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Health food of the month - Anchovy

September 2013

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Diet & Supplements Index

Health Food of The Month: AnchoviesThe mighty little anchovy

They are a bit like Marmite! You either love anchovies or can’t stand them. But for people who love them, the key is the fabulous strong flavour which can enhance anything from pizzas and salads to pasta dishes and even sauces. Anchovy paste on toast is a top favourite among some.

But are they good for you? They can taste very salty which indicates they might not be a healthy food at all.

In fact anchovies are not only packed with fabulous flavours, but they also contain some key nutrients. They are categorised as an “oily fish” and eating one or two 3-ounce servings a week of oily fish can help protect you against heart disease. Admittedly anchovies are small, and only contain around 0.3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids in around 20 grams or around five fillets of fresh anchovies, but nevertheless the benefits are there.

The same amount of anchovies also provide a contribution to the required recommended daily intakes of magnesium, calcium and phosphorous, useful for the growth and maintening strong bones.

Interestingly, around five anchovy fillets also provide 19 per cent of the amount of niacin you need every day, 4 per cent of vitamin B12 and 2 per cent of vitamin B6. Anchovies are also a very rich source of iron.

Yes, they are small and the nutrition they offer isn’t life sustaining; but that said without doubt they offer far more than just a great taste.

However, you do need to watch how you buy them. Fresh anchovies are now usually available at good supermarkets, but generally anchovies are bought in cans or jars which mean they can be very high in sodium. The anchovies have probably been preserved in salt and then packed in oil or more salt. While 20 grams of fresh anchovy fillets will have around 21 milligrams of sodium, a jar or can of anchovies can contain more than 700 milligrams of sodium. You can remove some of the excess salt by rinsing the fillets in cold water before use.



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