6 Mussel Nutrients That You Probably Didn’t Know About

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A mussel is full of nutrients that are beneficial for your health. Mussels are an excellent source of protein, vitamin C and zinc. They are also a good source of potassium, selenium, copper, vitamin B12, and folate.

Besides being nutritious, mussels are also very delicious. They can be eaten raw or added to other foods like soups, stews, and even pasta dishes.

This article discusses the nutrients present in a mussel, what it is, its potential risks and side effects, and more. Let’s get started.

What Is a Mussel?

A mussel is a type of shellfish that can be found in oceans, lakes, rivers, and other water sources. It’s a popular seafood item in Europe, where it’s also known as a “bivalve.”

Mussel meat is tender, rich in nutrients, and has a slightly salty flavor. The flavor of mussels also depends on their type (blue mussels are milder than green or black ones).

Mussels are available year-round in supermarkets and at seafood markets. You can also find them at farmer’s markets or directly from fishermen along the coast.

Mussel Nutrients

1. Protein

Mussels are an excellent source of protein. Mussels contain about 24 grams of protein per 100 grams, which is more than most other seafood options.

Protein helps you meet your daily needs for amino acids while helping with the growth, repair, and maintenance of your body tissues. It also helps keep your immune system healthy and aids in the production of antibodies to help fight infection.

2. Fat

Fat is also one of the many nutrients in mussel meat. Mussels are low in fat, about 4 grams per 100 grams of cooked weight. This means that you can eat as many as five servings of mussels without exceeding your daily fat intake requirements.

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3. Carbohydrates

Mussels contain around 7 grams of carbohydrates per 100-gram serving. Carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet because they provide energy. They also play a role in many biological processes, including digestion and the absorption of other nutrients.

4. Calories

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, a 3.5-ounce serving (100 grams) of cooked mussels has about 172 calories. This means that you can get all the nutritional benefits from eating mussels without worrying about losing weight.

5. Vitamins

Mussels are rich in several vitamins, including:

Vitamin C

Mussels are a rich source of vitamin C, providing about 14% of the daily value in a single serving. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron from plant foods like legumes and grains. It also supports your immune system and plays a role in preventing cancer and eye diseases such as cataracts.

Vitamin A

Mussels provide about 10% of the daily value of vitamin A in just one serving. Vitamin A is crucial for cell growth, immune function, bone health, and reproduction.

Vitamin E

There is also some amount of vitamin E (about 7% DV) present in mussels. Vitamin E helps boost immune function while strengthening bones, muscles, and teeth.

B vitamins

Mussels also provide about 1000% of the daily value of vitamin B12 in just one serving. Vitamin B12 helps your body make red blood cells while preventing memory loss by keeping your brain cells functioning properly.

Mussels also contain trace amounts of other B vitamins, such as folate (B9), thiamin (B1), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), and pyridoxine (B6). These vitamins play an important role in energy metabolism and brain function.

SEE: Here’s How to Preserve oysters and Make Them Last Longer

6. Minerals

Mussels are rich in several minerals, including:

Zinc

Mussels are a good source of zinc, with one serving providing over 24% of your daily value. Zinc is important for growth and development, immunity, and reproduction. It also helps maintain the function of your skin’s barrier, which keeps moisture in your skin, so it doesn’t dry out.

Iron

Mussels are also an excellent source of iron, providing about 37% of your daily value in just one serving.

Iron is a mineral that helps transport oxygen throughout your body and is necessary for healthy red blood cells. Iron deficiency can lead to weakness, fatigue, and shortness of breath, so it’s important to have enough in your diet.

Manganese

One serving of mussels provides 296% of your daily value for manganese. Your body needs manganese to produce energy, build strong bones, and promote normal growth.

SEE: Here’s How You Should Freeze Mussels to Preserve Them

Selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral that helps protect against heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. It also promotes thyroid health and helps maintain healthy skin and hair. Mussels contain up to 165% of your daily value for selenium per serving.

Copper

Mussels provide over 16% of the daily value for copper in just one serving. Copper is important for blood circulation because it helps cells make the red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body.

It also supports brain health by helping neurons send signals between cells in the nervous system. Mussel eaters may be less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease because they get more copper in their diet than people who don’t eat mussels.

Phosphorus

Mussels are also a good source of phosphorus, with about 37% of the daily value for phosphorus in one serving. Phosphorus helps maintain healthy bones and teeth while helping with other functions like the repair of cells and tissues.

Mussels also contain trace amounts of other minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium.

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Risks and Side Effects of Eating Mussels

Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP)

PSP is caused by toxins produced by planktonic algae called dinoflagellates, which can get into mussels when they filter seawater for food. This toxin can cause numbness of the mouth and lips, tingling of the lips and tongue, dizziness, weakness, or paralysis.

Bacterial contamination

Another risk associated with eating mussels is the possibility of bacterial contamination. This can cause food poisoning or other illnesses that can be dangerous for anyone who eats them.

Mussels can also harbor parasites called spirochetes that cause treponematosis, also known as pinta disease. Symptoms include fever and skin lesions on the palms and soles of the feet that resemble smallpox scars.

Lead poisoning

Some mussels also contain heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury, and lead, which can be toxic if you consume them in large quantities. The risk is greater for children, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems.  

Mussels also contain purines, which may cause gout or kidney stones in some people. If you’re at risk for gout or kidney stones, avoid eating mussels entirely or limit your intake to 1 serving per week.  

Allergic reactions  

Another concern is allergies to mussels. You might be allergic to mussels if you’re allergic to other seafood like clams or oysters. Allergic reactions may include hives, swelling of the lips or face, itching, or difficult breathing.

If you have allergies to seafood, don’t eat mussels without talking to your doctor first.

SEE: Food Poisoning Signs You Probably Didn’t Know About

FAQs

Do mussels go bad?

Yes, they do. Mussel meat is very perishable and should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. If you cannot eat them immediately, refrigerate them.

You can also freeze mussels that you want to keep longer. This will prevent them from becoming mushy or developing an off-flavor.  

Can you eat raw mussels?

Yes, you can. Mussels are often eaten raw, but you can also prepare them by steaming, boiling, or frying. They can be served in a variety of ways: as an appetizer with melted butter and garlic; in soups; or in salads and sandwiches.

Are mussels healthy?

Yes, they are. Mussels provide many health benefits, including protein, zinc, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. Mussels also contain B-complex vitamins such as folate, niacin and B12, and vitamin C.

Can mussels prevent cancer?

Yes, they can. Mussels contain selenium, an important mineral that helps protect against oxidative stress in the body, thereby lowering your risk of developing cancer. Mussels provide 165% DV for selenium per serving size — one of the highest levels among seafood options.

Can you get sick from eating mussels?  

Yes, you can. Mussels carry bacteria that can cause foodborne illness when handled improperly. Symptoms may include hives, swelling of the lips or face, itching, or difficulty breathing.

If you notice any of these symptoms after eating mussels, contact your doctor right away.

Conclusion

Mussel meat is rich in multiple nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, fat, and calories. It also contains vitamins such as vitamin A and C and minerals such as iron and selenium.

Mussels are safe to eat, but they should be avoided by people with shellfish allergies. Also, they can be contaminated with heavy metals, toxins, or bacteria that cause food poisoning. If you have any concerns about eating mussels, talk to your doctor first.

Thanks for reading.

Visit Cheffist to learn more about the nutrients in mussel meat and other seafood.