Everything You Need to Know About Seafood Nutrition

Craving a crustacean during these warm summer days? You should be! Shrimp and lobster are superfoods, containing an abundance of vitamins to boost your immune system and fight off diseases. Plus, both are loaded with protein and a cancer-fighting antioxidant. With so many health benefits, is one truly better than the other? But first: is seafood even healthy?

Is seafood healthy?

Seafood is very healthy for you. Seafood varietals are high in protein, low in calories and low in saturated fat. Seafood is also rich in vitamins and minerals. Recent studies have shown that eating seafood can decrease the risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity, and hypertension. Seafood also provides essential nutrients for developing infants and children

Most fish is high in Omega-3s which help reduce heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fatty acid that may reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation in the body can damage your blood vessels and lead to heart disease and strokes.”

Shrimp nutrition facts

“Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it…” Yup, Bubba Gump said it best and while, the endless ways to serve this crustacean make it a great summer dish, shrimp is also packed with vitamins and protein and very few calories per serving.

Shrimp calories

There are 84 calories and 18 grams of lean protein in seven medium-sized pieces of shrimp. That’s nearly 50 percent of the daily recommended serving of protein for only 10 percent of your day’s needed calories. In addition, these little sea creatures are a great source of vitamins D, B3 and B12 as well as the mineral selenium, an antioxidant that fights cancer-causing agents and reduces the risk factor for developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression.

Even a shrimp’s pink color reaps reward. Astaxanthin, the primary pigment responsible for that peachy hue, has shown to provide antioxidant support to the musculoskeletal and nervous system along with a decreased risk of colon cancer in animal studies. Still, you should still monitor your intake. Shrimp is high in cholesterol; only four large pieces racks up to 42.5 milligrams. And, resist the urge to dip it in melted butter. Just two ounces can add an extra 400 calories and 25 grams of saturated fat. Instead, add a fresh flavor with a spritz of lemon.

Lobster nutrition facts

Grab your bibs, it’s lobster season! In 2011, the federal government recommended eating eight ounces of seafood per week, which is about the equivalent to a large lobster tail. Similar to shrimp, lobster dishes out a variety of nutrients. Yes, shellfish is high in cholesterol, but consider this: A 3.5 ounce serving of lobster contains about 72 milligrams of cholesterol, whereas the same size serving of chicken contains about 85 milligrams. Shake up your summer dinner menu with this other white meat by incorporating it into your favorite salad and pasta dishes.

Lobster calories

A one-pound lobster—about 4 ounces of cooked meat—contains only 115 calories, less than 1 gram of fat and 24 grams of protein. Plus, this crustacean is also high in the antioxidant selenium, so take advantage of that weekly recommendation to boost your immune system.

Seafood is a healthy alternative to beef, pork and chicken. It’s low in fat, high in protein and rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce the risk of heart disease caused by inflammation and high blood pressure.

While both shrimp and lobster have relatively the same amount of calories and protein in an 8-ounce serving, shrimp is higher in cholesterol. Still, don’t let that deter you from eating the tiny but mighty crustacean. Just 4 ounces supply about 25 percent of your daily total iron requirement. Try incorporating both options in your weekly meals this summer. You may find you prefer one texture or taste over another, but whatever you choose, refrain from topping the dish with an abundance of butter. While it might taste delicious, it bumps up the calories and saturated fat content. Instead, add some garlic or a bit of lemon juice. Soon, you’ll be craving this deep sea delicacy.

Shellfish nutrition

Before you stock up on shellfish, make sure your body can tolerate it. Shellfish is one of the top food allergens, affecting nearly 7 million Americans. Shrimp, lobster and crab exhibit the biggest allergic reactions, but most people can tolerate mollusks, which include clams, oysters and mussels.

In fact, of all the shellfish, mollusks provide the most vitamins, nutrients and protein. A serving of 15 clams, 20 mussels or 4 medium-sized oysters brings in a hefty dose of vitamins A and B, iron, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Oysters give you one-third of the recommended daily value of iron.

But what if you aren’t allergic to shrimp, lobster and crab? Well, shrimp isn’t necessarily dense in nutrients, but it does provide a fine source of selenium, calcium and iodine, and is full of protein and vitamin B. Lobster and crab contain decent levels of magnesium, selenium and zinc, but not the protein and omega-3s that fish or even mollusks offer.

Fish vs shellfish

Both fish and shellfish are huge sources of vitamin B and protein, but if you don’t want to break the bank, stick to responsibly sourced fish. Shellfish can also be risky to serve; it sends more people to the hospital than any other food. However, if you’re not picky, both choices offer the nutrients your body needs and are a great way to mix in a different flavor to your otherwise meat-heavy meals.

Callahan is a fitness enthusiast who moonlights on the growth team at ClassPass. She's a certified fitness trainer, with years of fitness experience both inside and outside of the gym. When she's not working you can find her pursuing her passion projects as editor of Trek Montana, contributing writer to the Ultimate Nashville Bach Planning Site and Plan Your Bach.
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