When you compare mussels' nutrition facts with red meat, ounce for ounce, mussels contain fewer calories and less fat. Eating mussels can fit right into your healthy weight loss diet, while helping build up your immunity.
What are Mussels?
Mussels are bivalves, which mean they have a two-part hinged shell, and filter their food from the surrounding water. Mussels have beards, or clumps of threads, that are used to attach to gravel, seawalls and rocks. The shell of the mussel is blue-black, but this can range in color depending on species, according to the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference.
Although some types of mussels live in freshwater, it's the marine mussels from saltwater that you may find in the market, or served steamed and smothered in garlic and marinara sauce in a restaurant. The most commonly-eaten species is the blue mussel.
It's important that you eat mussels cooked. The Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference warns that partially-cooked mussels can increase your risk of illness if you have certain preexisting medical conditions, such as chronic illness of the liver, stomach, or blood, or if you have certain immune disorders.
Mussels Nutrition Facts
Mussels have an impressive nutritional profile. They are a good source of protein without a lot of calories from fat. According to the USDA, a 3-ounce serving of cooked blue mussels, weighing 85 grams, contains 146 calories with 20 grams of protein, or 40 percent of the recommended daily dose. When protein is broken down into amino acids, your body uses it to build and maintain the cells in your muscles, nerves, bones, skin and cartilage.
Compared with beef steak, mussels contain fewer calories, and only 3.8 grams of fat, or 6 percent of the recommended daily dose. A 3-ounce serving of beef steak contains 14.5 grams of total fat, roughly 22 percent of what the USDA recommends. Although you need fat in your diet for energy, Dietary Guidelines recommend that you limit your fat intake to between 20 and 35 percent of your daily caloric load.
The downside to eating a lot of mussels may come from their cholesterol content. Mussels contain 47.6 milligrams of cholesterol per 3 ounce serving. Although cholesterol is not inherently bad — your body needs it to build cells — too much cholesterol in your blood can increase the risk of cardiac arrest or stroke, according to the American Heart Association. If you have risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high blood sugar, you should monitor your cholesterol intake.
Get Benefits from Essential Minerals
The essential minerals that are included in mussels' nutritional profile are important for keeping you healthy. According to the USDA, some key minerals that are especially abundant in a 3-ounce serving of mussels include:
- Manganese: Providing 251 percent
of the recommended daily dose of manganese, mussels can help your body metabolize macronutrients, keep your bones healthy and assist in wound healing.
- Selenium: Mussels provide 138
percent of your daily dose of selenium, an antioxidant necessary for your immune
system, thyroid function and reproductive health.
- Iron: Mussels have considerable iron content, providing 32 percent of the recommended daily dose. Iron is needed for energy
production, red blood cell formation, healthy immunity, growth and development.
- Zinc: Important for wound
healing, taste and smell, and the function of your nervous system, zinc in
mussels — 21 percent of the recommended daily dose — is also necessary for growth and development.
- Phosphorus: Mussels provide 19 percent of the recommended daily dose of phosphorus, which your body needs for bone formation and hormone activation.
Other minerals in mussels include potassium, magnesium, calcium and copper.
B Vitamins For Energy
The group of B vitamins has an impact on your energy levels, cell metabolism, brain function and immune system. Thankfully, its easy to maintain these levels through your regular diet and mussels are a splendid source. According to the USDA, each 3-ounce serving of muscles contains:
Vitamin B12: Mussels are an extremely good source of vitamin B12, supplying 850 percent of the recommended daily dose. B12 is needed for the health of your blood cells, nervous system and DNA structure.
Riboflavin: With 27 percent of the
recommended daily dose
for riboflavin supplied by 3 ounces of mussels, your body can efficiently convert the food you eat into energy, and effectively construct new red blood cells.
Niacin, vitamin B5 and folate: Mussels contain 16 percent of the
recommended daily dose
for all of these vitamins, which are important for supplying energy to carry out many metabolic functions.
In addition, mussels contain vitamins A and C, which act as antioxidants to protect you from illness.
Fatty Acids and Heart Health
Although mussels are low in total fat, they contain health-promoting unsaturated fatty acids including omega 3 fat. A 3-ounce serving of cooked mussels provides 762 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, according to the USDA.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health points out that omega-3 fats don't reduce the risk of heart disease, but also confirms that eating 8 or more ounces of seafood each week is associated with a reduced risk of dying from a cardiovascular condition.
Omega-3 fatty acids may help protect your heart by reducing inflammation, decreasing triglycerides, lowering blood pressure, reducing blood clotting and preventing irregular heartbeats, according to a list published by the Mayo Clinic.
- Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference: "Mussels"
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Facts for Cooked Blue Mussels"
- MyFood Data: "Nutrition Comparison of Skirt Steak and Cooked Blue Mussels"
- Dietary Guidlines: "Daily Nutritional Goals for Age-Sex Groups Based on Dietary Reference Intakes and Dietary Guidelines Recommendations"
- American Heart Association: "New Guidelines: Cholesterol Should be on Everyone's Radar, Beginning Early in Life"
- FDA: "Vitamins and Minerals Chart"
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Omega-3 Supplements: In Depth"
- Dietary Guidelines: "Key Elements of Healthy Eating Patterns: About Seafood"
- Mayo Clinic: "Omega-3 in Fish: How Eating Fish Helps Your Heart"