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Shellfish 101: Are Oysters Good For Your Health?

Ready to belly up to the oyster bar this summer? Before enjoying some of your favorite shellfish, you might want to understand their health benefits and the role they can play in a balanced diet.

shucked raw oysters on the half shell with cocktail sauce

Lucky for you, we know a thing or two about seafood. Shellfish happen to be high in protein and a great source of vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, and omega-3 fatty acids. Once you know the health facts and have a high-quality source of shellfish, they can be a delicious and nutritious addition to your diet. 

Today, we’re going to take a deep dive into the health benefits of one particular shellfish; oysters. Read on to learn once and for all if oysters are good for you along with their specific health benefits.

So, Are Oysters Good For You?

Let’s cut to the chase — YES, oysters are good for you!

In fact, oysters are often considered a superfood because of their incredible nutrition-to-calorie ratio. One 3-ounce serving of oysters (typically 2-3 raw oysters) has only 69 calories, 8 grams of protein, and only 2 grams of fat

These shellfish are not only low in calories but they’re also packed with vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients that are essential for your overall health. Oysters are particularly high in vitamin B12, zinc, iron, and selenium. While we’ll take a closer look at how each specific nutrient benefits your health, all of them have antioxidant properties that can help promote overall health and wellness. 

Overall, oysters are a great source of high-quality protein. They are low in calories and contain all nine essential amino acids in addition to a variety of other nutrients.

How Many Oysters Should You Eat in a Day?

Like with any type of food, it’s still best to enjoy oysters in moderation and include them in a balanced diet. Most experts recommend eating no more than a dozen oysters a day. 

As you now know, oysters are a great source of a variety of vitamins and minerals, like zinc. But even these nutrients are important to only have in moderation. Healthline emphasizes that while zinc, in particular, is important to health, too much can be harmful and cause a deficiency in iron or copper.

You would have to eat a lot of oysters in one sitting for this to happen, but it’s still best to enjoy these shellfish in moderation. 

Raw vs Cooked Oysters

It’s important to note that how you prepare your oysters can affect their nutritional value. While raw oysters are good for you, fried oysters contain more calories and carbs. 

What about smoked oysters? Well, smoked oysters are good for you in moderation as well. However, they may be higher in sodium since most smoked oysters need to be preserved and canned.

Ultimately, the best oysters for your health are raw or steamed. Add a touch of lemon or a classic mignonette for some added flavor.

raw oysters on the half with lemon on an ice platter

What About Cholesterol? 

Now, you might have heard that oysters are high in cholesterol and should be avoided if you’re trying to improve your health. This is, in part, untrue.

While it’s true that oysters are high in cholesterol when compared to other foods, cholesterol as a whole is misunderstood. There are two types of cholesterol, LDL is known as the “bad cholesterol” and HDL is known as the “good cholesterol” in our blood.

Doctors used to always emphasize that an excess intake of dietary cholesterol would cause an increase in LDL levels, which is tied to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. However, more research is showing that dietary cholesterol may not be the problem while saturated fat is. 

Shellfish do contain dietary cholesterol but do not contain high levels of saturated fat like other foods high in cholesterol. This makes them a heart-healthy alternative to other proteins!

Fresh raw oysters on ice

Health Benefits of Oysters

While it’s easy to say that oysters are healthy, let’s explore why oysters are good for you in more detail. Here are a handful of the health benefits of oysters.

Promote Heart Health

Oysters, and most seafood in general, are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that are important for heart health. According to the health experts at the National Library of Medicine, Omega-3s help keep your heart healthy and can protect against stroke. They are also ideal for preventing heart disease and can help lower blood pressure. Omega-3s have also been shown to improve sleep quality, improve skin, bone, eye, and joint health, and improve memory and cognition. 

Since your body does not make Omega-3 fatty acids on its own it’s important to get it from the foods in your diet.

Boost Your Immune System

As mentioned before, many of the vitamins and minerals found in oysters also have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants work hard to reduce inflammation and help keep us healthy. Finding foods that are a good source of these nutrients can give your immune system an added boost to help you stay healthy. 

Support Mental Health

Have you ever felt better after eating oysters? You’re not alone! What you eat can affect your overall wellness, including your mental health. 

The New York Times reported that eating oysters really can make you feel good. That’s because they’re a good source of vitamin B12, which studies suggest may help to reduce brain shrinkage. Similarly, oysters have an incredible amount of zinc which can benefit both the immune system and improve mood. 

Part of a Balanced Diet

Finally, we can’t overlook the importance of including oysters (or other seafood) as part of a balanced diet. As you can see, oysters can benefit your overall health. Since they’re low in calories but high in protein, they can also help support weight loss. 

fresh salmon fillet on a bed of ice with a butchers knife above it

Click above (or right here) to hear what our chef and restaurant partners have to say about North Coast Seafoods.

Fresh Oysters Delivered to Your Door

You don’t have to live on the coast to experience the delicious flavor of fresh oysters. North Coast Seafoods can deliver delectable shellfish and more directly to your door.

Our wild and farmed oysters, soft shell clams, hard shell clams, and cultured, organic mussels are responsibly harvested by our dedicated local growers from Eastern Canada through New England to the Mid-Atlantic. 

Our rigorous system for keeping our oysters fresh, safe, and delicious is one of the most unique in the industry and guarantees the purest, cleanest, freshest oysters possible. 

Learn more about our oysters and other seafood for sale online today!

Pure Seafood, Delivered to Your Door

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