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Chromatography Assesses the Health Benefits of Anchovies

Apr 08 2019 Read 5145 Times

Small, green with a silver stripe running down their sides, anchovies are not everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to eating fish. But perhaps we should reconsider these thoughts. Many countries use anchovies in their cuisine as a delicacy and they undoubtedly provide health benefits. So, lets take a brief look at anchovies and also see how chromatography has helped demonstrate that they are a healthy option.

What are anchovies?

Anchovies are known as forage fish - this means that they are preyed on by larger fish, seabirds and marine animals for food - they are also used by fishermen as bait for sea bass and tuna. Found in seas and oceans all around the world including the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, Mediterranean Sea and even in some South American fresh waters, anchovies eat plankton and small newly hatched fish.

They belong to the family Engraulidae - and are classified as have a long snout projecting beyond the mouth, one dorsal fin and no adipose fin, no lateral line and no fin spines. There are over 140 recognised species of anchovy that are separated into 17 genera. The genus that is most significant commercially is known as Engraulis and contains nine species.

Gentleman’s Relish sir?

Anchovies are eaten all over the world in many different preparations. In South East Asia, they are sold as dried fish and in fermented condiments. They are also used as flavourings in fish stocks and soups and are popular as a deep-fried snack. In Europe, anchovies have found their way onto pizzas and scrambled eggs - the traditional dish of Scotch woodcock made from scrambled eggs on toast with whole anchovies served on top. In the UK, anchovy is also the main ingredient in Gentleman’s Relish - a type of anchovy paste created in 1826. Apparently only one person knows the recipe of the paste which contains anchovies, butter, herbs and spices.

Healthy eating

Anchovies are an oily fish - and like other oily fish they can bring healthy benefits to the table. They are a good source of protein and are high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Reports suggest anchovies can help improve heart health by reducing the amount of LDL cholesterol. The many vitamins and minerals present in anchovies can also help build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis - a condition that can weaken bones.

A recent study has investigated the riboflavin and niacin (vitamins B2 and B3) content of anchovies. Using a newly developed high-performance liquid chromatography method (HPLC-MS/MS), a team in Italy found that the anchovy samples tested met the legal requirements of EU Regulation 432/2012. This allows the producers to claim that anchovies provide a minimum of 15% of a person’s daily requirements of the vitamins. Liquid chromatography methods can be developed for many different samples by adjusting the conditions used - as discussed in the article, The Role of Methanol and Acetonitrile as Organic Modifiers in Reversed-phase Liquid Chromatography.

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