Sardines Side Effects + Benefits

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 08/03/22 •  13 min read
sardine benefits and side effects

What are sardine side effects and benefits every ethical consumer must know? Here are sardine pros and cons and how buying it will impact your health, the environment, animals and laborers. 

Food is something we consume every day and if you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on sardine side effects and benefits.

You are going to learn all about sardine benefits and side effects. This will include sardine benefits for your health and potential risks, sardine carbon footprint, sardine sustainability, if sardines are vegan or impact animals in other ways, and much more. 

After learning if sardines are good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be prepared to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.

This post is all about sardine benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.

Must-Know Sardine Benefits And Side Effects

Health

Energy: sardines are good for / help boost mood, brain health, treat disorders like anxiety and depression | sardines are bad for / increase the risk of memory loss from PBCs, sickness from bacterial contamination, seafood is the number one cause of food poisoning in the United States, which leads to many side effects and causes extreme discomfort, high levels of mercury can lead to depression and anxiety

Longevity: sardines are good for / help bone strengthening, boost immunity, cardiovascular health, combat free radicals, decrease arterial plaque formation, lower (bad) LDL cholesterol, regulate blood pressure | sardines are bad for / increase the risk of toxic chemicals known to cause cancer and brain degeneration, toxic contaminants and heavy metals from polluted water habitats, PBCs may cause liver damage, nervous system disorders, and fetal damage, dioxins, also linked to cancer and death, radioactive substances like strontium 90 and other dangerous contaminants like cadmium, mercury poisoning, lead, chromium, and arsenic, which can cause health problems such as kidney damage, impaired mental development and cancer, high levels of mercury can lead to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, mercury exposure can also lead to high blood pressure, an increased risk of heart attacks and higher “bad” LDL cholesterol

Appearance: sardines are good for / help muscle building, weight loss

Sardines are…

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Environment

Water footprint: unknown

Carbon footprint: high, 5.4 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of other marine fish, a car driving equivalent of 12.5 miles or 20 kilometers

Destruction: high, sardine production is relatively destructive, negative impact on marine ecosystems, discarded fishing nets pollute oceans, fishing damages coral, sponges and poses severe threat to marine habitats

Sardines are…

Animals

Kills: sardines, a type of small fish

Harms: sardines, a type of small fish, farmed fish spend their entire lives (up to two years) confined in tightly packed spaces, most farmed fish are predators and eat smaller fish, billions of wild fish must be caught in order to feed them, it can take several pounds of ocean fish to produce just one pound of farmed fish 

Indirectly kills or harms: sea-life, such as dolphins, sea turtles, protected fish, whales, seabirds etc. known as “bycatch”, unwanted marine life that unintentionally get caught, hooked and entangled in fishing nets

Sardines are…

Laborers

Health and safety: hazardous, fishing workers are at risk of accident, injury, and death, reports show 20% of workers and almost 50% of trafficked victims have been injured on the job, injuries include cuts, broken bone, lost fingers, hands and limbs, head injuries, electrocutions, workers get caught in machinery, get thrown overboard, deaths are reported, boat decks are slippery and in constant motion, there can be hazardous machinery present

Living conditions: poor, fishing boats often lack toilets, intensive labor, rapid exhaustion, workers are held at sea and work against their will, they load catch onto bigger, commercial fishing boats in exchange for food and supplies, seafood caught illegally from slave worker boats gets mixed in with legal, commercial fishing boats in order to remain undetected, boats filled with trafficked migrants do not dock, sometimes for years, keeping slave workers unseen, trapped at sea, continuing forced labor and abuse

continued…

fishing industries around the world are responsible for systematic, illegal, fishing practices, human rights abuse, fishing workers are vulnerable to human trafficking and slave labor, in countries like Thailand (the third largest seafood exporter in the world), Burma, Indonesia, and Fiji seafood slavery is a major issue for migrant workers originally from Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, seafood consumed in the United States is mostly from foreign sources

Wages: low, recruiters promise well paying jobs to poor, unskilled and vulnerable laborers, recruiters trick migrants into thinking they must work to pay off their debts, referred to as “debt peonage”, and little to no compensation for their work is given for long periods and maybe even years and are paid below the minimum wage 

Sardines…

The world’s top sardine exporting country is Japan, followed by Morocco, Spain, Pakistan, Netherlands, Estonia, Latvia, Portugal, Croatia and Mexico.

About 80% of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported!

Sardines are high in vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamin D, calcium, vitamin B3, vitamin B2, copper, and choline but high in purines, which your body breaks down into uric acid.

Canned sardines are high in sodium. Farmed sardines contain antibiotics.

sardines are acidic. sardine side effects include not fitting into an alkaline diet.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Are sardines alkaline or acidic?

Sardines are acidic. Fish is an acidic food group.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are found in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

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sardines are gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Are sardines gluten free?

Yes, sardines are gluten free. Sardines do not contain gluten when unseasoned and unbreaded. Sardines are a type of fish, therefore making it a naturally gluten free food. 

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

sardines are a common food allergen: fish. sardine side effects include being dangerous for some.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Are sardines a common food allergen?

Yes, sardines are a common food allergen: fish. Many people experience allergic reactions to sardines.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

sardines are low in mercury. sardine side effects include toxin ingestion, nevertheless.

mercury levels in seafood and fish have dangerous side effects

Are sardines high in mercury?

Compared to other kinds of seafood, sardines are relatively low in mercury but contain mercury nonetheless.

Mercury is metal that produces toxic effects to the body. If consumed in high quantities it poisons the kidneys and nervous system. Mercury occurs naturally at low levels in rock, water and soil…

However, human activity (most notably the burning of fossil fuels) has dangerously increased mercury levels to be around 450% higher than natural. 

Which fish have mercury? Read more about Mercury Levels in Fish

sardines have a high carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Do sardines have a high or low carbon footprint?

Sardines have a high carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of sardines?

It takes around 5.4 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of other marine fish, a car driving equivalent of 12.5 miles or 20 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

sardines are unsustainable. sardine side effects include being environmentally destructive.

sardine side effects include being unsustainable

Overall, are sardines eco friendly? Are sardines sustainable?

Sardine production is relatively unsustainable.

Whether farmed or wild caught, the seafood industry is environmentally destructive due to its direct impact on decreasing marine populations, polluting waters and habitat destruction.

Wild-caught fish and seafood is destructive due to overfishing (when populations die at a greater rate than they are able to replenish). Degraded ecosystems occur as a result and creates an imbalance that impacts important food chains. Consequently, vulnerable aquatic species like sea turtles and coral suffer. Scientists predict oceans will be fishless by 2048. Such a major loss in biodiversity would be catastrophic, as oceans regulate temperature and contribute to half of our oxygen on Earth.

There’s also an alarming amount of plastic pollution in our oceans. Abandoned and lost fishing gear make up more than 85% of all plastic pollution. Nets, traps and hooks continue to kill marine life. According to Greenpeace, “Abandoned fishing nets kill and injure more than 100,000 whales, dolphins, seals and turtles each year”.

Fish farming, or aquafarming, is not a sustainable alternative. Not only do farmed fish need to be fed fish to eat (perpetuating a never-ending cycle of fishing) but waters become contaminated with antibiotics (to prevent disease that inevitably occurs with overcrowded fish confinements), pesticides, parasites and fish feces. The toxic water then spreads to waterways and oceans, polluting ecosystems and eventually killing off wild fish populations.

All of the aforementioned fishing practices occur in order to meet global demand. The obvious solution for protecting our Earth’s oceans and waterways, marine habitats, ecosystems and wildlife is for consumers to significantly reduce or eliminate their seafood demand entirely.

sardines are not vegan. sardine side effects include killing animals for production.

sardine side effects include being not vegan

Are sardines vegan?

No, sardines are not vegan. Sardines are a type of fish, a marine animal, therefore making it an animal-derived food. A sardine must be killed in order to produce sardines. 

Animals of factory farming are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. Growth hormones allow all kinds of animals to become fatter faster and live short lives.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non-Vegan Foods List

sardines are a product with laborer issues. sardine side effects include exploitation.

labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues for the fishing industry

Are sardines a product that has known labor issues?

Yes. There are reports of serious worker mistreatment regarding the seafood industry. Sardines are a product that has human rights concerns.

There are high numbers of trafficked people promised work but then held at sea against their will. Boats filled with trafficked migrants do not dock, sometimes for years on end, keeping slave workers unseen and trapped at sea, continuing the forced labor. Recruiters trick migrants into thinking they must work to pay off their debts, referred to as “debt peonage”. There is little to no compensation for their work which is given for long periods -maybe even years. Seafood caught illegally from slave worker boats gets mixed in with legal, commercial fishing boats in order to remain undetected.

Fishing workers everywhere are at risk of accident, injury, and death. Injuries include cuts, broken bones, lost fingers, hands and limbs, head injuries and electrocutions. Workers get caught in machinery, get thrown overboard and deaths are reported. Boats are in constant motion, decks are slippery and there can be hazardous machinery present.

Fishing industries around the world are responsible for systematic, illegal fishing practices and human rights abuse. Fishing workers are vulnerable to human trafficking and slave labor, especially in countries like Thailand (the third largest seafood exporter in the world), Burma, Indonesia and Fiji. Seafood slavery is a major issue for migrant workers originally from Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

We improve lives around the world if we boycott problematic foods that are difficult for human rights authorities to regulate.

This post was all about sardine side effects and benefits.

Sources:

World Wide Fund for Nature: Overfishing

Animal equality: 4 WAYS THE FISHING INDUSTRY IS DESTROYING THE PLANET

Human rights watch: Hidden Chains Rights Abuses and Forced Labor in Thailand’s Fishing Industry

International Labour Office: Caught at sea

NRDC: Mercury Guide

Adriane Marie

Grocery Guru, Material Maven, Conscious Consumer Connoisseur. I organize ethical info for us to comprehensively see how purchases impact people, animals and the planet. I hope you find HEALabel helpful! Use it for personal and global improvement and empowerment.

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