You already know that oysters are delicious, but did you know that these bivalve mollusks are also incredibly nutritious? Here are a few great reasons to make them a part of your diet.
Note: This story uses nutrition information for Pacific oysters, but there may be some slight variations between Atlantic and Pacific, as well as between wild and farmed varieties.
ProteinOysters are a great source of lean protein—a medium raw oyster generally provides four to five grams of it. A three-ounce portion (about six medium oysters) provides about 15 grams of protein and only about 50 calories. Aside from the fact that protein is the building block of all kinds of body tissues like bones, cartilage, skin and muscles, it also helps you feel full. If you're looking to keep calories in check but still want to feel satisfied, oysters are a great option.
plays a role in male fertility by aiding in testosterone production.
supporting stable mental and emotional health and may have a role in managing depression. Beyond that, the anti-inflammatory impact of omega-3s has been shown to benefit the body in other ways. For example, studies have shown it may help offset the impact of stress hormone cortisol. A three-ounce serving of oysters provides about 629 milligrams. Also, wild species generally are a bit higher in omega-3s than farmed, so consider opting for wild oysters if you're looking to up your intake.
IronIron is a mineral that's important for maintaining stable energy levels by helping transport oxygen through the blood to the different organs and tissues in the body. This is another reason oysters are thought to have an aphrodisiac effect—those benefits to blood circulation certainly translate very well in the bedroom. A three-ounce service provides 24% of your daily needs.
How to Enjoy Oysters' Health BenefitsTo reap those nutritional benefits, enjoy oysters raw, steamed, broiled or baked, but go easy on the bread crumbs and butter. Deep-frying oysters, while delicious, essentially negates those health benefits by introducing extra calories and carbs to the equation along with unhealthy trans fats, depending on the cooking oil used. Rich, creamy oyster stews can also make it easy to overdo it without noticing. While these more caloric versions need not be completely off-limits, know that they're best enjoyed as a very occasional indulgence.
Bottom LineAside from being delicious, oysters offer a range of nutritional benefits and have a place in a healthy, balanced diet. If you have a medical condition that impacts your nutrient needs or if you need to be extra careful about preventing foodborne illness, talk to your healthcare provider for guidance on what a safe amount of oysters are for you and appropriate preparation methods.
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release
Self Nutrition Data