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Sardine vs Mackerel - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Sardine
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Mackerel

Introduction

Although there are a thousand types of species of fish, a small group of them is edible. Nevertheless, fishies are the most commonly used marine food. In this article, you can find the main differences between sardine and mackerel and their impact on human health.

Varieties

Sardines belong to the Clupeidae family, they are laterally flattened white fishies, with a length within 20 cm. These fishes usually live in warm water. 

The name Mackerels is commonly used for several different species of pelagic fish. Mackerels mostly 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 [1].

Uses

Both fishes have completely different tastes. Sardines are more assertive, while mackerel is mild and buttery,  but they can be used in similar ways․

Compared with other fishes, sardines feed on plankton, which means they contain no mercury. They can be used in salads, with avocado, with 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 [2].

NUTRITION

Sardines and mackerel are rich in healthy compounds and macronutrients. To better understand the difference between them, we created a nutritional infographic. Find it at the bottom of this page.

Vitamins

Sardine and mackerel are rich in vitamins. Sardine contains more Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, and B3. The amount of Vitamin B1 is 3 times higher in sardine. Mackerel is high in Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, Vitamin D, Vitamins K, and E. Just 2-3 ounces of mackerel contains an adult's daily B12 requirement. This fish has 4 times higher amount of Vitamin D and 2 times higher level of Vitamin K. The level of Folate in mackerel is also higher than in sardine [3].

Macronutrients and Glycemic Index

In general, the protein level of sardine is higher than in mackerel. Sardine contains 25 g protein per 100 g, while mackerel contains equal. Both fishes contain no sugar, no fiber, and have the same glycemic index equal to 0. Mackerel is lower in cholesterol, but sardine is lower in fats.

Calories

Both of these fishes tend to be high in calories. However, mackerel contains more calories, than crab meat. This fish contains 350 calories per 100 g, whereas crab meat contains 208 calories per 100 g [4] [5].

Minerals

Overall, sardine relatively is richer in some vitamins, than mackerel. It contains more iron, copper, calcium, zinc, and phosphorus. The level of calcium in sardine is 6 times higher than in mackerel. On the other hand, mackerel is higher in potassium and magnesium almost 2 times. Mackerel is also high in sodium [6].

Potassium

Both fishes are good sources of potassium. Potassium is an important mineral, which has essential functions in the human body. It helps to balance the water level and blood pressure. Mackerel has a higher potassium content than sardine. It contains 520 mg per 100 g, whereas crab meat contains 397 mg per 100g [6].

HEALTH IMPACT

Both sardine and mackerel are good sources of healthy nutrients from omega-3 fatty acids, to vitamin D, and proteins.

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. Including fish oil in your daily meal or diets can improve metabolic features connected with type 2 diabetes. Sardines and mackerels are also good sources of magnesium, which deficiency has been associated with chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus [7] [8].

Cardiovascular Health

Based on studies,omega-3 fatty acids may help to balance blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing heart disease. It is enough to eat two servings of fatty fish per week, which is equal to 250 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids to avoid cardiovascular problems. These fishes are also high in potassium, and protein, which may lower blood pressure.

Sardine and mackerel contain a high level of gamma-tocopherol (gT), which has beneficial cardiovascular effects partly due to its anti-inflammatory activity [9] [10]. 

Bone Health

Vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus are the most important 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 as well since they allow your body to absorb calcium [11].

Good Eye Health

According to the study, omega 3 fats may reduce inflammation, which can improve 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 [12].

Boost Immune System

Research shows that bioactive proteins, peptides, or protein hydrolysates from fishes 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 to lower oxidative stress levels in the body, which in turn reduces inflammation and enhances immunity [13].

Weight Loss

Sardines are low in calories, fats, and high in protein. Protein may help you to feel full for longer, as a result, reduce the total number of calories that you eat. Sardines are a good choice in the case of low fats diets. On the other hand, sardines and mackerels are both great sources of omega-3 fats that can promote weight loss and decrease belly fat in overweight individuals [14].

SIDE EFFECTS

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, which is another risk factor for kidney stones [15].

Sodium

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 per day. Too much salt may cause swollen hands and kidney stones. Mackerel contains a high amount of sodium, so try to adjust daily intake [16]. 

Other side effects

According to studies, patients should avoid fish oil from the day before chemotherapy until the day thereafter. Also, researchers warn those with cancer to avoid fish oil supplements and remove herring and mackerel from the menu during chemotherapy.

Allergy

Based on studies, 0.4% of adults in the USA have an allergy to shellfish. The protein parvalbumin in the muscles of most fish can cause allergies. Symptoms are common, including hives, skin rashes, headaches, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. These fishes contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can have side effects, including a fishy aftertaste and gastrointestinal upset. However, this is dose-dependent and should be chosen carefully [17]. 

SUMMARY

Sardine is relatively richer in minerals, some vitamins and has lower saturated fats. It contains 6 times more Calcium than mackerel. On the other hand, mackerel is lower in cholesterol and has a higher amount of potassium and Vitamin D.

References

  1. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/225940653.pdf
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2989/025776187784522243
  3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02982617
  4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1007327304925
  5. https://books.google.am/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Wn2gcNvYNrsC&oi=fnd&pg=PA265&dq=calories+of+sardine+&ots=vGvOANSOLi&sig=6kw-mFNPaFzI6Sr1mvrhC6Npe74&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=calories%20of%20sardine&f=false
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6683256/
  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0899900713001044
  8. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/94/1/26/4597878?login=true
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4278211/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3712371/
  11. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0009912012002391
  12. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0701/p133.html
  13. https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/20/20/5028
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17502874/
  15. https://academic.oup.com/ajhp/article-abstract/63/8/772/5136008
  16. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2589537021000304
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27613460/
Article author photo Elen Khachatrian
Profession: Nutrition & Microbiology at YSU
Last updated: July 20, 2021

Infographic

Sardine vs Mackerel infographic
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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 +108.6%
Contains more Calcium +478.8%
Contains more Copper +86%
Contains more Zinc +19.1%
Contains more Phosphorus +92.9%
Contains less Sodium -93.1%
Contains more Potassium +31%
Contains more Magnesium +53.8%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 110% 115% 36% 28% 62% 36% 210% 41%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 53% 20% 46% 43% 34% 30% 109% 581%
Contains more Iron +108.6%
Contains more Calcium +478.8%
Contains more Copper +86%
Contains more Zinc +19.1%
Contains more Phosphorus +92.9%
Contains less Sodium -93.1%
Contains more Potassium +31%
Contains more Magnesium +53.8%

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 B1 +300%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +19.5%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +58.9%
Contains more Vitamin A +45.4%
Contains more Vitamin E +16.7%
Contains more Vitamin D +425%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +145.5%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +34.2%
Contains more Vitamin K +200%
Contains more Folate +50%
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% 10% 48% 756% 5% 44% 62% 0% 95% 1500% 20% 12%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +300%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +19.5%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +58.9%
Contains more Vitamin A +45.4%
Contains more Vitamin E +16.7%
Contains more Vitamin D +425%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +145.5%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +34.2%
Contains more Vitamin K +200%
Contains more Folate +50%

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
131
Sardine
212
Mackerel
Mineral Summary Score
79
Sardine
114
Mackerel

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 food.
Protein
148%
Sardine
111%
Mackerel
Carbohydrates
0%
Sardine
0%
Mackerel
Fats
53%
Sardine
116%
Mackerel

Comparison summary table

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

Which food is preferable for your diet?

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

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Comparison summary

Which food contains less Sodium?
Sardine
Sardine contains less Sodium (difference - 4143mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Sardine
Sardine is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 5.62g)
Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Mackerel
Mackerel is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 47mg)
Which food contains less Sugar?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Sugar (0 g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (0)
Which food is cheaper?
?
The foods are relatively equal in price ($7)
Which food is richer in minerals?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Sardine Mackerel Opinion
Calories 208 305 Mackerel
Protein 24.62 18.5 Sardine
Fats 11.45 25.1 Mackerel
Vitamin C 0 0
Carbs 0 0
Cholesterol 142 95 Mackerel
Vitamin D 193 1006 Mackerel
Iron 2.92 1.4 Sardine
Calcium 382 66 Sardine
Potassium 397 520 Mackerel
Magnesium 39 60 Mackerel
Sugar 0 0
Fiber 0 0
Copper 0.186 0.1 Sardine
Zinc 1.31 1.1 Sardine
Starch
Phosphorus 490 254 Sardine
Sodium 307 4450 Sardine
Vitamin A 108 157 Mackerel
Vitamin E 2.04 2.38 Mackerel
Vitamin D 4.8 25.2 Mackerel
Vitamin B1 0.08 0.02 Sardine
Vitamin B2 0.227 0.19 Sardine
Vitamin B3 5.245 3.3 Sardine
Vitamin B5 0.642 Sardine
Vitamin B6 0.167 0.41 Mackerel
Vitamin B12 8.94 12 Mackerel
Vitamin K 2.6 7.8 Mackerel
Folate 10 15 Mackerel
Trans Fat
Saturated Fat 1.528 7.148 Sardine
Monounsaturated Fat 3.869 8.32 Mackerel
Polyunsaturated fat 5.148 6.21 Mackerel
Tryptophan 0.276 Sardine
Threonine 1.079 Sardine
Isoleucine 1.134 Sardine
Leucine 2.001 Sardine
Lysine 2.26 Sardine
Methionine 0.729 Sardine
Phenylalanine 0.961 Sardine
Valine 1.268 Sardine
Histidine 0.725 Sardine
Fructose

References

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 to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Sardine - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/175139/nutrients
  2. Mackerel - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168149/nutrients

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

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