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Are Oysters Good for You?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 06/19/2018

Oysters are a delicacy with impressive health benefits. Oysters are extremely good for you—if you aren’t already an oyster fan, you should seriously consider adding oysters to your menu plan.


Discover why oysters are an excellent choice for your health and how you can incorporate this delicious and highly nutritious seafood into your keto lifestyle. 

Medium-sized oysters

Are oysters healthy?


Oysters are a type of bivalve mollusk found across the globe in brackish and marine waters. While many people like eating raw oysters, they also taste delicious grilled, fried, or steamed. 


Regardless of how you prefer your oysters, there is no denying that they are a nutritional superfood in their own right. Oysters contain omega-3 fatty acids, essential vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants. 


And, what's more, oysters are a rich source of several nutrients that many people are commonly deficient in, including vitamin D, iodine, iron, zinc, and selenium.  


Oyster nutrition facts

Oysters are incredibly healthy. They’re low in calories, provide good-quality protein, and are packed with heart-healthy fats. 


A serving of six medium oysters provides:

 

  • 50 calories

  • 1 g total fat

  • 6 g protein

  • 5 g total carbs

    • 0 g fiber

    • 5 g net carbs


Oysters also are rich sources of other micronutrients, including:



Watch the video below to hear more about oysters' exceptional health benefits.

Seven health benefits of oysters


Oysters are amongst the most nutritious foods on the planet. A serving of half a dozen oysters provides more than four times your daily requirements of vitamin B12, zinc, and copper.  


Oyster consumption doesn't just promote healthy nutrient levels. Research found that regularly eating oysters boosts blood circulation, improves metabolic and cardiovascular health, and promotes weight loss and healthy immune function.  


Oysters' many health benefits are hard to ignore—here are seven reasons why you should enjoy oysters regularly.


1. Supports heart health 

Oysters are a rich source of potent antioxidants, including vitamin E and selenium. The antioxidant properties of oysters protect your blood vessels from harmful oxidation and reduce arterial plaque accumulation linked to high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. 


Seafood, including oysters, is rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which support healthy cholesterol levels, improve cardiovascular health, and are beneficial for lowering blood pressure. 


2. Promotes bone health 

Regular shellfish consumption promotes bone health and lowers the risk of osteoporosis. Oysters and other crustaceans contain several nutrients needed for forming and maintaining healthy bones.


Vitamin D, iron, calcium, selenium, and phosphorus in oysters all play essential roles in forming bone matrix, the substance in your bones that give your bones strength and rigidity. 


3. Increases circulation

The high amounts of magnesium and potassium in oysters promote healthy blood pressure and increase blood circulation and oxygenation. 


Healthy circulation helps your body to carry oxygen to organs and tissues, which supports brain health, increases your energy levels, and boosts your metabolic rate.

Fresh oyster

4. Supports a strong immune system

Oysters contain more zinc than any other food. Zinc is an essential mineral that strengthens your body’s immune system and helps your immune cells to function efficiently. 


A zinc deficiency commonly results in compromised immunity and an increased risk of infection.


A serving of 3.5 ounces of oysters delivers more than 400% of your daily zinc requirements, making oysters a perfect option to maintain healthy zinc levels and promote a strong immune system.


5. Reduces the risk of cancer 

Research suggests that oysters and other marine organisms can lower the risk of developing certain cancers, including lung, breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers. 


It's believed that oysters' potent antioxidant properties, in combination with immune-strengthening nutrients, promote the early detection and destruction of precancerous cells.


6. Promotes reproductive health 

Oysters are well-known aphrodisiacs and have been used to promote fertility for centuries. Oysters’ benefits for reproductive health are mainly due to their exceptionally high amounts of zinc. 


A zinc deficiency directly impacts reproductive health and can lower fertility, especially in men. 


Zinc promotes healthy sperm density, motility, and quality. It also protects male reproductive organs from damage from harmful oxidation, which supports reproductive health.


7. Promotes wound healing 

Oysters are rich in nutrients critical for your body's ability to heal. Zinc and vitamin C play crucial roles in wound healing and cellular renewal. 


Zinc strengthens your immune system and protects you from microbes and bacterial infections. Vitamin C is directly involved in forming collagen, which promotes wound healing and supports new blood vessel formation.  

Six medium-sized oysters

How to include oysters in your diet 


Whether you eat raw oysters or prefer cooked oysters, they’re an excellent keto-friendly food. They’re even on our Healthy Keto® food list.


If fresh oysters aren't available, canned oysters are a healthy alternative and provide the same nutrients as fresh oysters.


Oysters are incredibly nutritious and healthy. However, excessive amounts of oysters can have potential health risks. 


It's best to enjoy oysters no more than once a week to avoid zinc toxicity and limit your exposure to chemical contaminants, including heavy metals such as lead and mercury.


Raw or undercooked oysters can contain vibrio bacteria. These harmful bacteria can cause food poisoning and severe illness in young children, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems and liver disease.

Fresh oysters with lemon juice

Key takeaways


If you want to support your health and well-being, oysters are an incredibly nutritious food that should regularly feature on your menu plan. 


Oysters are nutritional powerhouses packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, oysters are the top food source of zinc, an essential mineral that promotes reproductive health and supports your immune system.


Raw oysters are a popular delicacy. However, pregnant women and individuals with compromised immune systems should avoid raw and undercooked oysters to reduce the risk of food poisoning. 



FAQ


1. Are oysters healthy?

Yes! The many health benefits of oysters are hard to ignore. Oysters are rich sources of essential nutrients, healthy fats, and antioxidants. 


Regular oyster consumption promotes healthy cholesterol levels, lowers blood pressure, improves cardiovascular health and immune functioning, and may lower your risk of developing certain cancers, including breast, lung, and colorectal cancer. 


2. Can I eat oysters on keto?

Yes, oysters are one of the most nutritious keto-approved foods. Oysters are low-carb, contain healthy fatty acids, and are a complete source of protein, providing all nine essential amino acids.

 

3. Do oysters contain mercury?

Yes, oysters are saltwater bivalve mollusks that feed by filtering water which can cause the accumulation of heavy metals, including lead, cadmium, and mercury. However, compared to other seafood, oysters are relatively low in mercury, and enjoying oysters once a week won't pose any health risks. 


4. What are the benefits of eating oysters?

Incorporating oysters into your diet is an excellent choice for your health. Oysters are incredibly nutritious and provide several nutrients that many people are commonly deficient in, including vitamin D, iodine, iron, zinc, and selenium.


Oysters support healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, promote circulation and heart health, strengthen your immune system, and may lower your cancer risk. 


5. How often can I eat oysters?

Oysters are highly nutritious, and regular consumption promotes health and well-being. However, excessive oyster consumption can increase your exposure to contaminants, including heavy metals such as mercury and lead. 


Enjoying oysters once a week won't pose health risks and lets you take advantage of oysters' many health benefits. 


6. Are oysters good for weight loss?

Yes, oysters are great for weight loss. Oysters are low in carbs and incredibly low in calories. They contain healthy fats and high-quality protein, supporting satiety and helping with weight loss.


7. Are raw oysters healthier than cooked oysters?

Cooked oysters provide you with the same nutrients and health benefits as raw oysters. However, raw oysters can contain contaminants, including microbes and bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Pregnant women, young children, and people with compromised immune systems should avoid eating raw oysters.

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