WHAT IS OYSTER?
Oysters refer to several edible, marine, bivalve mollusks that belong to the Ostreidae family. Two common types include Pacific and Eastern oysters. They play a vital role in the ecosystem — they improve water quality by filtering pollutants out of the water and help provide suitable habitats for fish, invertebrates, and other shellfish.
Oysters have an irregularly shaped shell that contains the inner body, which is also known as meat. While many people are aware of the reported aphrodisiac properties of oysters, they are also highly nutritious and can provide some health benefits.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF OYSTER
1. EXCELLENT SOURCE OF PROTEIN
One hundred grams of oysters only offer seven grams of protein, but it is the per-calorie protein ratio that is particularly impressive.
On this note, oysters offer 7 grams of protein for only 68 calories, which rivals lean red meat for protein density.
Oysters also have an impressive protein efficiency ratio, biological value, and amino acid profile.
In plain English, this means that oysters offer a highly bioavailable and superior-quality source of protein.
2. RARE FOOD SOURCE OF VITAMIN D
Vitamin D functions as a hormone rather than a traditional vitamin, and it plays a crucial role in keeping the human body healthy.
Among its many functions, vitamin D promotes bone health and modulates cells, immune function, and inflammation. Also, it even has anti-cancer properties through its link with apoptosis.
Sunshine is the single best source of vitamin D, but we can also get it from our diet, and oysters are one of the best sources.
For instance, we can get 320 IU of vitamin D from 100 grams of oysters, which represents approximately 80% of the RDI.
Therefore, oysters are a great potential source of the vitamin for people who don’t get enough sun exposure, or for individuals living in countries with long and dark winters.
3. PACKED WITH VITAMIN B12
Vitamin B12 is important for maintaining healthy blood cells and nerves, and it plays an essential role in DNA synthesis.
When people think of vitamin B12, red meat usually comes to mind.
However, oysters offer far more of this nutrient than any typical meat, and only organ meats like liver can rival their B12 content.
4. VERY HIGH IN COPPER
Oysters are rich in copper, and they contain 4.5 mg of the mineral per 100 grams, which works out at 223% of the RDI.
Copper is an essential mineral with several functions in the body, and it is necessary for maintaining healthy bones, tissues, and organs.
Additionally, the human body requires an adequate copper intake for the proper functioning of iron.
Once again, except for organ meats, oysters are the top dietary source of copper.
For those looking to increase their copper intake, calamari is another excellent source of copper.
5. RICH SOURCE OF OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
Although not commonly referred to when discussing the benefits of omega 3, oysters offer a good source.
Per 100 grams, oysters provide around 672 mg of omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid, meaning that we need to get it from our diet, and it has several health-protective benefits.
In this regard, studies show that;
- Higher omega 3 intake lowers cardiovascular and all-cause mortality risk.
- Although the current evidence is unclear, consuming more omega 3 may beneficially impact cognitive health.
- Omega 3 has anti-inflammatory properties, and may indirectly decrease the risk of numerous inflammation-driven diseases.
- More dietary omega 3 can reduce the symptoms of metabolic syndrome (such as high blood pressure).
- While oily fish such as salmon and mackerel is the best source of omega 3, a serving of oysters provides a decent amount too.
6. EXTREMELY RICH IN ZINC
Zinc is an important mineral that has many functions in the human body.
Among these, zinc plays a crucial role in immunity, protein and DNA synthesis, and general growth and development.
Oysters offer a surprising amount of zinc, and they are the world’s best dietary source of the mineral.
One hundred grams of oysters provide an impressive 491% of the reference daily intake (RDI) for zinc.
For an example of how much this is, one single oyster offers around 50% of the RDI.
7. BOOST TESTOSTERONE LEVELS IN MEN
It isn’t difficult to hear claims that oysters have aphrodisiac properties.
I’m not sure if this is true, but it is possible that oysters may help to boost male testosterone levels.
For example, trials show that dietary zinc restriction results in a “significant decrease in serum testosterone concentrations”.
Further to this, in a study of 88 men, men with normal (rather than low) zinc status had significantly higher testosterone levels.
Since oysters contain almost 500% of the RDI for zinc per 100 grams, they will certainly boost zinc status in individuals with low levels.
8. POTENTIAL BENEFITS FOR HEART HEALTH
Due to the wide range of nutrients they contain, oysters may positively contribute to cardiovascular health.
Firstly, oysters are very high in zinc, which appears to play an essential role in cellular structure and maintaining optimal cardiovascular function.
Furthermore, population studies suggest that zinc deficiency may be a general risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Omega-3, also contained in oysters, may help to lower several risk factors for cardiovascular disease by decreasing triglycerides and improving HDL levels.
Oysters also offer several other nutrients that help to regulate blood pressure and relax arterial walls, such as potassium and magnesium.
9. OYSTERS ARE INCREDIBLY NUTRIENT DENSE
Lastly, probably the best thing about oysters is the incredible nutrient density they offer.
One hundred grams provides many multiples of the RDI for numerous essential vitamins and minerals.
All for only 68 calories.
Put simply, this makes oysters one of the most nutritious foods on earth.