Low-Fat Heart-Healthy Diet
Oysters, clams, lobster, crab-shellfish evoke the feel of warm sand, sharp breezes and saltwater. Maybe that’s why we love them. And maybe that’s why we’ve increased our consumption of shellfish. Or maybe we’ve simply come to understand how they can contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
Shellfish have negligible amounts of fat and they can be used to replace fatty red meat and other foods that can set the stage for heart disease. In addition to being lean dreams, shellfish also have a trace of the same heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids that are found in the oil of finfish.
Shellfish are a terrific source of vitamin B12, which is essential for a healthy nervous system. A single serving of a dozen steamed clams, for example, has about 2,700 percent of recommended dietary allowance of B12, while six medium-size steamed oysters have 736 percent.
Most shellfish are good sources of iron and immunity-boosting zinc as well. A serving of 20 steamed clams supplies 140 percent of your daily need for iron and 17 percent of your daily need for zinc. A half-dozen oysters offers 510 percent of your daily need for zinc and 28 percent of your need for iron.
Don’t Worry about the Cholesterol
Although most shellfish are generally recommended as part of a heart-healthy diet, concerns about their relatively high cholesterol content have kept many scientists n the past from giving them a full-fledged endorsement.
You could low your cholesterol level by replacing the high-fat meat, cheese and eggs in your diet with the low-fat oysters, clams, crab and mussels. You can eat as much shellfish as any other source of animal protein-up to six ounces a day, seven days a week-and still be on a heart-healthy diet.
The only exceptions are shrimp and squid. These shellfish have appreciably more cholesterol than other shellfish. Some doctors recommend that you eat them sparingly if cholesterol is a concern for you.