Mackerel vs. Sardine — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
Sardine is richer in minerals and some vitamins and has lower saturated fats. It contains 24 times more calcium than mackerel. On the other hand, mackerel is lower in cholesterol and has more potassium and vitamins.
Table of contents
Although there are a thousand different types of fish, a small group of them is edible. Nevertheless, fishies are the most commonly used marine food. This article shows the main nutritional differences between sardine and mackerel and their impact on human health.
Sardines belong to the Clupeidae family, laterally flattened white fishies with a length of 20 cm. These fishes usually live in warm water.
The name Mackerels is commonly used for several different species of pelagic fish. Mackerels mainly belong to the Scombridae family; they live close to the bottom of oceans or lakes. These fishes are blue-green, on average about 30 cm in length .
Both fishes have entirely different tastes. Sardines has a more assertive taste, while mackerel is mild and buttery.
Sardines feed on plankton more than other fishes, which means they contain no mercury. They can be used in salads, with avocado, and pasta as a snack on crackers. Mackerels are also used in salad, with a mustardy vinaigrette tossed or tucked into a sandwich with buttered bread and some fresh greens .
Sardines and mackerel are rich in healthy compounds and macronutrients. To better understand the difference between them, we created a nutritional infographic. It shows that sardine is higher in water and protein, while mackerel is richer in fats. Let's examine these differences in detail.
Being animal food products, sardine and mackerel are both rich in protein. However, sardine is slightly higher in protein than mackerel. Fish are considered white meat and are a great source of essential amino acids.
Mackerel is 8g higher in fats than the sardine. It is 4 times richer in saturated and two times higher in monounsaturated fats. Sardine contains more amounts of polyunsaturated fats.
It is surprising that sardine is 67mg higher in cholesterol.
Fat Type Comparison
Mackerel is richer in vitamins. It contains more Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12. Just 2-3 ounces of mackerel contains an adult's daily B12 requirement.
Sardine has more mackerel is also higher than mackerel .
Both of these fishes tend to be high in calories. However, mackerel contains more calories than crab meat. This fish contains 262 calories per 100 g, whereas sardine contains 208 calories per 100 g  .
Overall, sardine is relatively richer in some vitamins than mackerel. It contains more iron, copper, calcium, zinc, and phosphorus. The level of calcium in sardine is 24 times higher than in mackerel. On the other hand, mackerel is higher in magnesium almost two times. Mackerel is also low in sodium .
Both sardine and mackerel are good sources of healthy nutrients, from omega-3 fatty acids to Vitamin D and proteins.
Including fish oil in your daily meal or diet can improve metabolic features connected with type 2 diabetes. Studies show that fish oil may lower the risk of impaired glucose tolerance and hepatic steatosis. N–3 fatty acids from fatty fish and n–6 fatty acids from linoleic acid are recommended for patients with type 2 diabetes because of their positive effects on lipoprotein concentrations. Sardines and mackerels are also good sources of magnesium, which deficiency has been associated with chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus  .
Eating two servings of fatty fish per week, equal to 250 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, will help you reduce the risk of heart disease. Based on studies,omega-3 fatty acids may help balance blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing heart diseases. Fishes are also high in potassium and protein, which may lower blood pressure. e.
Sardine and mackerel contain a high level of gamma-tocopherol (GT), which has beneficial cardiovascular effects partly due to its anti-inflammatory activity  .
Vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus are essential elements for bone health.
Sardines are good sources of calcium, providing about a third of the amount needed by the average person in each serving. They are also rich in phosphorus and Vitamin D, which are vital to this process since they allow your body to absorb calcium .
Good Eye Health
According to the study, omega three fats may reduce inflammation, improving dry eye symptoms. Also, they can reduce abnormal vessel growth in those with diabetic retinopathy.
Similar studies have shown a reduction in the risk of age-related macular degeneration due to sardine's high antioxidant compounds .
Boost Immune System
Research shows that bioactive proteins, peptides from fish high in omega-3 fats, have immunomodulatory effects. Besides, mackerel contains a high amount of selenium and magnesium, which have – antioxidant activities and may help lower oxidative stress levels in the body, reducing inflammation and enhancing immunity .
Sardines are low in calories and fats and high in protein. Protein may help you to feel full for longer. As a result, it reduces the total number of calories you eat. Sardines are a good choice in the case of low-fat diets. On the other hand, sardines and mackerels are excellent sources of omega-3 fats that promote weight loss and decrease belly fat in overweight individuals .
Sardines contain purines that can lead to kidney stones. Purines break down into uric acid in the human body, so they aren't a good choice for those at risk of kidney stone formation. The high sodium level of sardines may also increase calcium in your urine, another risk factor for kidney stones .
Sodium is an essential mineral that is needed by our body. Nevertheless, it is better to control sodium intake to less than 2,3 mg daily. Too much salt may cause swollen hands and kidney stones. Mackerel contains high sodium to adjust your daily intake .
Other side effects
According to studies, patients should avoid fish oil from the day before chemotherapy until after. Also, researchers warn those with cancer to avoid fish oil supplements and remove herring and mackerel from the menu during chemotherapy.
Based on studies, 0.4% of adults in the USA have an allergy to shellfish. These fishes contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can have side effects, including a fishy aftertaste and gastrointestinal upset. The protein parvalbumin in the muscles of most fish can cause allergies. Symptoms are expected, including hives, skin rashes, headaches, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. However, this is dose-dependent and should be chosen carefully .
The mercury in seafood depends on species and environmental pollution levels. In particular, King mackerel contains a high amount of mercury, but you can substitute it with Atlantic mackerel due to its low mercury levels.
Sardines have a low mercury content because they eat plankton .
- Utilization of zooplankton energy by a Pacific sardine population theteh California current
Comparison summary table
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Cholesterol|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Glycemic Index||Equal|
|Lower in price||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Vitamin A RAE||54µg||32µg|
|Omega-3 - DHA||0.699g||0.509g|
|Omega-3 - EPA||0.504g||0.473g|
|Omega-3 - DPA||0.106g||0g|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet||Equal|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Glycemic Index diet||Equal|
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Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.
- Mackerel - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/175120/nutrients
- Sardine - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/175139/nutrients
All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.