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Sardine vs Salmon - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison



In general, fish is the most popular marine food consumed by humans. In this article the differences and similarities of sardine and salmon will be discussed, specifically focusing on their nutritional data, usage in certain diet regimens, and health impacts.

Sardines are usually harvested from the mediternean sea, european shores of the atlantic, and north atlantic.
On the other hand, salmon are mostly harvested from farms which are grown in basins. Although some wild salmon are found in the market, most of the salmon that is easily accessible are harvested from basins.  

Culinary world 

Sardines are mostly found in cans with vegetable oil. However, during harvest seasons in the mediatranean countries and european countries of the atlantic, sardines can be found grilled and smoked.

Fresh salmon on the other hand can be available year long because they are mostly farmed and not wild. Salmon is eaten raw, specifically in Japanese sushi. They can also be grilled and smoked, and served as a salmon steak. Salmon is also found in european countries in soups and warm dishes. 


In this part of the article, a comparison between the nutritional data of sardine and salmon per 100g of each is discussed. The sardine discussed in the article is canned in oil. 


Sardine and salmon are rich in minerals. Sardines are richer in calcium, phosphorus, selenium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and sodium. It is important to note that the sodium levels of sardine have to be taken into consideration specifically in hypertensive patients. It is also very important to be careful of added salt in canned sardines. Salmon, on the other hand, is richer in potassium, and copper. 


Sardine is richer in vitamin B12, B2, E, D, and A. On the other hand, salmon is richer in B6 and B3. They have a rich vitamin B complex profile.


Both sardine and salmon contain no carbohydrates.


Sardine and salmon are considered to be high in proteins. Sardine is richer in proteins compared to salmon. 

The essential amino acid profile of sardines is richer compared to that of salmon. However, both are considered to have rich essential amino acid profiles.


Sardines have higher amounts of fats compared to salmon. Sardine satisfies 17% of the daily value. Whereas, salmon satisfies 9% of the daily value.

Fat profile dissection 

Saturated fat

Sardines have higher amounts of saturated fats, as it makes up 10% of the daily value. Salmon fulfills only 5% of the daily value.

It is important to take into consideration the amounts of saturated fats in both. 

Monounsaturated fats

Sardines are richer in monounsaturated fats compared to salmon.

Polyunsaturated fats

Polyunsaturated fats make up the omega-3 element of the fish, and \ will be discussed separately due to their importance. It is important to note that sardines are richer in polyunsaturated fats.


Sardines have higher amounts of cholesterol. The cholesterol content of sardine is nearly 50% of the daily required value. 

Omega-3 fatty acid

Fatty fish like sardine and salmon are one of the richest sources of dietary supply of omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid).

These fatty acids are an essential fat with various health beneficial properties.
Their health relevance will be discussed in the health impact section.


100g of sardines have 208 calories compared to salmon which have 142 calories. Thus, sardines are higher in calories compared to salmon.

Glycemic index

The glycemic index for these products is 0.

Weight loss and diets

Sardine and salmon are low-carb and high-fat foods. So the amount of fat should be taken into consideration during weight loss or different diets.

Sardine and salmon are also a great source of protein, minerals, and vitamins.


Sardine and salmon are considered as perfect foods in keto diets. They are low-carb high-fat foods. It is important to note that the fat profile of these fish are healthy fats. However, it is important to keep in mind the high cholesterol content of sardine while consuming.
The mineral and vitamin content of sardine give the edge over salmon.

Salmon, on the other hand, has a wider range of versatility and accessibility during cooking. 


Both sardine and salmon cannot be consumed in vegan diets.


Both sardine and salmon are highly recommended to bodybuilders and athletes, due to their high protein content. In addition to their mineral and vitamin contents that replenishes their biochemical necessity to maintain good health and long term results.

Health impact 

Cardiovascular Health

Omega 3 fatty acids may improve cardiac function by their activity of lower blood triglyceride levels, antihypertensive, antiarrhythmic and anti-atherogenic effects. (1) 

Omega-3 fatty acids, as antiarrhythmic, have antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory properties. These fatty acids also are used to treat hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and rheumatoid arthritis. There are no significant drug interactions with omega-3 fatty acids.(2)  

Journal of the American Medical Association researchers have found that the omega-3 fatty acids can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of developing heart disease. (3) Salmon contain bioactive PLs with strong antithrombotic and anti-atherogenic cardioprotective activities. (4) 

Higher doses of omega-3 fatty acids are required to reduce elevated triglyceride levels (2 to 4g per day) and to reduce morning stiffness and the number of tender joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (at least 3g per day). (5) (6) 

Studies have found that the gamma tocopherol (gT) exhibits beneficial cardiovascular effects partly due to its anti-inflammatory activity. (7)


Dietary suggestions, including modification of dietary fat quality, is the basis of treatment of diabetes. The risk related to the moderately higher blood glucose concentrations with the omega 3–enriched diet may be counteracted by positive effects with regard to lipoprotein concentrations. An increase in long-chain omega 3 fatty acids from fatty fish (salmon, sardine), and of omega 6 fatty acids from linoleic acid, may be recommended for patients with type 2 diabetes. (8)
Some studies show that the high-fat diet combined with fish oil improved metabolic features associated with type 2 diabetes such as impaired glucose tolerance and hepatic steatosis. (9) 


Few studies  indicate that essential fatty acid consumption may influence the risk of developing cancer. Fat from both contains <20–25% saturated fatty acids, the fat-soluble vitamins A and D as we know omega–3 fatty acids are important components of cell membranes and appear to have anti-inflammatory effects and inhibit in vitro the growth of colon, breast, and prostate cancers (10) 


Due to omega 3 content salmon and sardine has anti-inflammatory effects which may  contribute to their protective actions towards atherosclerosis, plaque rupture and cardiovascular mortality. (11)
Regulation of the production of proinflammatory prostaglandins and hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid via the cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase pathways via fatty acids play a major role in inflammation, proliferation, and angiogenesis, which are variables that are key drivers in cancer progression. (12)

Antioxidant activity 

Salmon as a red colored fish have carotenoids (astaxanthin). Astaxanthin has biological functions related to growth, reproduction and tissue health possibly due to the compound’s strong antioxidant properties. (13)  

Astaxanthin has also bioactive characteristics against H. pylori. (14)

Impact on bones

These two organisms serve as an alternate source for calcium. (15)  

Sardine as a small fish could be eaten with the bones can be a rich source of Ca, even though Ca from bone may be considered unavailable for absorption. (16)
So these products, which contain calcium, may help lessen gout attacks as well as protect your bones. (17) 

Vitamin D present in sardines has also a beneficial impact on bone health and formation. (18)

Downsides and Risks 


Due to contamination, farmed salmon and sardine might lead to an increased risk of cancer. Fish grown under appropriate conditions may have low risk of toxicity and cancer. (19)


Methylmercury found in wild salmon can accumulate in body tissues. It can have a negative impact on the baby's brain and nervous system development. For salmon rapid growth rates and a high lipid content may play important roles in regulating concentrations of contaminants such as mercury. Salmon and sardines are fed on plankton only, which means they don't contain the high levels of mercury that other fish do. (20) 


Some studies show that the high cholesterol content in sardine might be associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes (21) 


In summary sardine is richer in Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron and Phosphorus, while salmon is significantly richer in Vitamin B6. Sardine also contains considerably less cholesterol and sodium, while Salmon has less calories because it contains more water and less fats.


Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Profession: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: April 4, 2021


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Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Contains more Iron +265%
Contains more Calcium +3083.3%
Contains more Magnesium +34.5%
Contains more Zinc +104.7%
Contains more Phosphorus +145%
Contains more Potassium +23.4%
Contains more Copper +34.4%
Contains less Sodium -85.7%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 110% 115% 36% 28% 62% 36% 210% 41%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 30% 4% 44% 21% 84% 18% 86% 6%
Contains more Iron +265%
Contains more Calcium +3083.3%
Contains more Magnesium +34.5%
Contains more Zinc +104.7%
Contains more Phosphorus +145%
Contains more Potassium +23.4%
Contains more Copper +34.4%
Contains less Sodium -85.7%

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Contains more Vitamin A +170%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +181.1%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +182.5%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +67.4%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +49.9%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +159.2%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +389.8%
Contains more Folate +150%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 0% 7% 41% 144% 20% 53% 99% 39% 39% 1118% 7% 8%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 0% 3% 0% 0% 57% 88% 148% 100% 189% 398% 0% 19%
Contains more Vitamin A +170%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +181.1%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +182.5%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +67.4%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +49.9%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +159.2%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +389.8%
Contains more Folate +150%

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

Summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfils human daily needs, the more the summary score is
Vitamin Summary Score
Mineral Summary Score

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food

Comparison summary table

Pay attention at the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Sardine Salmon
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Sugars ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in glycemic index Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

Which food is preferable in case of diets?

is better in case of low diet
Sardine Salmon
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet Equal
Low glycemic index diet Equal

People also compare

Comparison summary

Which food is richer in minerals?
Sardine is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is cheaper?
Sardine is cheaper (difference - $6)
Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Salmon is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 87mg)
Which food contains less Sugars?
Salmon contains less Sugars (difference - 0g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Salmon contains less Sodium (difference - 263mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Salmon is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.547g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (0)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
It cannot be definitely stated which food is richer in vitamins. See charts below for detailed information.

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

In the column "Opinion" we made some assumptions which could be controversial. For instance we are assuming that less saturated fats is good for you. Please ignore this column if you have your own opinion.We marked the nutrients, comparison of which we considered as not meaningful, as "N/A"
Nutrient Sardine Salmon Opinion
Calories 208 142 Sardine
Protein 24.62 19.84 Sardine
Fats 11.45 6.34 Sardine
Vitamin C 0 0
Carbs 0 0
Cholesterol 142 55 Salmon
Vitamin D 193 Sardine
Iron 2.92 0.8 Sardine
Calcium 382 12 Sardine
Potassium 397 490 Salmon
Magnesium 39 29 Sardine
Sugars 0 Salmon
Fiber 0 0
Copper 0.186 0.25 Salmon
Zinc 1.31 0.64 Sardine
Phosphorus 490 200 Sardine
Sodium 307 44 Salmon
Vitamin A 108 40 Sardine
Vitamin E 2.04 Sardine
Vitamin D 4.8 Sardine
Vitamin B1 0.08 0.226 Salmon
Vitamin B2 0.227 0.38 Salmon
Vitamin B3 5.245 7.86 Salmon
Vitamin B5 0.642 1.664 Salmon
Vitamin B6 0.167 0.818 Salmon
Vitamin B12 8.94 3.18 Sardine
Vitamin K 2.6 Sardine
Folate 10 25 Salmon
Trans Fat
Saturated Fat 1.528 0.981 Salmon
Monounsaturated Fat 3.869 2.103 Sardine
Polyunsaturated fat 5.148 2.539 Sardine
Tryptophan 0.276 0.222 Sardine
Threonine 1.079 0.87 Sardine
Isoleucine 1.134 0.914 Sardine
Leucine 2.001 1.613 Sardine
Lysine 2.26 1.822 Sardine
Methionine 0.729 0.587 Sardine
Phenylalanine 0.961 0.775 Sardine
Valine 1.268 1.022 Sardine
Histidine 0.725 0.584 Sardine


The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links of the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Sardine -
  2. Salmon -

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.