High in protein and succulent flavor, the calories in scallops are low, allowing you to enjoy such delicacies while benefiting from their nutrition. Sea scallops lend themselves to cooking methods that won't add fat. You can sear or grill these tender mollusks without loading up on the butter.
Five large sea scallops have 89 calories. One boiled or steamed scallop contains approximately 18 calories.
Calories in Scallops
For anyone looking to add healthy seafood to their diet, sea scallops provide high nutritional value in exchange for low caloric content. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a serving of five large sea scallops has 89 calories, with each scallop containing about 18 calories. To put this in perspective with a more popular seafood option, shrimp calories number 40 for a half-cup, per the USDA.
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Scallops offer high protein content, are low in fat and provide a rich assortment of essential micronutrients. The nutrient breakdown for five sea scallops is as follows:
- 15.6 grams of protein to build and repair tissues and make enzymes and hormones in the body
- 41.8 grams of water, as scallops provide necessary hydration
- 4.12 grams of carbs in scallops, making this seafood a low-carb food choice
- 238.5 milligrams of potassium for regulating fluid balance and muscle contractions
- 84 milligrams of total choline to keep your nervous system healthy and your heartbeat strong
- 324.5 milligrams of phosphorus, which plays a vital role in creating protein for growth and repairing cells and tissues
Five sea scallops also contain less than 0.6 grams of total lipid fats and less than 0.2 grams of total saturated fat, making this a low-fat, lean protein option. Scallops offer other vitamins such as vitamin B12, vitamin A and vitamin B-6, and trace amounts of minerals such as folic acid, niacin, thiamine and riboflavin.
Are Scallops Healthy and Safe?
People often become wary about eating too much seafood. Here's what you need to know about scallops to tame your fears:
They are safe to eat. According to the January 27, 2017, edition of Consumer Reports, scallops offer one of the lowest levels of mercury for fish. A 132-pound woman can safety eat up to 36 ounces of scallops each week, and a 44-pound child can eat up to 18 ounces. Pregnant people should speak with their doctors before adding any type of mercury to their diets, however.
You can cook this seafood in healthy ways. Although when you eat seafood, you might typically consume lobster dipped in melted butter, you can cook sea scallops using healthy cooking methods. To keep sea scallops low in calories and fat, you can sear them by heating heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) in a frying pain.
Many people think they shouldn't cook with EVOO, but according to a June 2018 study in ACTA Scientific Nutritional Health Journal, EVOO was found to be the most stable cooking oil, even when tested against canola, grapeseed and coconut oil and in high heat.
You can also grill scallops on a skewer at a medium heat so they don't dry out and become tough, but make sure the flesh turns a pearly color so that they are safe to eat, per FoodSafety.gov.
You should know what to look for when shopping. Fresh scallops will have a creamy color and shouldn't have a fishy smell, but rather a faint sweetish aroma. You should also cook and eat them fresh within 24 hours, and don't keep fish refrigerated for more than two days after purchase, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
- United States Department of Agriculture: “Scallops, Steamed or Boiled”
- United States Department of Agriculture: “Shrimp”
- Consumer Reports: “Which Fish Are Safe for Pregnant Women?”
- ACTA Scientific Nutritional Health Journal: "Evaluation of Chemical and Physical Changes in Different Commercial Oils During Heating"
- Foodsafety.gov: "Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Charts"
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration: "Selecting and Serving Fresh and Frozen Seafood Safely"