Sardines ("pilchards") are a nutrient-rich, small, oily fish widely consumed by humans and as forage fish by larger fish species, seabirds and marine mammals. Sardines are a source of omega-3 fatty acids. Sardines are often served in cans, but can also be eaten grilled, pickled, or smoked when fresh.
Sardines are rich in vitamins and minerals. A small serving of sardines once a day can provide up to 13% of the RDA (recommended daily allowance) value of vitamin B2, roughly one-quarter of the RDA of niacin, and about 150% of the RDA of vitamin B12.
All B vitamins help to support proper nervous system function and are used for energy metabolism. Also, sardines are high in the major minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and some trace minerals such as iron and selenium.
Sardines are also a natural source of marine omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce the occurrence of cardiovascular disease. They are also a good source of vitamin D, calcium, and protein.
Because they are low in the food chain, sardines are very low in contaminants, such as mercury, relative to other fish commonly eaten by humans.