These little fish known for their smell pack a health punch.

By Lambeth Hochwald

Sardines may not be the top seafood of choice for most of us, but maybe they should be. This fatty fish contains the most EPA and DHA omega-3s, which have been shown to benefit our hearts, brains and eyes. Sardines are also a prime source of vitamin B-12 and an excellent source of selenium, an antioxidant associated with reduced cancer risk, vitamin D, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium and protein.

“We need sardines to reduce inflammation and lower unhealthy cholesterol levels,” says Debi Silber, a dietitianin Long Island, New York. “They’re also high in protein, which means they’ll keep you full longer.”

There’s more to broaden the appeal of these oily canned fish.

“Sardines also contain important nutrients that protect bone health, prevent insulin spikes and even help keep your moods steady and calm,” Silber adds. “They’re also really easy to find in most supermarkets.”

And, with all the worries about toxicity in our seafood supply, this is one fish you don’t have to worry about.

“Sardines are the lower fish in the food chain so they contain no mercury compared to most fish Americans tend to eat,” says Nicole Granato, a nutrition and wellness coach in Los Angeles.

Best of all, once you get used to them, they’re super easy to prepare. You can eat them raw, baked, broiled with infused oil, grilled (just add a dash of salt, pepper, garlic and lemon), mixed into salads, pastas and sauce or in salad dressing.

Or, just keep it simple. “I love eating sardines with lemon, salt and avocado on dark rye bread,” Granato adds.