Shellfish are rich in protein, healthy fats, and minerals, and they taste great too — what’s not to love?
It’s no surprise, then, that we’ve been eating clams, mussels, and more for years — over 165 thousand years, to be exact.
If you’re looking for more excuses to dig into this tasty, nutritious delicacy, discover the top reasons you should eat more shellfish.
What Are Shellfish?
The term shellfish encompasses a wide range of aquatic animals with a shell-like exoskeleton. These animals are divided into two categories: crustaceans (such as lobster, shrimp, and crab) and mollusks (which include scallops, oysters, clams, mussels, squid, and octopus).
The flavor and texture of shellfish vary widely depending on which shellfish category you eat. Some shellfish, such as scallops, have a soft, delicate texture, while shellfish like oysters have a smooth, almost gooey texture and deliver a pure, unrivaled taste of the ocean.
The Benefits of Eating Shellfish
- They Aid Weight Loss
If you’re watching your weight or looking to lose a few of those pounds inevitably gained while eating lots of great food over Christmas, shellfish are a great meal choice.
The nutritional value of shellfish varies from one type to another, but they’re generally low in calories. A 100 gram serving of mussels contains just 74 calories. By comparison, the same amount of beef contains 129 calories, making shellfish a great choice.
Of course, how you cook shellfish is also important. A shellfish dinner can quickly verge on the unhealthy when paired with heavy, rich sauces or cooked in butter. Shrimp steamed or boiled is much better for your gut than deep frying or rolling in breadcrumbs.
Shellfish are also a good source of lean protein, which helps to build muscle and also keeps you fuller for longer, helping to keep those hunger pangs at bay.
- They’re Great for the Environment
Shellfish, when sourced responsibly, are also incredibly sustainable. Millions of individuals work in the fishing industry, but with experts predicting that there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050, their livelihoods are at risk.
Fortunately, sustainably sourced seafood providers are doing their bit by adhering to best practices and ensuring the long-term health of fish species and our oceans overall.
By shopping sustainably, you can enjoy delicious seafood for many years.
- They’re Packed Full of Vitamins and Minerals
Shellfish are nutrient-dense, especially in relation to their weight. Shellfish pack a punch when it comes to vitamins and minerals, with a 100-gram serving of raw oysters boasting ample amounts of vitamins B1, B3, B6, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
The benefits of vitamins and minerals are many, with B vitamins linked to improved happiness and overall wellbeing, more energy, and boosted brainpower.
- They’re Good for Your Heart
Shellfish are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support normal heart function. This is vital, as the body can’t produce these fatty acids on its own and relies on external sources — like seafood.
Because omega-3 fatty acids normalize blood pressure, they reduce the risk of heart failure and strokes. Shellfish — even decadent fish like crab and lobster — are also very low in unhealthy fats, making them perfect for people with high cholesterol. People with high cholesterol are more at risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks, so adding shellfish to your diet might just be what the doctor ordered.
- They Can Help You Look and Feel Better
The benefits of feeling and looking like our best selves can’t be overstated. When we feel good, we exude confidence and tend to look after ourselves. Not only can seafood help you become healthier by being low in fat, but it’s also full of selenium. This nutrient is found in fish like cod and halibut but is also present in shellfish, including mussels and lobster, and has many benefits, such as keeping your nails and hair healthy.
With more plastic ending up in our oceans and a pandemic to boot, we’ve never been more conscious about our health and the impact we have on the environment. If you’re looking to build a bit of sustainability street cred and look and feel better, you might consider giving shellfish a try. It’s an easy addition to your diet that has many benefits — and it’s delicious too.