Open tin cans with canned fish

Is ​Conservas Healthy? What You Need to Know About the Benefits of Tinned Fish

Have you heard of conservas? If not, you might be missing out on a delicious & easy meal option that packs in a variety of health benefits.

This high quality tinned fish may be the next best addition to your diet. Read on to find out more about what conservas is, the health benefits it offers, and why tinned fish should be on your menu more often.

Open tin cans with canned fish

This article contains affiliate links. As always, all opinions are my own.

What is conservas?

Conservas are a type of preserved food, particularly seafood, that originated in Spain and Portugal. The term “conservas” originates from the Spanish and Portuguese word for “preserved” or “conserved” foods

These foods are known for their high quality and delicious taste, often made with top-quality ingredients and preserved in cans or jars.

Some common types of conservas include Cantabrian anchovies, Bonito del Norte tuna, mussels in escabeche, and octopus in olive oil.

Conservas require little to no preparation, as they are already cooked and preserved, making them a convenient option for meal planning.

Is conservas the same as tinned fish?

Tins on a white surface

Conservas and tinned fish are often used interchangeably, but there are some differences between the two. Both terms refer to preserved seafood, but conservas are specifically associated with the Iberian Peninsula, including Spain and Portugal.

Conservas are known for their high quality, delicious taste, and use of top-quality ingredients. They are often preserved in cans or jars and can include a variety of seafood such as anchovies, mussels, clams, salmon, squid, octopus, scallops, and sea urchin.

On the other hand, tinned fish is a broader term that can refer to any type of fish that has been canned or tinned. It is not limited to the Iberian Peninsula and may not have the same level of quality or delicate taste as conservas. 

The nutrition value of conservas

The nutritional value of conservas can vary depending on the type of seafood and the preservation method used. 

Generally, conservas provide a good source of protein and healthy fats, especially heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The amount of protein, calories, and good fats will vary depending on the type of tinned fish being consumed.

Conservas are often preserved in sauce or olive oil, which can contribute to their nutritional value. The olive oil can increase the fat and calorie contents of the food, however these beneficial fats can also enrich the flavor and nutrient absorption.  

Because conservas uses high quality ingredients, the nutritional content is typically the same or superior to standard tinned fish varieties. 

Health benefits of tinned fish

Woman eating fish salad in a restaurant

Although conservas are generally the highest quality tinned fish, all tinned fish can offer a variety of health benefits.

One of the biggest benefits of tinned fish is the convenience. Having shelf-stable fish on hand can be a great way to encourage eating fish more often. And since eating at least 2 servings of fish per week, including one serving of oil fish, is recommended by both the American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, making fish more convenient can go a long way in improving overall diet quality as well as cardiovascular health.

Some of the main health benefits of tinned fish include:

  1. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids: Tinned fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain function, heart health, and reducing inflammation.
  2. Good source of protein: Tinned fish provides a convenient and affordable source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing muscles and maintaining healthy hair, skin, and nails.
  3. High in vitamin D: Tinned fish is a good source of vitamin D, which is essential for bone health, immune system function, and overall health. 
  4. Contains calcium and iron: Tinned fish is also a source of calcium and iron, which are essential for bone health, blood cell production, and overall health. 
  5. Long shelf life: Tinned fish has a longer shelf life than fresh or frozen fish, making it a convenient option for those with busy lifestyles.
  6. Sustainable option: Some tinned fish products are sourced sustainably, which can help support ocean health and marine ecosystems.
  7. Versatility: Tinned fish is a nutritious and convenient option for those looking to incorporate seafood into their diet. It can be enjoyed on its own, paired with condiments, or added to salads, pastas, pizzas, and more.

Cardiovascular health benefits of tinned fish

Tinned fish, such as tuna, salmon, and sardines, offers several cardiovascular health benefits due to its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for overall health and wellbeing. Some of the key cardiovascular benefits include:

  1. Improved HDL cholesterol: Omega-3 fatty acids in tinned fish help protect against heart disease by improving helpful HDL cholesterol levels.
  2. Reduced risk of heart disease: Omega-3 fatty acids in tinned fish, such as canned salmon, help prevent potentially deadly heart rhythms, inflammation, and the formation of blood clots inside arteries.
  3. Lower blood pressure: Canned tuna, which is rich in omega-3 fats, can improve blood vessel function and lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  4. Reduced risk of stroke, macular degeneration, and dementia: Oily fish like canned salmon, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, have been linked to a reduced risk of stroke, macular degeneration, and dementia..
  5. Reduced risk of breast cancer and improved mental health: Canned sardines, a terrific source of omega-3 fatty acids, are associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer and improved mental health.

When choosing tinned fish, it’s essential to check the sodium content, as some canned fish can be high in sodium. Opt for options with less than 400mg of sodium per 100g, as high sodium intake can have a negative impact on blood pressure and overall health.

Brain health benefits of conservas

Brain health benefits of conservas

Conservas, or tinned fish, offers several brain health benefits due to its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and other essential nutrients. Some of the key benefits include:

  1. Improved brain function: Omega-3 fatty acids in conservas, such as canned salmon and sardines, are vital for brain health as they make up the membranes that surround brain cells.
  2. Reduced inflammation: Omega-3 fatty acids in conservas help reduce inflammation in the brain, which can contribute to cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.
  3. Protection against mercury exposure: Selenium, found in conservas, can help protect against damage due to mercury exposure by neutralizing the harmful effects of the heavy metal.
  4. Immune support: Conservas is a good source of immune-boosting vitamin D, which is essential for overall health and wellbeing.
  5. Reduced risk of depression: Omega-3 fatty acids in conservas have been linked to a lower risk of depression, which can positively impact brain health.

Tinned fish and blood sugar

Tinned fish can be a wonderful addition to your diabetes meal plan. This omega-3 rich food can offer several benefits when it comes to blood sugar management, including:

  1. Protein source: Tinned fish is a convenient and affordable source of protein, which can help regulate blood sugar levels when added to carbohydrate containing meals.
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids: Tinned fish, such as sardines, salmon, and tuna, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity.
  3. Calcium: Some tinned fish, like sardines, contain calcium due to the presence of soft, tiny bones. Calcium is essential for bone health and can also help regulate blood sugar levels.
  4. Opting for tinned fish with lower sodium content can help manage blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease, which people with diabetes have twice the risk of developing.

Is tinned fish good for weight loss?

Active Senior Woman Jogging

As a lower calorie, high protein food, tinned fish can be beneficial for weight loss and weight maintenance, especially when used as a replacement for higher calorie protein options.

Here are a few reasons why tinned fish may help promote weight loss:

  1. High protein content: Tinned fish is a great source of protein, which helps keep you feeling full and reduces cravings by lowering hunger hormones.
  2. Low calorie count: Canned tuna, for example, is low in calories, making it a suitable option for those looking to lose weight. This can be especially beneficial when these lean proteins are used in replacement of higher fat animal proteins. 
  3. Convenience: Tinned fish is fully cooked and ready to incorporate into your favorite meals and snacks, making it a convenient option that can allow better compliance with your meal plan overall. 

How to use tinned fish in the diet

Preparing tinned fish

Tinned fish is a versatile and convenient food option that can be incorporated into various recipes and meal ideas. Here are some ways to use tinned fish in your diet:

  1. Salads: Add tinned fish, such as tuna, salmon, or sardines, to salads for a protein boost and added flavor.
  2. Sandwiches: Combine tinned fish with mayonnaise, mustard, and fresh vegetables for a quick and easy sandwich filling or topping for crackers.
  3. Pastas: Incorporate tinned fish into pasta dishes, such as spaghetti with tuna, tomatoes, and olives.
  4. Stuffed peppers: Use tinned fish as a filling for stuffed peppers, along with rice, vegetables, and spices.
  5. As an appetizer: Mix tinned fish with cocktail sauce and serve as an appetizer or snack.

How to Choose Quality Conservas

When shopping for conservas, it is important to look for quality to maximize nutrition and flavor. Use the following guidelines when purchasing tinned fish for the most nutritious options:

Read the labels: Opt for options with less sodium or “No Salt Added” labels to reduce the amount of sodium in your diet.

Look at the omega-3 fatty acid content: Choose brands with higher omega-3 content to maximize the health benefits of tinned fish.

Selecting Sustainable Brands: Look for brands that use responsible harvesting practices and support sustainable fishing methods.Check for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label, which indicates that the fish has been sourced from sustainable fisheries.

Choose conservas with minimal ingredients, as this often indicates a higher quality product. Opt for brands that avoid using artificial preservatives, which can compromise the taste and nutritional quality of the product.

Where can I buy conservas?

Tinned fish can be purchased online as well as at most grocery stores and food markets.

If you are looking for high quality conservas, some great brands to check out include Patagonia Provisions, Fishwife, Siesta Co., José Gourmet, Nuri, and Portugalia Marketplace.

These brands are known for their sustainable sourcing practices, high-quality ingredients, and delicious flavors.

The bottom line on the health benefits of tinned fish

Canned fish in tin cans of rosemary

Adding tinned fish to your meal plan can be a terrific way to boost your intake of seafood and add more quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids to your diet.

Tinned fish is an affordable, convenient, and shelf-staple option that can make it easier to add seafood into your diet consistently. 

When choosing conservas, look for high quality options with minimal ingredients, sustainable sourcing practices, and lower sodium when possible.

Aim to add fish, such as tinned fish, to your diet twice a week. Conservas can be a wonderful way to enjoy delicious seafood in a convenient way while adding more variety to your diet.

Are you looking for more ways to add fish to your diet? Give these easy recipes a try:

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