Shellfish is a category of aquatic animals that includes species such as clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, crabs, shrimp, and lobsters. They are edible by humans and are used as an important source of food in many parts of the world.
The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that all age groups, particularly pregnant women and children under five, should consume fish or shellfish at least twice each week. This is because shellfish can provide essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional benefits.
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Potential health benefits of eating shellfish
1. Shellfish is Rich in Nutrients
Shellfish is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain essential vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus, selenium, zinc, iodine, folate, magnesium, and vitamins A, E, and B12. Therefore, consuming shellfish regularly can help boost your nutrient intake.
2. Shellfish May Promote Heart Health
Some evidence suggests that eating shellfish can help support heart health as it’s packed with essential fatty acids, such as omega-3s. These healthy fats help reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attack. They also contain potassium, which helps control blood pressure.
3. Shellfish May Boost Immunity
As per research, shellfish is rich in zinc, an essential mineral that helps to boost your immune system by producing infection-fighting white blood cells. It is also high in selenium, which helps to reduce inflammation and ward off infections.
4. Shellfish May Help You Lose Weight
Shellfish are low in calories and offer plenty of healthy proteins. Eating shellfish can help you feel fuller for longer, leading to better weight control.
5. Shellfish May Help Improve Brain Health
Studies say shellfish are high in vitamin B12, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, which help to boost cognitive function and memory. Besides, shellfish contain choline, which helps prevent memory loss and cognitive decline as we age.
6. Shellfish May Boost Bone Health
Another potential benefit of eating shellfish is that they contain essential minerals like phosphorus and calcium, which are important for bone strength and development. Therefore, consuming shellfish regularly may help prevent bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
7. Shellfish May Eye Health
Shellfish is an excellent source of healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Studies have shown that consuming these types of fats regularly helps improve vision and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Are there any risks to eating shellfish?
Yes, there are certain risks associated with eating shellfish. Shellfish can contain harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause food-borne illnesses in humans. It is also possible for shellfish to accumulate toxins from the environment, such as heavy metals or biotoxins produced by algae. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the source of any shellfish you consume and to follow safe handling and preparation practices when preparing them.
- Hosomi, R., Yoshida, M., & Fukunaga, K. (2012). Seafood Consumption and Components for Health. Global Journal of Health Science, 4(3), 72-86. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4776937/
- Seafood and health: What you need to know? – PubMed. (2021, January 1). PubMed. Retrieved February 7, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34311902/
- Xu, L., Cai, J., Gao, T., & Ma, A. (2021). Shellfish consumption and health: A comprehensive review of human studies and recommendations for enhanced public policy. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33527847/