Oysters have been a part of the human diet for thousands of years. They are one of the most delicious foods on Earth, many would agree, and they are highly nutritious.
One can enjoy oysters raw from the shell, grilled, steamed, fried, or added to dozens of different dishes and cuisines. They are often considered a gourmet food, and many people chose them for the first date, due to their aphrodisiac qualities.
Yet, did you know that oysters may still be alive when you are eating them? Namely, they are just freshly killer or raw when they arrive on our tables, due to several reasons.
First of all, keeping it alive preserves its freshness and maintains its taste, texture, and nutrients. When we buy oysters, they are typically kept alive on ice.
Moreover, they are “filter feeders”, and they absorb everything they find around them in the water, including bacteria and viruses. Therefore, to lower the risk of contamination, the oyster is kept alive as long as possible.
Yet, Alex Lewis, RD, LDN, says:
The risk for this type of contamination remains smaller in prevalence than other foodborne illness risks (like salmonella contamination with chicken).”
You should not worry about the safety of the consumption of oysters, as infections are fairly rare. Before they are served for us, they have been given a health certification, and have been cleaned.
They are kept in clean running water for at least 12 hours, to eliminate any potentially harmful contaminants.
They are low in calories, but high in nutrients. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which support brain health and fight inflammation in the body, and iron, which is vital for the transport of oxygen throughout the body.
Oysters are a rich source of selenium, zinc, vitamin B12, and vitamin D, all of which strengthen the immune system, lower cell damage, and regulate metabolism. A half-dozen oysters contain five grams of protein, with less than 1.5 grams of fat.
Oysters contain a powerful antioxidant, called 3,5-Dihydroxy-4-methoxybenzyl alcohol (DHMBA), which prevents oxidative stress, lowers inflammation, protects the liver from damage, reduces obesity and insulin resistance and fibrosis.
Oysters are also heart-healthy, and their consumption lowers blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks and stroke. They strengthen the bones, improve eye health, boosts the mood, and keep the hair, skin, and nails healthy.
They are an excellent choice when you want to lose weight, and boost your energy levels.
Oyster lovers should know that there are certain risks linked to their consumption, so make sure you follow these tips:
- Do not eat them if they have been already opened or damaged
- Throw any oyster that does not open during cooking
- Cooking completely kills bacteria that may be found in oysters
- Ask for a shellfish tag, as restaurants and retailers are demanded to keep it for 90 days after purchase. If the tag is over two weeks old, avoid those oysters
“Ideally, choose cooked oysters or be smart about eating raw oysters (making sure they are alive or freshly killed just prior to eating) and understand that there is some risk there.”
If you take all the necessary precautions, you can enjoy oysters and all the health benefits that come with them.