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An illustration presenting a choice between two canned fish products. On the left is a can labeled "Canned Tuna" with a cartoon fish logo, and on the right is a can labeled "Canned Sardines" with a fish illustration. The text above reads "This or That?" with "VS" between the cans, prompting you to choose which is healthier.

Canned Tuna vs Canned Sardines – Which is Healthier?

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Our Verdict

When comparing canned tuna to canned sardines, we picked the sardines.


This comparison is unfair, but practical—because both are sold next to each other in the supermarket and often used for similar things.

It’s unfair because in a can of tuna, there is tuna meat, whereas in a can of sardines, there is sardine meat, skin, and bones.

Consequently, sardines outperform tuna in almost everything, because a lot of nutrients are in the skin and bones.

To be completely unambiguous:

Sardines have more vitamins and minerals by far (special shout-out to calcium, of which sardines contain 6000% more), and more choline (which is sometimes reckoned as a vitamin, sometimes not).

Tuna does have marginally more protein, and less fat. If you are trying to limit your cholesterol intake, then that could be an argument for choosing tuna over sardines.

All in all: the sardines are more nutrient dense by far, are good sources of vitamins and minerals that tuna contains less of (and in many cases only trace amounts of), and for most people this will more than offset the difference in cholesterol, especially if having not more than one can per day.

About that skin and bones…

That’s where the real benefit for your joints lies, by the way!

See: We Are Such Stuff As Fish Are Made Of


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