Reap the benefits of these nutritious seafood morsels
A change in perception may be necessary when thinking about shellfish. It hasn’t enjoyed the best press over the years, due to increasing awareness of allergies and food poisoning. However, there are many reasons for eating these crustaceans and molluscs – they are a good source of selenium, iodine, zinc and copper, and are also low in fat. Some types of shellfish, including mussels, oysters and crabs have large amounts of long chain omega-3 fatty acids which may help to prevent heart disease.
Shellfish can be split into two groups – crustaceans and molluscs. The former includes lobsters, crabs, crayfish, langoustines and prawns, creating the basis for a number of protein-packed dishes. Crab meat is ideal for making you feel full, and provides two beneficial omega-3 fatty acids with anti-inflammatory properties – EPA and DHA. Studies suggest that in addition to improving heart health, these acids also help to lower blood pressure and boost cognitive function. Minerals found in crab such as copper, zinc and selenium also support the immune system. Prawns and lobsters are good sources of these minerals, in addition to vitamins B-12, B-6 and niacin. However, bear in mind that they also contain a high level of sodium.
Mussels and other molluscs
To feel the benefits of an impressive number of nutrients, choose mussels. These morsels contain nearly the same amount of protein per 100g as chicken. They also harbour high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and a range of vitamins and minerals such as zinc, helping to build immunity. Mussels are also comprised of iron and folic acid to levels which rival those found in red meats. Clams are extremely iron-rich, and contain very high amounts of vitamins C and B-12, which are essential for healthy nervous and immune systems. Cockles are full of vitamins and nutrients to support the function of the brain, nervous system and red blood cells. Vitamin B-12, iodine, iron, selenium, phosphorous and copper are all found in cockles, which also have the added benefit of being low in calories. Oysters are great providers of these nutrients, and possess a very high amount of zinc.
There are essential hygiene tips to follow when keeping this food source. As soon as possible after purchase, put shellfish in the fridge or freezer in covered containers. If you are storing live creatures, don’t place them in airtight containers, as they need to breathe. Discard any with cracked or broken shells – if you tap them, they should close. If they remain open, it is best to discard these, and when cooking, get rid of shellfish that fails to open when cooked. Ensure that any raw seafood or their liquid doesn’t come into contact with cooked items – use separate plates and utensils when preparing shellfish. If you are marinating seafood, throw away the sauce after removing the raw fish.