Health benefits of anchovies include healthy heart, skin care, weight loss, as well as healthy bones and teeth. These benefits are due to omega-3-fatty acids, proteins, and various nutrients present in them. Intake of anchovies also lowers the levels of bad cholesterol and toxins.
What Are Anchovies?
Anchovies are small, salt water, foraging fish with more than 100 different species spread across the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. They are generally found in large schools, which makes them very easy to catch in large quantities. One of the most popular places to catch anchovies is the Mediterranean Sea, which is why they are such a large part of European, Middle Eastern, and North African cuisines.
Even though their taste is not pleasant people eat them due to their various health benefits. They are normally sold in tins or cans and can be put on pizzas, sandwiches, in Caesar salad dressing, and tomato sauce.
Anchovies are rich in omega-3-fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals that help maintain good health. They contain calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc. Anchovies are a good source of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin C, B12, B6, A, E, and K. These oily fish also contain good fats and cholesterol.
Health Benefits of Anchovies
Anchovies have many amazing health benefits, let us discuss them in detail below.
Improve Heart Health
High In Omega-3-Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acid, found in large quantities in anchovies, eliminates unhealthy cholesterol. It improves heart and brain health, promotes weight loss, boosts eye health, and enhances fetal development.
Adding anchovies as a regular part of your diet can help maintain a smooth complexion as well as prevent breakouts and wrinkles associated with premature aging. They can also help protect against sunburn, thereby lowering the risk of skin cancer.
Anchovies have significant amounts of protein and a low-calorie count, which makes them ideal for people trying to lose weight. Increased levels of protein help you feel satiated, which, in turn, prevents overeating. Additionally, it suppresses the production of ghrelin (the hunger hormone). Thus, the fish provide you with ample nutrition and health benefits, without pouring in any extra calories!
Improve Bone Health
The vitamins and minerals found in anchovies provide many health benefits, including helping to build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis and other bone conditions. The calcium and vitamin A, found in anchovies positively affect bone growth, which makes these tiny fish quite beneficial in fighting bone degradation. Calcium is also integral in the protection of teeth from weakening and keeping them strong.
Tissue and Cell Repair
Protein-rich anchovies have long been known to benefit the functioning and efficiency of cell metabolism and connective tissue repair and regrowth. High protein foods also help promote weight loss, maintain blood sugar levels, as well as build bones, muscles, cartilage, and tissues. Overall, they can be a major boost to your body’s ability to heal itself.
Anchovies are rich in vitamin-A, which boosts eye health. It prevents macular degeneration, as well as cataracts, so eat some anchovies and protect your eyes!
Rich In Iron
Anchovies rich in iron enhances oxygen supply and increases the blood circulation in the body.
Good Source Of Selenium
Rich In Niacin & Vitamin B12
The ample amount of vitamin B12 and niacin present in anchovies help maintain a healthy nervous system function. These vitamins also help prevent depression, fatigue, confusion, nerve damage and the weak sense of touch.
Other benefits of anchovies include:
Unlike salmon, tilapia, and catfish, anchovies are not farm-raised. Anchovies are directly caught in the wild, which keeps them away from the dangerous chemicals exposed to other farm fishes. This, in turn, makes anchovies highly sustainable.
Omega-3 fatty acids in anchovies possess potent anti-inflammatory properties, which prevent various chronic inflammatory diseases.
Anchovies, a rich source of potassium, help in better skeletal muscle contraction and digestion.
One of the major dangers of eating too much fish is the high level of mercury and other environmental toxins that can often be found in their bodies. Smaller fish have far fewer toxins, particularly due to their short lifespan, and therefore add far fewer toxins to your body than larger fish, while still providing many of the same nutritional benefits!
Select and Store
Here are a few tips to remember while buying and storing anchovies:
- Anchovies are available in fresh, tinned or canned, salted, oiled, and paste forms.
- Always select fresh anchovies over preserved ones. Although, salt-preserved or canned anchovies are easily available.
- Use the entire anchovies after opening the sealed container.
- In case you don’t intend to use the entire container, wash off the salt, place it in an olive oil jar, seal and refrigerate again. The fish can now last for 5 days.
Note: Anchovy paste has less flavor and nutrients compared to the fresh and processed ones but can be used in sauces, jams, pickles, spreads, and more.
How to use anchovies?
Here are a few ways to use this fish:
- Anchovies can be eaten raw as an aphrodisiac. However, raw anchovies may cause parasitic infections.
- Freeze or cook your anchovies before eating them.
- They are used in Asian sides and dishes like Javanese sambal, Vietnamese nuac mom, and Thai nam pla.
- They can be used to make sauces, jams, pickles, and spreads, as well as be added to noodles, soups, curries, etc.
- Anchovies can also be grilled, steamed, fried, and fermented to prepare various dishes.
The side effects of anchovies are as follows:
- Anisakiasis: This herring worm disease, is a parasitic infection caused by raw anchovies. The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal cramps.
- High blood pressure: Canned anchovies have a high level of sodium and excess intake may elevate blood pressure causing heart attack, or stroke.
- Neurotoxin: Domoic acid which gets accumulated in the gut of anchovies is a dangerous neurotoxin. Thus, intake of whole anchovies may cause amnesic shellfish poisoning.