Why the humble anchovy is an underrated star of the Mediterranean diet


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Photo: Getty Images/Debbi Smirnoff

When you’re with a bunch of people trying to agree on a pizza order, no one wants to be the person who suggests anchovies as a topping. The stigma against anchovies is so great that it’s even worse than requesting pineapple. It’s a shame really. According to celebrity chef and restaurateur Seamus Mullen (who overhauled his diet to help treat his rheumatoid arthritis) and Columbia University-based psychiatrist (and farmer) Drew Ramsey, MD, anchovies are seriously underrated.

At a Well+Good Cookbook event Tuesday night, hosted by Moet Hennessy, Well+Good co-founder Melisse Gelula asked the panel (Mullen and Dr. Ramsey, included) to choose just one food to eat if stranded on a desert island. Mullen picked the humble anchovy. “Not only are anchovies a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, because they’re so small, they’re lower in mercury than bigger fish,” he said.

Dr. Ramsey was totally on board with Mullen’s choice. “As a psychiatrist, fish is one of the big foods I recommend people eat for brain health,” he said, “but many clients are worried it will be too expensive. Cans of anchovies are really inexpensive.”

Considering that all fish is compliant with the old-yet-trendy eating plan known as the Mediterranean diet, it’s a little unfortunate the anchovies have been overshadowed. As Mullen points out, you still get the omega-3s (the major reason why doctors and dietitians love salmon so much), but the mercury is low.

Just think of anchovies as the small fish in a big diet, a fish that’s about to swim its way to the top.

Speaking of the Med diet, here are seven Mediterranean diet-approved recipes you can make with your Instant Pot. Plus, five more bonus recipes.

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