But something in me changed...
So how did they taste?
Honestly, not fishy at all, which really exceeded my expectations. It might be the brand that I received, but it tasted like a much milder version of canned tuna. It was pretty salty though.
What's the deal with anchovies vs. sardines? What about mackerel?
The two fish are actually from completely different families. Sardines are part of the Clupeidae family, named after the Italian island of Sardinia where they are plentiful! There are about 18 different species classified as sardines. Anchovies are part of the Engraulidae family. They are also found in the Mediterranean, as well as in Northern Europe near Scandinavia. It is estimated that there are more than 140 species of anchovies! Besides being from completely different families, sardines are also larger and have a whiter flesh. Sardines are known to have a milder, less fishy taste, but I truly believe that it depends on the species of anchovy you try as well.
Mackerel is a larger, oily fish similar to tuna, but has significantly lower levels of mercury and is less susceptible to overfishing. Mackerel is extremely high in omega-3s, with a three-ounce serving providing about 1500 milligrams (recommended minimum is 500 mg/day). Further, wild mackerel is high in other micronutrients, including Vitamin K, B-12, CoQ10, and selenium.
What are the nutritional benefits of anchovies?
- Extremely High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: One can of anchovies provides 800 mg combined EPA and DHA in a 160-calorie serving. Although there is no official guideline of how many milligrams of EPA/DHA to consume each day, most experts agree that a minimum of 500 mg is optimal. Consuming a diet rich in omega-3s is linked to an improvement in cardiovascular health (decreased risk of heart attacks, sudden death, and coronary artery disease), improved symptoms of depression and anxiety, and a reduced risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancers (1, 2). BONUS!! There was an article just posted about a new study showing the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 for asthma patients. Even more reason to add these small fish to your diet.
- Calcium-rich Protein Source: help maintain your bone health by adding anchovies to your diet. For individuals on a dairy-free diet, anchovies offer a great alternative, with 20% of your daily value in a single serving!
- Smaller Fish = Decreased Mercury Load: with the increasing pollution of our oceans today, I am a huge advocate of consuming smaller fish. First of all, these fish are in greater abundance and won't contribute to the overfishing problem as heavily as say consuming tuna, halibut, or sea bass regularly. Because these fish are so small, they feed on plankton. Larger fish, such as tuna and swordfish, are known for their higher mercury levels because they are in the ocean for much longer and are eating other fish which have consumed smaller fish (building up the mercury levels).
- Niacin (Vitamin B-3): One serving contains up to 20% of your daily value. This vitamin is known to improve cholesterol levels and decrease cardiovascular risk (2).
- High in Selenium: Unfortunately, our ancestors used to receive adequate amount of selenium from vegetables and crops that grew in soil-rich areas. With the depletion of minerals in our soil, however, it has been hard for many individuals to maintain healthy levels. Selenium is critical for thyroid health by helping to metabolize thyroid hormones and acting as an antioxidant (3). In addition to consuming brazil nuts, anchovies are also a great source of this mineral!
- Decent Source of Iron: as someone who struggles to consume enough iron in my diet (I don't eat meat except for seafood occasionally) and has dealt with anemia in the past, it is really important for me to ensure I am getting enough iron in my diet each day. One serving of anchovies offers about 8% of the daily value. Iron is another critical mineral that makes up hemoglobin in red blood cells. Without adequate intake, an individual can struggle with fatigue, weakness, and poor circulation (4).
With a price tag of $2.50, it's hard to beat anchovies as a rich source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein, calcium, and iron!
Ok, ok, I understand -- but how do I make them taste good?!
I followed this super easy recipe I found online (originally for sardines) and made a few tweaks of my own.
- 1 can Wild Planet White Anchovies
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 red chili pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 1 lemon, zest and juice (I used a peeler to zest the outside of the lemon and then chopped the pieces up to be smaller)
- 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 2 slices Julian Bakery paleo, gluten-free seed bread
- Slightly open the can of anchovies and drain the olive oil into a small skillet on medium-heat.
- Add the garlic and chili peppers and cook for 2 min, stirring frequently.
- Add the lemon zest and juice of one lemon. Cook for 2 min.
- Add the anchovies and turn to high heat, "frying" on one side for a minute. (you can flip to the other side if you'd like, but since they're so small I didn't bother)
- Then add the chopped parsley into the mixture and reduce to low-heat.
- Toast your two pieces of bread. Use a fork to transfer the mixture onto the pieces of bread. Voila! Enjoy this tasty recipe.
Stay tuned for my post next week on my healing gut smoothie -- a nutrient-dense and flavorful recipe for busy mornings!