Shellfish is a term used to describe aquatic animals with a shell skeleton or a shell.
Edible shellfish are divided into two categories:
Examples of crustaceans are crayfish, shrimp, and lobsters. Their bodies are covered with sections of a shell that look like armor. Mollusks, on the other hand, are grouped into:
• One-shelled or univalves
• Two-shelled or bivalves
Examples of bivalves are scallops, mussels, and oysters. Univalves shellfish include conch, snails, abalone and other creatures that have a single shell that acts as a covering on their soft bodies. Examples of edible cephalopod include octopus and squids. The cephalopods have features such as a beaked head, an internal shell, and tentacles on the head. Shellfish flavors range from briny to sweet, and they have a meaty, delicate and soft textures. Many people who might not be fish eaters are happy to consume shellfish such as scallops, shrimp, and lobsters. Shellfish health benefits are numerous. Below are some of them that will make you understand why you might need to make shellfish part of your balanced diet.
Shellfish has high protein levels, and most of them have very little fat. Although shellfish are low in calories, the method you use to prepare and cook them is very important. You can boil or stream the shellfish rather than fry it, to benefit from low cholesterol. For instance, 3 ounces of steamed or boiled shrimp has 85 calories while if you deep fry or bread the same amount, you will have an equivalent of 240 calories. Some of the calories come from the protein content in the shellfish, and the body makes use of the protein to manufacture enzymes, hormones, antibodies, and also to allow for new cell growth.
Proteins are essential for the human body. They are a source of amino acids that the body needs to make proteins. Shellfish are among foods that are said to be the best dietary sources of protein. The protein in shellfish has a high content of amino acids, and it is easily digestible as it lacks connective tissue. Men need 56 grams of protein every day, while women require 46 grams of protein daily. If you eat a serving of lobster which is already cooked, you will get 32 grams. Oysters and crab will give you 19 and 30 grams respectively. A cup of mussels will provide you 18 grams of proteins.
Shellfish also have a low concentration of saturated fat. Some of the shellfish have moderate or high dietary cholesterol. Studies have shown that dietary cholesterol is healthier than saturated fat, as it does not raise the blood cholesterol levels as much as the saturated fats. Many shellfish including lobster, mussels, crabs, and scallops have lower dietary cholesterol levels compared to the levels in beef and chicken.
Shellfish are a source of vitamins including vitamin B-12, Vitamin A, vitamin B6, Vitamin B3 among other vitamins. A cup serving of mussels has 240 units of Vitamin A and contributes to 10% and 8% of the recommended intake of vitamin A for female and male respectively. Vitamin B-12 or cobalamin helps your body fight cancer growth, and ensures cell behavior that is healthy for you. It is the source of hemoglobin which is the chemical that leads to healthy blood cell functions, and it also supports the communication of nerve cells.
Source Of Minerals
Shellfish are a major source of various minerals including:
A mineral such as zinc is essential for your body as it helps to heal wounds. Iron helps prevent anemia. Copper, on the other hand, is needed for a better immune system and also as a source of energy. Since you need small amounts of these minerals, eating a serving of any shellfish will provide your body with the required intake of mineral that you need daily.
One significant reason why shellfish is healthy for you is that it is similar to other sea-foods. Shellfish including oysters, crabs, and mussels are a source of the essential docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) fatty acids. Fatty acids help in brain development. They are also important, as they reduce body inflammation. They have also been said to strengthen our immune system, and do away with depression as well as prevent certain types of cancers.
The fatty acids in shellfish make the heart healthy. This idea is based on observations that people living in Arctic Greenland, and other marine cultures where fish and other sea-foods are commonly consumed, appear to have low rates of deaths resulting from heart disease. These observations have led to many studies being conducted which have provided evidence that indeed consumption of fish and other sea-foods which have fatty acids reduce inflammation, even in patients showing early signs of heart disease. The fatty acids also reduce the risk of development of abnormal heartbeat and the development of high levels of fat in the blood.
If you are expectant, shellfish can be a source of nutrients you need for you and your baby. However, ensure that you eat it cooked and not raw. Avoid raw shellfish as it can cause food poisoning which can be fatal during pregnancy. Eat thoroughly cooked shellfish to kill harmful bacteria or viruses. Ensure to also buy or fish shellfish from regulated and tested waters. If you are a lover of seafood, eat shellfish in moderation during pregnancy to avoid the intake of too much sodium.
By now, you might be aware that you should not eat raw shellfish from contaminated waters. There are also risks that come from eating the ones from certified clean water since it is hard to monitor all the shellfish that is found in approved beds. There are of course many people who eat them raw, and they do not get sick. However, to be safe, buy your shellfish from aqua farms or reputable markets and seek for certification that the shellfish were harvested from waters that are state approved.
Another caution while eating shellfish is the risk of consuming too much sodium. High levels of sodium can cause kidney stones, heart disease, and gastric cancer. Thus, shellfish lovers are advised to eat them in moderation, especially the ones with a high salt concentration such as crabs and lobsters.
Whether you are a seafood lover or not, eating shellfish comes with many health benefits. Make it a habit to incorporate shellfish in your meal to receive a healthy dose of nutrition.
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