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Are Sardines Keto-Friendly?

Sardines on a kitchen counter

Sardines are like little treasures from the sea, hiding in their tin homes, just waiting to surprise your taste buds with their deliciousness and nutrients. But if you're on a keto journey, you might wonder: Are sardines keto-friendly?

The good news is that they do fit the ketogenic diet. But you'll have to delve a little deeper to find out just how well Sardines fit into it.

Explore the carbohydrate content in sardines and uncover nutritional benefits. Who knows, sardines might just become your new keto buddies. Dive in!


  • Yes, Sardines are definitely keto-friendly due to their low carbohydrate content.
  • Sardines offer a wealth of protein, heart-healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals beneficial for your body.
  • Despite their high sodium content, Sardines can be creatively incorporated into keto meals.

Are Sardines Keto-Friendly?

Yes, Sardines are keto-friendly. The reason is their nutritional composition: Sardines have a minimal 0.44g of net carbs per 100g. This low carb count fits well within the typical daily carb intake limit for the ketogenic diet, which usually ranges from 20g to 50g.

Can You Have Sardines on a Strict Keto Diet?

Yes, Sardines can indeed be incorporated into a strict keto diet. Remember, a strict keto diet typically limits carb intake to less than 20g daily.

Given that Sardines only contain 0.44g of net carbs per 100g, it comfortably fits into this low-carb threshold.

Carbs In Sardines

Sardines contain a minimal amount of carbs, with only 0.44g per 100g. It's also noteworthy that Sardines have a low glycemic index of 0 [source].

This index indicates how quickly a food can raise blood sugar levels, with low being desirable for a keto diet. Foods with a lower GI digest slowly, leading to a steady rise in blood sugar levels, whereas foods with a high GI are quickly digested, causing a rapid spike.

Sardines Nutrition Facts

These small fish are nutrient-dense, offering a mix of macro and micronutrients. For a 100-g serving, sardines contain 24.6g of protein, which is essential for muscle development and recovery. They have 11.5g of fat—largely healthy fats—including 1.5g of Omega-3 fatty acids that support heart health.

Regarding micronutrients, a serving of sardines is rich in vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B12 is present in high quantities, contributing to nerve function and the production of DNA. There's also a substantial amount of Vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption for bone health. Minerals such as calcium, selenium, and iron are present too.

Nutrient NameAmount and Unit per 100 g
Net Carbs0.44g
Total lipid (fat)10.45g
Carbohydrate, by difference0.54g
Fiber, total dietary0.1g
Total Sugars0.43g
Calcium, Ca240.0mg
Iron, Fe2.3mg
Magnesium, Mg34.0mg
Phosphorus, P366.0mg
Potassium, K341.0mg
Sodium, Na414.0mg
Zinc, Zn1.4mg
Copper, Cu0.272mg
Selenium, Se40.6µg
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid1.0mg
Vitamin B-60.123mg
Folate, total24.0µg
Folate, food24.0µg
Folate, DFE24.0µg
Choline, total76.0mg
Vitamin B-129.0µg
Vitamin A, RAE34.0µg
Carotene, beta26.0µg
Lutein + zeaxanthin2.0µg
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)1.38mg
Vitamin D (D2 + D3)4.8µg
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)0.4µg
Fatty acids, total saturated2.684g
SFA 14:00.702g
SFA 16:01.738g
SFA 18:00.244g
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated4.818g
MUFA 16:10.633g
MUFA 18:11.85g
MUFA 20:10.71g
MUFA 22:11.624g
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated2.111g
PUFA 18:20.123g
PUFA 18:30.235g
PUFA 20:40.297g
PUFA 20:5 n-3 (EPA)0.532g
PUFA 22:5 n-3 (DPA)0.061g
PUFA 22:6 n-3 (DHA)0.864g

Nutritional data is sourced from the US Department of Agriculture's FoodData Central system. Please see Cast Iron Keto's editorial and research standards for more information.

Health Implications of Sardines on a Keto Diet

Sardines are not only low in carbs but also packed with beneficial nutrients. They are an excellent source of protein, offering 20.86g per 100g, and rich in heart-healthy fats. Sardines are also a potent source of essential minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc, along with vitamins such as Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin D.

Incorporating Sardines into Your Keto Meal Plan

  1. Sardines can be a versatile addition to a keto-friendly meal plan. They can be enjoyed straight from the can, added to salads for a protein boost, or even used as a pizza topping on a low-carb pizza crust.
  2. There are numerous keto-friendly recipes that incorporate Sardines. For instance, a Sardine and avocado salad can be a nutrient-dense and satisfying meal. Similarly, a low-carb Sardine casserole can be a comforting dinner option.
  3. While Sardines can fit comfortably into a keto diet, it's still important to watch portion sizes and count carbs. Even though Sardines are low in carbs, other ingredients in a meal can add up, potentially pushing you over your daily carb limit.

Keto-Compatible Alternatives for Sardines

  1. Tuna: Just like Sardines, Tuna is another fish that is rich in protein and low in carbs, making it a good alternative for a keto diet. Tuna can be used similar to Sardines in salads, casseroles, or eaten straight from the can.
  2. Salmon: Salmon is a fatty fish and a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. It's also a good alternative to Sardines on a keto diet. Grilled or baked Salmon can be served with a side of low-carb vegetables for a hearty keto meal.
  3. Chicken Breast: If you're not a fan of seafood, skinless chicken breast is a versatile alternative to Sardines. It's high in protein and virtually carb-free. Chicken can be grilled, baked, or incorporated into a tasty keto stir-fry.

Concluding Thoughts on Sardines and Keto

Sardines have been highlighted as a truly keto-friendly food option. Due to their low carbohydrate content, they fit comfortably into both strict and moderated keto dietary plans. Their rich nutritional profile also offers a wealth of protein, heart-healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals.

Despite their high sodium content, which requires a mindful approach for some individuals, Sardines can be incorporated into your keto diet in various creative ways, from salad additions to low-carb casseroles.

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Cast Iron Keto's Editorial and Research Standards

Certain rare or exotic food items may not have nutritional profiles in the FoodData Central database. If an exact match is not found in the FoodData Central database, then, the Cast Iron Keto team utilizes a three-prong approach to provide readers with the closest relevant nutritional data, where possible.

First, in the event that nutritional profiles for a rare or exotic food item is not available in the FoodData Central database, we investigate alternative names for that particular food item and use that data, when possible. Second, in cases where no alternate names exist, Cast Iron Keto will use nutritional data for a close relative or similar food item. Finally, if no close relatives or similar items exist, we refrain from publishing nutrient data tables.

When making dietary or health decisions based on FoodData Central's data, we suggest readers consult with a nutritionist or other health experts, particularly if the food in question has a significant role in your diet or if you are using the food item to treat any health disorder(s).

Furthermore, it is important to note that even if a close relative or similar item is used to approximate the nutritional data, different food items can have varying levels of nutrients due to factors such as soil quality, farming practices, and regional differences.


The information on this website is only intended to be general summary information for public use, designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. This information does not replace written law or regulations, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have questions about a medical condition or are seeking to evaluate the health merits of certain food items for the treatment of any medical condition, you should seek the advice of a doctor or other qualified health professionals.

The views expressed at, or through, Cast Iron Keto are for informational purposes only. Cast Iron Keto cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. While we use reasonable efforts to include accurate and up-to-date information, we make no warranties as to the accuracy of the content and assume no liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content. All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this website are hereby expressly disclaimed. The content on this posting is provided "as is;" no representations are made that the content is error-free.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sardines are very low in carbs. With a typical serving containing less than 1 gram of carbs, they are an excellent choice for a ketogenic diet.

Yes, fresh and canned Sardines can be eaten on a keto diet. However, remember to check the label of canned variants for added sugars or preservatives.

Yes, but it's essential to maintain a varied diet for overall health. Be mindful of the sodium content in Sardines and adjust other food sources accordingly.

Yes, smoked Sardines are also keto-friendly as they're low in carbs. However, they may have a higher sodium content than the fresh or canned variety.