13, 2021

I appreciate that you often evaluate products from Walmart! I would like to add my vote for Dawn20932's suggestion for CL to evaluate more lower-cost brands available in grocery stores, including grocery chains on the US West Coast, like Safeway, Lucky, Raley's, Target, etc.
April 14, 2021

Thank you for your suggestion Carol. Due to our national audience, we tend to focus on products sold nationally. However, we occasionally review products from large regional chains. Target is national, for example, and we have tested many of their Up & Up in-house brand products (

August 2, 2020

In your review of sardines, should we be concerned about the tin containers that contain the sardines? Is there a health risk, both short-term and long-term! Thank you.
August 17, 2020

Most metal containers used in food packaging are lined with an anti-corrosive coating, usually an epoxy resin. As a result, the leaching of metal into food is less of a concern than the leaching of BPA (bisphenol A) that is used to make epoxy resin coating. BPA has been linked with many health concerns. If products we tested noted that their packaging material was BPA-free, we included this in the Notable Features column of our Test Results:

August 2, 2020

As a result of your review and the arsenic issue, I switched from eating a can of sardines daily to having Deming's salmon as my daily staple.... Do you agree?
August 12, 2020

That would seem fine and would reduce exposure to heavy metals.

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