Scallops are a popular shellfish used in many styles of cooking. At one time, shellfish were avoided because they are higher in cholesterol than other types of fish. However, nutritionally, scallops are low in both calories and fat and a healthful addition to any diet.
Calories and Macronutrients
A normal portion of fish is slightly more than that of other animal foods - 4 ounces versus 3 ounces for beef, poultry, and pork. A 4-ounce serving of scallops contains 100 calories. Scallops are low in fat--contributing only 1 gram of fat per serving. Approximately 0.35 grams of the total fat provided is heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These essential polyunsaturated fatty acids play a crucial role in normal growth and development and may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Scallops are also a good source of lean protein; each four-ounce serving contains 20 grams. In particular, scallops are good sources of three specific amino acids (the building blocks of protein) - cystine, tryptophan and isoleucine.
Scallop meat is a good source of cystine, a sulfur-containing amino acid that helps form healthy skin, hair, bones and connective tissue. It is also important for proper vitamin B6 utilization, in the healing of burns and wounds, and for insulin production. Scallops are also good sources of tryptophan, which helps regulate appetite, elevates the mood, and may help with quality sleep. Isoleucine is another amino acid in scallops that is essential for human health. This nutrient can help heal and repair muscle tissue and can promote muscle recovery after exercise.
Shellfish are higher in cholesterol than other fish. One four-ounce serving contributes 36 milligrams, about 12% of the daily recommended amount of 300 milligrams for adults who have normal cholesterol levels without medication. However, the American Heart Association emphasizes that the mix of fats in the diet is just as important as the amount of cholesterol consumed in foods. Substituting omega-3 rich sources such as fish in place of saturated fat sources is very beneficial for overall heart health.
Scallops are good sources of three minerals - phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. Next to calcium, phosphorus is the most abundant mineral in the body. Phosphorus is particularly important for strong bones and teeth. Each portion of scallops contains about 300 milligrams of phosphorus, about 30% of the daily value. Magnesium is also important for bone health and also plays a role in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. A serving of scallops provides about 19% of the daily value for magnesium.
Potassium is an essential mineral for cardiovascular health as well as the proper functioning for all body cells. Potassium plays a role in normal muscular function and can maintain normal blood pressure levels. Scallops provide 444 milligrams of the 2000 needed daily for children and adults over the age of 10.
Scallops, as most seafood, are natural sources of sodium. One serving contains 180 milligrams, or about 8% of the recommended daily limit.