Oysters are shellfish that live in marine habitats such as bays and oceans. They are an important part of the ecosystem, filtering out pollutants from the water and providing a habitat for other species such as shells and mussels.
There are many different types of oysters – their salty, flavorful meat is considered a delicacy all over the world. Although these mollusks are well known for their supposedly aphrodisiac qualities, they have a lot to offer for health.
This article discusses the scientific facts about how oysters are useful for women and men. And also the risks – from eating oysters and explain the best ways to cook them.
Nutritional Information of Oysters
Oysters have a hard shell of irregular shape that protects the gray, chubby inner body. This inner body, known as oyster meat, is very nutritious.
100 grams of wild oriental oysters provides the following nutrients ( 1 ):
- Calories: 68
- Protein: 7 grams
- Fat: 3 grams
- Vitamin D: 80% of the Reference Daily Value (ESN)
- Thiamine (Vitamin B1): 7% of ESF
- Niacin (Vitamin B3): 7% of ESF
- Vitamin B12: 324% of ESF
- Iron: 37% of ENG
- Magnesium: 12% of ESN
- Phosphorus: 14% of ESN
- Zinc: 605% of ENG
- Copper: 223% of ENG
- Manganese: 18% of ENG
- Selenium: 91% of ENG
Oysters are low in calories, but they contain many nutrients, including protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. For example, a 100 gram serving provides more than 100% of the norm of vitamin B12, zinc and copper and more than 75% of your daily needs for selenium and vitamin D.
These delicious shellfish are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids , a family of polyunsaturated fats that play an important role in your body, such as regulating inflammation and maintaining the health of your heart and brain ( 2 ).
Oysters contain important nutrients such as protein, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. They are especially rich in vitamin B12, zinc and copper.
Useful properties of oysters for the human body
Great source of important nutrients
Oysters are packed with nutrients. They are especially rich in the following vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin B12. This nutrient is crucial for maintaining the nervous system, metabolism and the formation of blood cells. Many people, especially older people, are deficient in this vitamin ( 5 ).
- Zinc. This mineral plays a vital role in the health of the immune system, metabolism and cell growth. A serving of oysters with a volume of 3.5 ounces (100 grams) provides more than 600% ESN ( 6 ).
- Selenium. This mineral supports proper thyroid function and metabolism. It also acts as a powerful antioxidant, helping prevent cell damage caused by free radicals ( 7 ).
- Vitamin D. Essential for immune health, cell growth, and bone health. Many people are deficient in this vitamin, especially those who live in cold climates ( 8 ).
- Iron. Your body needs iron to produce hemoglobin and myoglobin, proteins that carry oxygen throughout the body. Many people do not get enough iron in their diet ( 9 ).
In addition to their various health functions, many of these nutrients also provide antioxidant protection.
For example, selenium is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect your body from oxidative stress, the imbalance that occurs when an excessive amount of free radicals is formed.
Oxidative stress has been associated with many chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and mental decline ( 10 ).
Oysters are rich in zinc, iron, selenium and vitamins B12 and D. Some of these nutrients have antioxidant properties and contribute to improving overall health.
High quality protein source
Oysters are a great source of good protein. 100 grams contains 7 grams of this macronutrient. They are also a complete source of protein, that is, they contain all nine essential amino acids that your body needs.
Adding protein sources to food and snacks can help induce a feeling of fullness and promote weight loss.
A high protein diet can also help control blood sugar, especially in people with diabetes. For example, a review of nine studies showed that high-protein diets significantly reduced hemoglobin A1c, a marker for long-term blood sugar control, in adults with type 2 diabetes ( 21 ).
Moreover, high protein diets can reduce the risk factors for heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes. A review of 18 studies in people with type 2 diabetes showed the following. High protein diets significantly reduce triglycerides, a major risk factor for heart disease ( 22 ).
High-protein diets, including oysters, can help reduce weight, improve blood sugar control and reduce risk factors for heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes.
Contain a unique antioxidant
To understand how oysters are useful, you need to know their unique composition of nutrients. Besides the fact that oysters contain useful nutrients such as vitamins. Oysters also contain a recently discovered unique antioxidant called 3,5-dihydroxy-4-methoxybenzyl alcohol (DHMBA).
DHMBA is a phenolic compound with powerful antioxidant effects. In vitro studies have shown that it is 15 times more effective in combating oxidative stress than Trolox, a synthetic form of vitamin E commonly used to prevent damage caused by oxidative stress ( 23 ).
Some in vitro studies show that oyster DHMBA can be especially beneficial for liver health. For example, one in vitro study showed that it protects human liver cells from damage and cell death caused by induced oxidative stress ( 24 ).
Scientists hope that DHMBA may be useful in the prevention or treatment of liver disease in the future. But at present, studies are limited to in vitro studies ( 25 ).
Another in vitro study showed that DHMBA lowers LDL oxidation of (bad) cholesterol. Cholesterol oxidation is a chemical reaction associated with atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in your arteries), a major risk factor for heart disease ( 26 , 27 ).
Although these results are promising, more research is needed to determine if DHMBA will be effective in combating oxidative stress in humans.
DHMBA is a powerful antioxidant in oysters. This can help fight oxidative damage, beneficially affecting liver and heart health. However, studies are currently limited to in vitro studies.
Potential harm of oysters
We examined the benefits of oysters for the human body. However, there are some potential problems, especially when consumed raw.
May contain bacteria
Eating raw oyster meat increases the risk of bacterial infection.
Vibrio bacteria – including Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus – can be found in mollusks that feed on filters. Using them raw can increase the risk of infection.
Infections caused by these bacteria can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. And even more serious illnesses such as sepsis are a serious blood infection that can lead to death ( 28 ).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 100 out of 80,000 people who get vibrio bacteria in the United States every year die from this infection ( 29 ).
Oysters can also carry viruses and enteroviruses such as Norwalk, which can be hazardous to health ( 30 ).
In addition, these mollusks may contain chemical contaminants, including heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury ( 31 ).
Those who prefer to eat raw oysters should be aware of these potential risks. There is currently no way to guarantee that they are safe for consumption in their raw form, despite strict control by both state and federal authorities.
This is why large healthcare organizations such as CDC recommend using them only when cooked ( 35 ).
Oysters contain an extremely high amount of zinc. Although this mineral is important for health, excessive consumption can be harmful.
Although zinc toxicity is most often associated with supplements. Too much oyster intake can lead to negative health effects. Such as a decrease in the levels of copper and iron minerals with which zinc competes for absorption.
In addition, those who are allergic to seafood should avoid using them.
Raw oysters can carry potentially harmful bacteria and viruses. Medical organizations recommend preparing them before meals to avoid dangerous infections.
How to cook oysters
Since they can be a health hazard, eat raw oysters with care. Always buy them at a reputable institution – although this does not guarantee safety ( 36 ).
Eating them thermally processed is much safer, as cooking destroys harmful bacteria.
Here are some tasty and easy ways to add oysters to your diet:
- Add cooked oyster meat to pasta or pasta.
- Roll whole oysters in bread crumbs and fry.
- Serve them cooked in the sink.
- Add them to seafood soups and stews.
- Sauté oyster jerky in coconut oil.
- Steam and pour in lemon juice and oil.
- Lubricate the halves of the oysters in the marinade of your choice and grill them.
Here are some safety tips to consider when buying oysters:
- Choose only oysters with closed shells. Discard those with open sinks.
- According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), oysters that do not open during cooking should also be thrown away ( 37 ).
- Do not cook too much at once in one pan, for example, when cooking, as this can lead to undercooking.
To avoid infection, consume carefully prepared oysters. Choose those with closed sinks and discard any that do not open during cooking.
Oysters are very nutritious shellfish that offer a wide range of health benefits.
What are oysters good for? They are filled with high quality protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – all this is good for your health.
However, raw oysters may contain potentially harmful bacteria, so enjoy them cooked to prevent infection.
If you like seafood, try adding these delicious nutritious shellfish to your diet.