Sardines, locally referred to as ‘saradin’ are small fish packed with nutrients and less calories.
Apart from being budget-friendly, sardines are rich in proteins and a whole lot of essential vitamins, according to nutritionists.
Marie Ann Munezero, a Kigali-based nutritionist, says the good thing about this type of fish is that it’s easy for one to incorporate in their diet, as they are easy to eat as well as prepare in many different ways.
She says that sardines contain omega-3 which is essential to the body in many ways such as preventing and managing heart diseases.
For instance, one kilogram of sardines contains over half of the recommended daily dose of omega-3, she says.
According to her, the fish also provide both EPA and DHA fats which are beneficial for brain and heart function, and also reduce inflammation.
Various studies show that consuming enough omega-3 keeps cholesterol levels in healthy ranges for the heart and facilitates optimal fertility and hormone balance.
Alexis Mucumbitsi, the head of the Nutrition and Hygiene Department in National Early Childhood Care and Development Program (NECDP), says sardines are a great protein choice.
He says these tiny fish are considered a very efficient type of food since they contain a high amount of vitamins and proteins.
For instance, he says, they are an excellent source of vitamins such as vitamin B 12, vitamin D, calcium and selenium that are all vital to our health.
Vitamin B 12 is important because it is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells.
It also helps prevent a type of anaemia called megaloblastic anaemia that makes people tired and weak.
In addition to these vitamins, Mucumbitsi says sardines are also a great source of calcium.
“Calcium is extremely important. 99 per cent of the body’s calcium is stored in the bones and teeth where it supports their structure and strength,” he says.
He, hence, goes on to add that the body needs calcium to maintain strong bones and to carry out many important functions.
“The body also needs calcium for muscles to move and for nerves to carry messages between the brain and other body parts,” he says.
Sardines have anti-cancer properties too because of the presence of calcium and vitamin D. They are very helpful in the prevention of certain types of cancer.
Munezero notes that sardines also contain selenium which is helpful in neutralising free radicals and protection of body organs from damage.
Eating sardines can also help control blood sugar levels, she says, explaining that this is due to their high richness in protein and healthy fat that works to slow down the absorption of sugar into the blood.
For those with a high appetite, she recommends opting for these small fish for they can help curb the appetite. This is because sardines prevent food cravings and unnecessary snacking.
“This happens due to their high protein and high-fat content which helps to promote weight loss because it fills one up easily,” she says.
Studies have proved that there is a strong correlation between omega-3 fatty acids and a lack of depression. As a result, they can help prevent mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, Mucumbitsi points out.Follow Lydia_AtienoM