I love oysters. But, are there any health benefits of eating oysters?
I love them raw on the half shell. They are great in oyster stew. Baked is also good!
Unfortunately, here in west Texas, oysters are not readily available. But, when we lived near Mobile, Alabama they were in abundant supply! I really miss them and once I started looking into the benefits of eating oysters, I was convinced that they need to be on my menu.
Whether you like them raw, baked, boiled, grilled or fried, oysters are a nutritional powerhouse! I posted my recipe for DIY Campbell's Oyster Stew last week which will definitely become part of my menu planning.
The only thing about fresh oysters is that they are expensive. I don't know about you, but I live on a budget, which means I have a set amount that I spend on groceries for our family each month. Menu planning is a huge part of my ability to feed our large family on so little each month.
Of course, freezing food from our garden also helps but that is all taken into account when I plan the meals we are going to be eating that month. Every so often, we're able to afford a treat like oysters, and it's a delight!
I try to make sure that what I am serving has the most nutritional punch possible. Oysters aren't exactly easy to procure or put together as a meal. If I'm putting in the effort, I want to make sure they're benefitting my family as much as possible!
And, as I thought of how much I enjoy oysters and also the expense of them, I decided to do some research and find out exactly how good oysters are for you. Is it all just a lot of talk? It turns out, not at all!
Here are the health benefits of eating oysters
1. Oysters contain more zinc than any other food
Zinc is necessary for proper growth and development, strengthens the immune system and promotes healing. This definitely upped the ranking of oysters in my mind as a food worthy of our nutritional intake.
2. Oysters are heart healthy
They are high in omega - 3 fatty acids, potassium and magnesium which can help reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke and lower blood pressure. This is common with most seafood. But I like oysters the best!
3. Oysters can help you lose weight!
They are low in calories, low in fat and a good source of protein which makes you feel fuller after eating. They share this with olive oil, which is notorious for it's ability to make people feel full before finishing.
4. Oysters are a good source of other essential nutrients
These include vitamins A, E, and C, zinc, iron, calcium, selenium, and vitamin B12. Selenium is a particularly rare vitamin, which makes oysters very valuable. A few of these vitamins contribute to skin and hair health, which may explain how oysters are commonly associated with beauty (besides the obvious connection to pearls).
5. Oysters can help improve your energy
They are a good source of iron, which helps the body transport oxygen to individual cells giving you more energy.
6. Oysters can help lower your cholesterol
A study done by the University of Washington found that eating oysters can help raise the HDLs (good cholesterol levels) and lower the LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. This is another similarity they share with olive oil.
Other interesting tidbits about oysters
1. Oysters taste better in cooler weather. Spawning, which occurs in the warmer months of May, June, July and August, affects the taste. They are not bad, just not as tasty as in the cooler months. I like to think it's the chilly ocean water that makes it all the tastier.
2. Oysters are considered to be a natural aphrodisiac. American and Italian researchers found that they were rich in amino acids which trigger increased levels of sex hormones. Their high zinc content aids the production of testosterone. And to be honest, I'm always in a better mood when I'm eating something as delicious as oysters.
3. Oysters can be safely eaten in months that don't contain the letter "R." The rule of thumb before refrigeration was not to eat oysters in months whose names have no "R". Remember Alice in Wonderland, when the Walrus and the Carpenter wanted to eat oysters?
This would be May through August when the hot weather would not allow for safe storage of the oysters.
Thankfully, for all us oyster lovers, refrigeration makes it possible to eat them all year round! This was definitely more of an issue during the days when Alice in Wonderland was published.
4. Oysters are good for your garden. Oyster shells are high in calcium which helps balance your soil's pH. Calcium also helps build strong cell walls which leads to healthier plants.
BUT - don't just throw your oyster shells in the garden though. They should be ground into pieces - or you could just purchase the ground oyster shell lime at the local garden center.
5. Oysters can contain harmful bacteria. Be sure of your source! Oysters are filter feeders in the ocean, meaning that they concentrate anything present in the surrounding water.
In the gulf coast area, there would occasionally be warnings after heavy rains (causing the potential for water contamination) not to eat the bay seafood. The oysters were too busy doing their job filtering the mess.
6. Shucking (opening) oysters is a competitive sport. Shucking oyster competitions are held worldwide. There is even a Guinness World Oyster Opening Championship in Galway, Ireland. It's amazing how fast people can shuck these delicious creatures! It makes me want to hire one of them to shuck mine the next time we have them.
7. Eating oysters is environmentally friendly. They are on the Seafood Watch list as a "best choice." This means that seafood in this category is abundant, well-managed and caught or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. There's no risk of depopulating the population at hand by consuming them, nor are they brought about in ways where you have to worry about the ethics or country of origin.
I knew I liked oysters - now, with these 7 benefits of eating oysters, I have other reasons besides just the taste!
Be sure to check out this yummy Copycat Campbell's Oyster Stew Recipe!
How about you - are you an oyster lover? What are your favorite ways to cook and eat oysters?