Sardines: A Pregnancy Pantry Staple

Sardines: A Pregnancy Pantry Staple

Fatty fish like salmon are packed full of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, protein and other nutrients (1) that are essential to pregnancy! While salmon wins the popularity contest, their smaller, fishier cousin may have more to offer... Sardines offer the same essential omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA (2) that salmon is famous for. And along with these essential fats, sardines are a great source of vitamin B12, vitamin D and the minerals phosphorus, selenium, and calcium! (2) These nutrients are important throughout pregnancy to provide ample nutrition as baby grows. (3)

Here are just a few ways eating sardines can benefit pregnant women: (3)

  • The essential fatty acids in sardines support fetal brain development. High levels of EPA/DHA have been associated with improved developmental outcomes later in life!

  • Calcium is constantly being transferred from mom to baby, up to 250-350 mg per day in the last trimester! Getting enough calcium is essential to helping prevent preeclampsia in mom as well.

  • Vitamin D and calcium work together to create new tissue (mostly bone).

  • Vitamin B12 supports proliferation of new cells that form tissues and organs.

Not only are sardines similar to salmon in the nutrition that they provide, they can also be much more affordable! A tin of high-quality sardines, like these, cost $2.50 each and provide around 2 servings (or one big serving!). On the flip side, canned wild caught salmon costs about twice as much!

Opt for wild-caught sardines packaged in either spring water or extra virgin olive oil. Avoid sardines packaged in other types of oil like soybean or canola oil as these oils are typically rancid before hitting the shelves. You can choose bone-in or boneless skinless. (I advocate for bone-in as an extra source of minerals -- the bones are very soft and you won’t notice them!)

My favorite place to buy high-quality canned sardines, salmon and other snacks (while saving big bucks!) is Thrive Market! Get an additional 25% off your first order when you shop through this link:

So how do you eat these little fishies? You could crack open a can and grab a fork… Or, as is my preference.. use them similarly to how you’d use canned tuna!

Here’s a simple recipe!

Quick Sardine Salad on Bed of Fresh Greens

Yield: 2 servings


  • 2 (3.75 oz.) cans sardines, drained

  • ½ cup celery, minced

  • 2 Tablespoons greek yogurt

  • ½ Tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 Tablespoon capers, drained

  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

  • ⅛ teaspoon ground sea salt

  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 cup spinach, raw

  • ½ cup arugula, raw

  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Drain sardines of oil and place into a medium size bowl. Mash sardines with a fork.

  2. Add remaining ingredients, except spinach, arugula and olive oil and mix well.

  3. Wash fresh spinach and arugula and add to serving bowl.

  4. Top greens with sardine salad, drizzle on the extra-virgin olive oil and enjoy!


  1. Fish, salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, dry heat. Accessed July 23, 2018.

  2. Fish, sardine, Atlantic, canned in oil, drained solids with bone. Accessed July 23, 2018.

  3. Pregnancy in brief. Updated August 2016. Accessed July 23, 2018.

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