Farm-raised mussels and clams are not only healthy to eat, they are good for the ocean environment. Farm-raised mussels grow on ropes that not only keep the mussels off the floor, but also minimize the potential of loss from predators. Similarly, farm-raised clams are also placed near ropes, or in mesh or plastic trays.
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This suspension method enables the shellfish to clean the surrounding water, as their feeding method involves remove particles and nutrients that float through water. In addition, suspension in the water makes them easier to harvest and minimizes habitat destruction.
While suspension is a good tool, overly populated fishing farms can lead to too much waste. In addition, clam and mussel species may not be native to the area in which they are farmed, and may crowed out native species. To avoid buying clams or mussels that are not farmed in a healthy manner, check the Monterey Bay Aquarium's (montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx) list of seafood choices to ensure your selection is sustainably farmed.
Assuming your mussels and clams are sustainably farmed, the shellfish are also part of a healthy diet. Zinc, a mineral that your body cannot store, is available in large amounts in both of these shellfish. Mussels have .81 mg and clams have 2.32 mg per 3-oz. serving. In addition, the shellfish are low in cholesterol, fat and calories. Mussels have just 48 mg of cholesterol, 3.8 g of fat and 147 calories per 3-oz. serving. Clams, in a 3-oz. serving, have 57 mg of cholesterol, 1.65 g of fat and 126 calories.
Buying Clams and Mussels
When purchasing these shellfish, look for fish that are labeled as sustainably farmed. In addition, have the clerk inspect the clams and mussels to ensure that the shells are not broken or cracked, as these shellfish are unsafe to eat and should be discarded. Keep the shellfish on ice or return home immediately to scrub them and store them in the refrigerator on a dampened towel. Do not place them in plastic bags or airtight containers.