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Somewhere along the way, sardines picked up a bit of a bad name. Maybe it’s because they come in a can filled with oil, or maybe it’s that they’re small and from the sea and therefore classified in some minds as “icky,” or maybe it’s that they’re often eaten whole, bones and all.

But when you rid yourself of the preconceived notions and look at these little, oily fish (that’s all sardines are, small, oily fish of a number of species) through an objective lens, you’ll notice that there’s a lot of value packed into that little can. And, in fact, if you stack sardines up against its closest canned fish rival, tuna, you might be surprised to learn that in many regards, sardines takes the cake. (Note: please do not make a sardine cake.)

So, if you like health, the ocean, money and good food, consider giving the little edible underwater creatures another chance. Here’s why:

Sardines actually have a similar taste and texture to canned tuna

And because of that, they make an equally delicious topping for open-faced sandwiches. They may be slightly saltier, so be prepared to alter your tuna salad recipe to suit your palate. Cherry tomatoes, cucumber, lime, fresh bread… voila.

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Buy skinless, boneless sardines because they taste way better

Also, if texture is a concern, you can avoid the extra (and sometimes unwanted) crunch by opting for sardines that’ve been deboned.

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There’s simply WAY more of them than tuna

The thing is, humans have been absolutely devouring certain types of fish for too long. In recent years, popular predator fish like tuna, grouper and cod have seen a major decline in recent years, leaving room down the food chain for “forage fish” like herring and sardines to flourish. So, by eating sardines and not tuna, you’re helping balance the ocean’s scales, so to speak.

There’s also the mercury thing

Sardines are lower in mercury than tuna. So, you can eat ’em more frequently without worrying about poisoning your insides.

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Sardines are delicious at all meals, including breakfast

Yes, the make an excellent after work or post-gym snack–they pack about 25g of protein per 100g–but they can also be easily added into an early morning egg dish for an extra protein boost.

They’re also perfect on pizza

The most salty topping you didn’t know you were missing.

Plus, they can substitute for any white fish you’d normally use in fishcakes

Replace the cod or haddock fillets in your favourite fish cake recipe for some canned sardines (again, boneless and skinless, is preferred) and feel better about your contribution to the potluck. Plus, they’re a budget-friendly option.