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3 Good Sources of Omega 3s

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/29/2012 2:00 PM   :  24 comments   :  10,165 Views

You probably already know that salmon and other fatty fish are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, those fats that boost brain and heart health while helping lower bad cholesterol.
 
Did you know that there are several other super sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, and they're easy to prepare! All you need to do is open the can and start cooking.
What are these fish? Anchovies, sardines, and mackerel. Don't wrinkly your nose! Keep reading to find out how to prep these fishy little fish and reap their health benefits.
 

So why are these fish not as popular as the "chicken of the sea"?  The nose knows.  People are often put off with their strong fishy smell and the soft bones (a good source of calcium!). 
 
Use their strong flavor to your advantage--a little goes a long way. Use them as a way to infuse a dish with the essence of the ocean. Italians use anchovies in pasta sauces and on pizzas; the Koreans add mackerel to hearty soups and stews; and the Spanish serve sardines as tapas. All use the fish in moderation and use their unique flavor to the dish's advantage. Cooking the fish also mellows its flavor a bit.
 
Anchovies
Of the three, these are my favorite.  You can purchase anchovies as filets in a can or as a paste. 

If you're new to anchovies, choose the paste, which comes in a tube. Just squeeze some into a dish, and that's it. The paste will store in the fridge with no mess.
 
I love to use the salty, umami-rich paste in Caesar salad dressing, marinades for beef, and soups.  
 
The filets are amazing on a pizza with grilled asparagus, mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese.
 
If you haven't tried the white anchovies, make sure you add them to your new list.  Common in Spanish tapas cuisine, they are milder and sweeter--ideal for marinating in a vinaigrette or adding to a salad. 
 
NOTE: When using the canned variety, run your fingers over the filets to look for any bones.  Don't worry if you miss one or two, the bones are so soft you can actually chew them, unlike the large pin bones found in salmon.
 
If you're worried about sodium intake, rinse anchovies before using, and remember that you likely won't need any additional salt if you include anchovies in a dish.

Ease into anchovies with my Baked Anchovy and Grape Crostini. The sweet grapes and creamy cheese balance out the anchovies.

Get more anchovy recipes here and here!

Sardines
Sardines are named after the place where they're canned, the Italian island of Sardinia. They're actually part of the herring family and can be used interchangeable. They're soft-boned so you can eat the bones--try mashing up a tin of sardines into your usual tuna salad recipe!
 
Sardines are usually packed in olive or soybean oil, so rinse off the excess oil and pat dry before eating.  When choosing origin select the Pacific caught.
 
Select one of these sardine recipes.
 
Mackerel
Mackerel is the biggest and darkest of the three fishy fish.  It's also the least "fishy" in taste with leaner, lighter tasting meat. The Spanish region choice along with the Atlantic and King varieties are your best bet for sustainable species.  Just like with sardines, rinse away the excess oil if you buy them canned.   Citrus and flavored vinegars love to mingle with mackerel.  Try a tossed salad with flaked mackerel, orange zest and segments and toss with a red wine vinaigrette.
 
Make mackerel tonight!
 
I hope that you'll give these three fishy fish a try--not only will you enjoy the taste, but you'll get a boost of Omega-3s as well!
 
How do you prefer to eat these fish?

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Comments

  • 24
    I love, love LOVE smoked sprats! Especially since my family is from Latvia. Riga Sprats are widely available in the US. Not sure if sprats have the same amount of Omega-3s, although they probably do, since they live in cold waters. I just open the can, and "mush" them onto bread. - 6/8/2012   9:32:50 PM
  • 23
    I cannot stand fish except for the most mild ones (I can handle Orange Roughy, Haddock, some cod). I am in a bad spot where Omega-3s are concerned because the supplements are terrible on my digestive system and even give symptoms of a heart attack. - 5/31/2012   10:19:45 PM
  • 22
    I bought some Tropicana Orange Juice that had Omega-3's. My husband and I each drank a full glass (it was delicious) and then i noticed anchovies and sardines in the ingredients! Needless to say we after reading that we could not drink anymore! My four year old did though. - 5/31/2012   3:57:52 PM
  • 21
    I hate fish with a passion. Especially the three mentioned in the blog. I will eat white fish, but get my Omega 3's from flaxseed. Fish just makes me gag, and if you cannot get it past your nose, how on earth do you expect to be able to eat it. - 5/31/2012   2:42:24 PM
  • 20
    I used to put anchovies on my slice of boring pizza to add some flavor, now that I watch my salt, I have sadly removed anchovies from my menus. There are several brands of sardines that are no salt added and packed in spring water. I can add my own mustard on crackers and enjoy a satifying meal. By the way, most Caesar salad dressings have anchovies. - 5/30/2012   11:57:27 PM
  • 19
    I craved sardines on saltines when I was pregnant. I don't think I've had them since then and its been over 15 years! Will have to give them a try again. I enjoy anchovies on pizza and in ceasar salad and certain pasta recipes. However, I've never tried mackerel. After reading this, I'd like to give it a try. It's interesting to see how many do eat these from the poll responses. - 5/30/2012   8:22:54 PM
  • 18
    I'm not a huge fish fan, but I try to have at least a couple of meals each week. I was really disappointed to read that tinned tuna does *not* have much in the way of the benefits in tinned salmon!
    However, I did buy some tins of sardines recently - mashed with seasonings should be a good sandwich filling for both DH and me.
    I used to use tinned mackerel same as tinned herring, but I went right off the mackerel. I still enjoy herring in sauce etc (especially from Lidl).
    Anchovies - I've nevervtried, but I understand from various TV chefs that canned anchovies are brilliant as a seasoning, and that they melt during cooking!? And I still haven't tried them!!! - 5/30/2012   4:17:25 PM
  • 17
    I agree with RENEETC1. I love sardines with crackers. I'll have anchovies when eating out on a caesar salad, bit have never purchased them for home. Don't think I've ever tried Mackeral, but I will now.

    Thank you. I take fish oil every day with my vitamins, but you've inspired me to try to get more of the omega 3's from food. - 5/30/2012   2:50:56 PM
  • 16
    Love Kippers (sardines)! I keep cans in the pantry for a quick lunch. They're great with crackers. Have to look at anchovies again and I don't remember if I've had mackerel. Of course, I love seafood. Born in Louisiana and live in south Mississippi. - 5/30/2012   10:43:30 AM
  • 15
    I try to eat these once a week. I avoid the ones that are canned in soy oil. Ones packed in olive oil are healthier. We used to get mackerel canned in tomato sauce mixed with mayonnaise & a squeeze of lemon on dark rye bread as kids in Denmark. - 5/30/2012   9:53:05 AM
  • GMAGEE
    14
    Have loved sardines all my life. Have some in the cupboard even now. Never liked anchovies; too salty. But I will look for the white ones to try. Of all the fish I've eaten, I don't think I've ever had mackerel, but I'm going to look for some at the fishmonger's.

    Thanks for the info! - 5/30/2012   9:05:36 AM
  • 13
    All of these fish are completely revolting tasting. N-A-S-T-Y. YUCK.

    Especially sardines. UGH.

    Give me fish oil supplements, walnuts, or other sources of omega 3s any day. - 5/30/2012   8:53:15 AM
  • 12
    I grew up eating sardines on saltines. They were a tasty that way but I never really think about them now. - 5/30/2012   8:37:30 AM
  • 11
    Will try the mackerel, love the sardines! - 5/30/2012   6:47:57 AM
  • 10
    Also pilchards (which I think are larger sardines).
    I love sardines and they are one of my favourite sandwich fillings. I was brought up with eating these types of fish, and pilchard sandwiches were one of only two choices on our school holiday trips to Whitstable for 2 weeks, so you had to love them. They definitely help with depression and this is another reason why I regularly eat them (I discovered this for myself before reading about it). I prefer the mackerel in the shrink wrap which is smoked and with crushed black peppercorns. Yum.!! Love sardines in oil but here in England you can buy them in tomato, springwater and brine, so I pick one of these healthier options. - 5/30/2012   5:28:48 AM
  • 9
    Mackeral, yeah. Sardines, rarely. Anchovies? NO thanks! - 5/30/2012   3:51:57 AM
  • 1GNPARKER
    8
    I've never liked anchovies, probably because they are so salty. Sardines I used to eat years ago but I think I over-did it because now I can't stand the smell. My husband is the only one who eats them now. That leaves the mackerel for me lol. - 5/30/2012   12:46:06 AM
  • 7
    Need to add more of these items in my nutrition program. - 5/29/2012   11:56:42 PM
  • 6
    Love fish!! Yum mm! - 5/29/2012   11:16:37 PM
  • 5
    Never tried anchovies. No opinion of them one way or the other. I like sardines but I usually only eat them at home for the reasons listed in the article!! I haven't tried mackerel either. Being Catholic and English I am probably genetically predisposed to liking fish. I am not sure I like ALL fish however. I am curious as to hy you state you cannot eat salmon bones I always have. And I have to rinse down the residue in the sink or I risk getting a thick ear from someone who does not like fish!! - 5/29/2012   9:20:38 PM
  • 4
    I like fish. - 5/29/2012   9:12:02 PM
  • LORTHOM2001
    3
    the entire world has been eating these three types of fish forever...except north america. the assumption that poorer parts of the world should be the only parts to consume canned sardines, ancovies and mackerel is another thing that stops consumption of these items. but the nutrient value is so high that we better sharpen up and eat these nutrient-rich things. from the middle east to far asia to te tropics of the caribbean and onto south america, everyone -- everywhere -- eats these things - 5/29/2012   3:55:13 PM
  • 2
    Love anchovies in my salads! Usually don't have to use any other seasoning after that! - 5/29/2012   2:25:42 PM
  • 1
    They are good .You can put anchovy in salad dressing pasta sauce - 5/29/2012   2:16:26 PM

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