Oysters are a type of mollusk classified as bivalve marine creatures due to their characteristic, two-halved shells. Oysters can often be found close to the shore, so they are a popular type of seafood in many coastal regions. Oysters offer a number of nutritional benefits, but they aren't ideal for all diet plans, so you may find that the nutritional profile of oysters isn't beneficial for you. Note that some cooking methods, such as frying, may significantly alter the nutrition facts.
Low in Calories
If you're watching your weight, oysters can be beneficial because they are low in calories. A 3 oz. serving of cooked oysters provides just 67 calories, which is much less than many other types of seafood, such as salmon, which contains 253 calories in a 3 oz. baked fillet.
Relatively Low in Protein
A 3 oz. serving of oysters contains 6 g of protein. While this is more than some other foods -- many fruits, for example -- it is relatively low for seafood. If you want to increase your protein intake, consuming fish such as tilapia would be more beneficial. A 3 oz. serving of tilapia provides 21 g of protein.
Low in Fat
One benefit of oysters is that they are low in fat. A 3 oz. serving of cooked oysters contains less than 2 g of fat. Of this fat, about .5 g comes from saturated fat. Eating too much saturated fat can be unhealthy, as a diet rich in this type of fat can increase your risk of heart disease. To reduce this risk, the American Heart Association recommends limiting daily intake to 16 g or less.
Lack of Fiber
Although oysters provide carbohydrates, they don't provide any dietary fiber. Even those on low-carbohydrate diets should consume fiber, as the nutrient promotes satiety, a healthy digestive system and stable blood sugar levels.
Rich in Zinc
Oysters can be beneficial because they're rich in zinc. A 3 oz. serving of oysters provides more than three times the daily suggested intake of this nutrient, 11 g for adult men, which is vital for a healthy immune system and the proper function of your body's enzymes.
Low in Vitamins
Oysters aren't a rich source of vitamins, as they contain very low levels of vitamin A, B-12 and C, and provide no vitamin D or vitamin K.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Mollusks, Oyster, Eastern, Farmed, Cooked, Dry Heat
- LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate: Calories in Baked Salmon
- LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate: Calories in Tilapia Fish
- American Heart Association; Knowing Your Fats; September 2010
- Mayo Clinic; Dietary Fiber: Essential For a Healthy Diet; November 2009
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements; Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Zinc; June 2011