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Omega 3 Rich Fish Beyond Salmon – Here’s To The Small Guys

By Elaine Guinan on October 19, 2017

We all know that oily fish are loaded with healthy omega 3 fats, but that’s not all they have to offer. While we typically think of salmon as the oily fish of choice, other options include herrings, sardines, anchovies, mackerel, blue fish and pilchards. Oily fish are one of the few naturally occurring sources of dietary vitamin D, and are also a good source of protein, iodine, B vitamins, and selenium, and oily fish with edible bones, such as sardines, are a great source of calcium.

Historically the small fishes like herring, sardines and anchovies were dietary staples, and salmon was the food of kings. These days, the roles have reversed. Salmon is farmed and has become a staple, while the other fishes have fallen in popularity, and except for afficionados, are disappearing from our tables. This is particularly here in the US, though the Baltic and Scandinavian countries still savor herring, and sardines and anchovies are still enjoyed all around the Mediterranean.

For a good diet and our health overall, we should be eating more of these these little guys. They are among the most nutritious fish we can eat. And because they are small and lower down the marine food chain, they have less mercury and other contaminants than large fish like tuna. Yet they have all the downsides of fish eating attached to them: small bones, strong flavors, lingering cooking smells, and the fact that for many of us eating a small fish whole, head and all, is maybe a little too real. So since we have salmon well covered on the site, I’m going to talk here about ways to cook, and eat these deliciously healthy fish:


Atlantic herring  are a food staple all over Northern Europe.


These fish need to be eaten very fresh. Their skin should be vividly and iridescently colored and their markings clear. If they look at all dull, don’t buy them. When I lived in France, one of my favorite starters was mackerel poached in white wine, but the easiest way to enjoy them is simply broiled, as in this Blue fish recipe,  which can be interchangeable for mackerel.



Love them or hate them, they are really good for you! The Mediterranean countries use them as condiments. They are chopped into a paste with oil and garlic and used instead of salt to flavor vegetables and pastas. Anchovy based sauces like bagna cauda, make a fabulous dips for veggies. And of course the fillets find their tangy way onto pizzas and salads all over. They come several ways:

We hope this info helps you. We recommend using the Seafood Watch app to help you to buy and eat the most sustainable among them.




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