For many people, shellfish are indulgences. Some are even considered delicacies that should only be consumed from time to time. Many people avert from eating too much shellfish due to the risks associated with undercooked or raw seafood consumption. Some of these risks may include mercury poisoning, viral infections, or many other shellfish toxin-related poisonings. It really is an individual choice whether or not you indulge yourself in tasty shellfish or not. But if you do, you may be allowing your body to also reap the benefits of consuming shellfish, as they are full of nutrients. One of the most beneficial shellfish out there in the ocean is the oyster, and regardless of how it is eaten, it can help you become healthier in general.
Oysters are mollusks just like mussels, scallops, and clams. They can be served many ways depending on preference. Many people like their oysters raw or just slightly cooked by steaming or with the use of some type of citric acid such as lemon. Oysters can also be served breaded and fried next to a salad, as a sandwich, or even on its own. Consumption of oysters date back to many centuries ago, and the commercialization of oysters go hand in hand with the development of the oyster cultivation process. Aside for consumption, some types of oysters are farmed for the purpose of harvesting pearls. You can sometimes get lucky with a pearl oyster, but any time you eat oysters, you get the many health benefits they offer.
Protein source from the sea
Surprisingly, oysters are a great source of protein. Protein is essential to the proper development, functioning, and maintenance of the body’s tissues. Many parts in the body are made up of and needs protein including hair, eyes, skin, muscles, and all the organs. Protein is also an important source of energy for the body as well. In addition, proteins are intricately involved in many of the human body’s processes such as the formulation of hormones, enzymes, and even antibodies. The role of proteins in the body is so significant that adequate amounts of it are critical. A small 6-ounce serving of raw oysters can provide you up to 16 grams of protein. This is equivalent to roughly 27 percent of the recommended daily intake of protein.
Low fat source
The same 6-ounce serving of oysters only contain roughly 4 grams of fat, with its saturated components topping at only 1 gram. Oysters are generally considered to be a low-fat food and are great for those who are keeping an eye on their fat intake. The only you would have to be concerned about fat with oysters is when you buy them canned in oil. Typically, olive oil is used to prepackage oysters. While olive oil is generally associated with providing the body with healthy unsaturated oils, it might still be better to purchase oysters canned in water, as the fat content doesn’t change with the addition of water. Therefore, oysters are great food options for those who are trying to lose or maintain their weight, especially since they are also a low-calorie food source with approximately 40-50 calories in every 6 medium oysters.
Rich in nutrients
Besides being rich in protein, oysters are also rich in other essential nutrients as well. They are known to be a great source of iron, the very mineral responsible for the transport of oxygen through the bloodstream to the entire body. A single 3.5-ounce serving of oysters can provide over 35 percent of the recommended daily intake of iron. Oysters are also rich in B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is necessary in the body for many important reasons including the synthesis of DNA, the formation of red blood cells, and optimal conditions of overall neurological functions. The same 3.5-ounce serving of oysters can cover for all of the daily recommended intake of vitamin B12 plus at least 200 percent more.
In addition, oysters are also a great source of zinc and copper. Zinc works to improve overall immune function and helps the body in the healing process of cells. Copper, on the other hand, can increase overall energy levels and boost immunity levels as well. The same serving of 3.5 ounces of oysters can over 600 percent and over 200 percent of the recommended daily intake of zinc and copper respectively.
Another benefit of eating oysters
In many cultures, oysters are considered as aphrodisiacs. Actual studies have shown that oysters are full of amino acids that trigger higher levels of various sex hormones. And with the amount of zinc oysters can provide in small amounts, they also aid in the healthy production of testosterone. It can be safe to say then that eating oysters regularly can contribute to a healthy libido.
With everything being said, you shouldn’t take the risks of eating oysters lightly. There’s a reason they were mentioned early on, and that’s because they are serious and can sometimes even be deadly. The best way to make sure you avoid any type of poisoning or acquiring harmful bacteria from eating oysters is to guarantee the reputation of your food source. Make sure to only buy oysters from reliable sources, and also make sure that they are as fresh as possible. None of these benefits are worth getting sick over. You can also indulge in raw dozens of oysters from time to time, but cooking is the safest way to go. Sure there’s nothing like the briny and slimy taste and feel of a raw oyster, but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy their taste without risking getting sick. All in all, if you are risking your health to eat something delightful, oysters will be one of the best things you can enjoy. If you’re lucky enough to never get sick from them, they’ll give you some of the best health benefits as well.
Clover, Charles (2004). The End of the Line: How overfishing is changing the world and what we eat. London: Ebury Press.
Kimbro, D. L. & E. D. Grosholz. 2006. Disturbance influences oyster community richness and evenness, but not diversity. Ecology 87:2378–2388.
Kurlansky, Mark (2006). The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell. New York: Ballantine Books.
Nell J. A. (2002). “Farming triploid oysters”. Aquaculture. 210: 69–88.