Open faced toasts topped with Patagonia Provisions anchovies, herbs, and olives

The Nutritional Benefits of Anchovies

Smørrebrød with Lemon Olive Spanish White Anchovies. Photo by Amy Kumler

These tiny fish have some very big health benefits: Rich in protein, omega-3s, and iron, canned anchovies are as packed with nutrition as they are with flavor. Here are the nutrition facts behind them.

Two young friends in swimsuits share Patagonia Provisions Mackerel from a tin on a beach
Spanish White Anchovies are packed with nutrition—and so mild even kids snap ‘em up. Main Salmon River, Idaho.  Photo by Woods Wheatcroft

Are Anchovies Good for You?

Anchovies and Omega-3s—Good for Your Heart

Anchovies are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat that supports heart health and lowers your risk of cardiac disease (the American Heart Association recommends two servings of fatty fish per week). There’s also growing evidence that DHA, one of several types of omega-3s, plays an important role in brain health. Most experts agree that food, not supplements, is the healthiest way to absorb omega-3s; a 100-gram serving of anchovies contains 1.64 g of these fatty acids.

Patagonia Provisions Anchovies with olives, olive oil, and bread on a white ceramic plate
Lemon Olive Spanish White Anchovies straight from the can, with a crusty baguette for sopping up the juices. Photo by Amy Kumler

Anchovies Nutrition Data: Protein, Iron and more

While anchovies are widely lauded for their omega-3 benefits, they’re a calorie-efficient source of other nutrients too, including protein, which provides energy and supports muscles and bones, and vitamin B-12, which keeps blood cells healthy. According to the USDA, a 100-gram serving of anchovies contains:

20.4 g protein
3.25 mg iron
0 mg carbohydrates
383 mg potassium
147 mg calcium
.62 μg B-12
14 mg niacin
1.72 mg zinc
36.5 mg selenium

An adult opens a can of Patagonia Provisions Anchovies for a child on a beach
Try it—you’ll like it! Mother, child, and mild Spanish White Anchovies. Santa Barbara, CA.  Photo by Tim Davis

Are Canned Anchovies Good for You?

Yes, anchovies that have been preserved through canning retain all the health benefits of fresh anchovies, including those vital omega-3 fatty acids. Because most canned anchovies are salted and highly flavorful, the recommended serving size is small; be sure they don’t tip the scales of the daily recommended sodium intake (2400 mg per day, and less if you have high blood pressure). Not all canned anchovies are created equal in terms of flavor, however.

Typical Canned Anchovies

You may know canned anchovies best as pizza toppings—the gray-brown slivers that taste like little salt bombs. These anchovies are fileted, salt-cured, and stored in olive oil (it’s the curing process that gives them their saltiness).

Salt-packed Anchovies

Salt-packed anchovies represent another, less-common group. These are anchovies that have been canned fresh (with bones intact) and seasoned only with salt. To eat them, it’s best to rinse and soak them in water.

White Anchovies

Unlike the anchovies that you’ll find on pizza or a typical grocery store aisle, our white anchovies from Spain have a milder flavor, delicate texture, and are packed fresh in olive oil and regional seasonings for a more nuanced flavor and less sodium.

Are Anchovies Good for Diabetics?

Anchovies are a great option for diabetics, as their omega-3 fatty acids in the fish can help reduce insulin resistance. Also, because they contain zero carbohydrates, anchovies don’t elicit an insulin release.


Note: The suggestions here have been reviewed by a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). However, they should be used for general educational purposes only and not interpreted as customized medical advice or care. Always seek the guidance of a doctor or other qualified health provider to figure out what’s best for you.