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The Nutrition of Oysters


Oysters are mollusks that are often eaten raw or cooked. They are a very nutritious food, with lots of protein, vitamins and minerals! They have a longer shelf life than some shellfish, you can keep them up to 4 weeks if you buy them fresh and keep them refrigerated out of water in 100% humidity. When you are ready to eat oysters, you should cook them alive or eat them raw. You can tell if an oyster has died because the shell will be open and doesn't close when you tap it. If it has opened, it is no longer safe to eat.

Nutritional Value of Oysters

1 medium raw oyster, ~50g

  • Calories: 41
  • Fat: 1g / 2% DV
  • Protein: 5g
  • Carbohydrates: 2g / 1% DV
  • Iron: 14% DV
  • B12: 133% DV
  • Zinc: 55% DV
  • Copper: 39% DV
  • Selenium: 55% DV
  • Manganese: 16% DV
  • Vitamin C: 7% DV
  • Riboflavin: 7% DV

Health Benefits of Oysters

  • Oysters rate 106 on the Amino Acid Score, which means that they are a complete/high quality protein source. Every cell in your body needs protein and tissues are constantly breaking down and needing to build back up with proteins. It also is a good source of iron when you eat a couple oysters. Iron is important because it helps with cell development.
  • B12 is a B vitamin that is important for helping make red blood cells, DNA and is essential for healthy hair, skin and nails. It is also associated with lowering high homocysteine levels (which is linked to heart disease), as well as reducing your risk of diabetes, depression, osteoporosis and some cancers. Some people who are at risk of anemia should consider adding oysters to their diets to get enough B12.
  • Oysters contain large amounts of minerals including selenium which works with vitamin E as an antioxidant, both protecting cells and supporting immune function. Eating multiple oysters could also provide most of your daily needs for vitamin C, another antioxidant that fights free radicals.

Cooking Ideas for Oysters

Oysters can be eaten a variety of ways by consuming them raw, smoked, baked, boiled, stewed, steamed, broiled, canned, pickled, roasted, or smoked. Like any protein source, it can be added to a many of different recipes. In addition to eating them raw or cooked individually, you can make delicious oyster soup or stew. Other popular ideas include making oyster pie, adding it to pasta dishes, or baking it into cornbread and stuffing. For real oyster lovers, try an oyster martini or as an add-on for Bloody Marys.

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Emily DeLacey MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and currently working in Jamaica as a HIV/ AIDS Prevention Specialist. She attended Central Washington University for her Bachelor's Degree in Science and Dietetics and continued on after her internship to Kent State University for her Master's Degree in Science and Nutrition, with a focus on public health and advocacy. She served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi 2012-2014 working as a Community Health Advisor in a rural village, immersing in the joys of life without electricity or running water. She has been to 20+ countries and 47 of the 50 states in the US. Traveling, adventuring and experiencing new cultures has made her a passionate advocate for the equality of nutrition and wellness for all people.

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