You Should Be Eating More Canned Anchovies. Here's Why

While the accidental presence of anchovies on your pizza might be irksome, the tiny fish has numerous benefits and deserves a chance. Though it might not yet be a staple in your kitchen, the fish is native to the Mediterranean and Black Seas and is regularly found in the local recipes there, according to The Spruce Eats. Anchovies live in saltwater, and the current anchovy industry is especially concentrated in the Peruvian fishery. The fish remain wild and manage to avoid many negative outcomes of unsustainable farmed fish (via Organic Facts).

Although their flavor might be overwhelming when the whole filets are added at the end of cooking, they can be subtly introduced into recipes to enhance umami. The Spruce Eats points out that many sauces and condiments include anchovies in their ingredients — for example, Worcestershire sauce, and a classic Caesar salad dressing. 

While fresh anchovies can be prepared in their own specific way, canned anchovies are precooked and preserved in oil so you can use them directly from the can. Serious Eats advises that canned versions come packed with salt, so be sure to adjust your recipes accordingly to avoid excess sodium. If you're not quite ready to eat them by the forkful straight from the can, start by incorporating them into pasta or pizza sauce for extra depth. Allow them to dissolve in sauce, butter, or oil for added flavor. Anchovy paste can also be used for this purpose.

What nutrients do they contain?

Besides jazzing up the flavor, Delish tells us that anchovies also provide an instant boost in omega-3 fatty acids. The site notes that using canned anchovies as a source for the fat is certainly more budget-friendly than only getting your omega-3s from fresh fish. Livestrong describes the various health benefits of omega-3s, such as improved cell metabolism, cognitive health, vision, cardiovascular function, and decreased inflammation. On top of that, Organic Facts points out that omega-3 fatty acids also benefit skin health.

Besides their high omega-3 content, anchovies are a low-calorie source of protein, with 17 grams and 111 calories in a three-ounce serving (via USDA). This makes them a good option to include in a balanced diet to promote weight loss. Organic Facts also praises their contribution to bone health, thanks to their calcium and vitamin A content.

The nutrients don't stop there. Livestrong reports that anchovies are high in selenium, niacin, vitamin B12, and iron, all essential to your body and brain function. That's quite the endorsement for tiny fish that are sold in a can.