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Are Mussels Healthy?

author image Sylvie Tremblay, MSc
Sylvie Tremblay holds a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology and has years of experience as a cancer researcher and neuroscientist. Based in Ontario, Canada, Tremblay is an experienced journalist and blogger specializing in nutrition, fitness, lifestyle, health and biotechnology, as well as real estate, agriculture and clean tech.
Are Mussels Healthy?
Two bowls of cooked mussels. Photo Credit Shaiith/iStock/Getty Images

Mussels, a type of clam whose flesh has a mild, salty flavor, make for a decadent yet healthful addition to your diet. They're versatile in the kitchen, and they work well in salads, soups or as a topping for pasta. Mussels are low in mercury, making them safe for consumption by pregnant women and children, who are typically more sensitive to mercury. They can consume mussels and other low-mercury fish up to twice a week. Eating mussels also significantly boosts your nutrient intake, but they also contain sodium and cholesterol, which lowers their nutritional value.

Calories, Protein and Fat

Each 6-ounce serving of steamed mussels -- the meat from approximately 20 mussels, according to Simply Seafood -- contains 292 calories, or approximately 15 percent of your daily allowance on a 2,000-calorie diet. Slightly more than half of these calories, or 55 percent, come from the 40.5 grams of protein in the mussels. Just one serving provides 72 percent of the recommended protein intake for men and 88 percent for women. Each 6-ounce serving of steamed mussels also contains 7.6 grams of fat, which accounts for 23 percent of the calorie content. Of this, just 1.4 grams come from harmful saturated fat.

Selenium and Manganese

Mussels boast an impressive mineral content. Consuming 6 ounces of steamed mussels increases your selenium intake by 152.3 micrograms, while boosting your manganese intake by 11.6 milligrams. This meets your entire selenium and manganese requirements for the day. The manganese that's abundant in mussels helps your body synthesize sex hormones, regulates your blood sugar levels and controls blood clotting. The selenium in mussels maintains healthy immune function, and acts as an antioxidant to fight cellular damage.

Vitamins B-12 and C

Include mussels in your diet and you'll boost your vitamin consumption, particularly your intake of vitamins B-12 and C. Vitamin B-12 aids in mood regulation, plays a role in nerve communication and helps your body utilize iron. The vitamin C in mussels helps strengthen a range of tissues, including your ligaments and tendons, and maintains healthy teeth. Each 6-ounce serving of steamed mussels contains 23.1 milligrams of vitamin C -- which is 26 and 31 percent, respectively, of the daily vitamin C needs for men and women -- along with 40.8 micrograms of vitamin B-12, or your entire recommended daily intake.

Watch Out for Sodium and Cholesterol

Mussels are high in sodium, so you should consume them in moderation. Each 6-ounce serving contains 627 milligrams of sodium, which is 42 percent of your daily limit for sodium. Pay close attention to your sodium intake on the days you eat mussels, and avoid sodium-laden foods, such as processed and fast foods. Mussels also contain 95 milligrams of cholesterol, or 32 percent of the recommended daily limit. As a result, mussels might pose a health risk if you're sensitive to dietary cholesterol.

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