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By the Sea

by Tammera J. Karr, PhD

This last week I got to spend several days on the Oregon Coast – that meant enjoying the foods that are local of course.

Shellfish is one I have liked in small doses, primarily scallops and shrimp, but this year I have become a raw oyster lover, especially when they are local and fresh, as is the case on the Oregon and Washington coasts. There will be some of you wondering why anyone would want to eat any seafood raw? It has to do with a whole collection of sensations, taste, of course, is at the top, but the silky, sweet and smooth texture in your mouth overlayed with the zing of lemon and lime followed by the heat of chili sauce are the answer for me.

Next comes the health benefit of eating these foods fresh and raw from the sea – provided there isn’t a red tide, pollution and they are sustainably harvested. So let’s look at the Oyster.

willapa-pacific-oysters-large-10Nutritional Benefits Of Oysters
Oysters have long made up a part of the American diet — they’ve been consumed in Maine for thousands of years, according to the Maine Sea Grant, equally they are heavily featured in traditional diets of Pacific Coastal Americans. The eating of shellfish is a staple for hunter-gatherers along the Pacific coastlines; these high-quality, nutritious foods were more easy to obtain and vital in the health of the people who gathered them — and they have a place in a balanced meal plan for modern day man also. Oysters are naturally high in protein, essential vitamins and minerals including, iron, omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, zinc, and vitamin C.

A single 6-ounce portion of oysters contains 28 milligrams of zinc, 9 milligrams of iron and 131 micrograms of selenium — significantly more than the amount you need each day to maintain your health. All three minerals activate proteins essential for healthy cell function, and zinc also fights disease by promoting immune system health.

Many vitamins and minerals are damaged or destroyed during the cooking process, so eating these little nutrition giants raw provides a powerful punch in the nutrient department. A serving of oysters contains vitamin C — 13.6 milligrams, which is 15 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 18 percent of women. Keep in mind while this number looks low, it is 100% bio-available to your body, unlike many forms of inexpensive vitamin C. This vitamin activates coenzymes your body needs to make norepinephrine — a chemical essential for nerve function — and fights cardiovascular disease. The vitamin B-12 abundant in oysters also supports nerve function, and it might combat cancer development. Each 6-ounce portion of oysters provides more than 10 times your daily B-12 requirement.

Nutritional Benefits of Scallops
Sea scallops are equally nutritious – it is easy to ee why many of these nutrient packed foods were reserved for young men and women for the purpose of procreating the next generation. Scallops are a lean protein, and various vitamins and minerals. They are an excellent addition to a weight-management plan, as they’re low in calories. The flesh of this shellfish is slightly sweet and moist, and pairs well with garlic, onions, and herbs. When used in Asian cooking the smooth satin and tender feel of raw scallops on the mouth followed by their sweet taste is heavenly. A sensory delight when eaten with rice and wasabi.

Eating 3 ounces of steamed scallops gives you 18 grams of protein, with less than 1 gram of fat and only 94 calories. Your body requires amino acids from protein to maintain muscle mass, healthy tissues and body fluids. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin found in the flesh of scallops. A 3-ounce serving of scallops provides 1.8 micrograms of vitamin B12, which is 75 percent of the amount adults need per day. Your body relies on B12 for red-blood-cell formation, DNA synthesis, proper neurological function, and fat and protein metabolism. A 3-ounce serving of scallops gives you 18.4 micrograms of selenium, which is 26 percent of the recommended daily value, and 1.3 milligrams of zinc, which is 9 percent of the daily value. Selenium functions as an antioxidant in your body, and helps prevent damage from harmful free radicals. Zinc plays a part in more than 100 different enzyme reactions in your body and helps maintain your immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing and cell division.

So just in case you’re feeling daring and ready to try some of these traditional foods the native way, you’ll know they are one of nature’s perfect multi-vitamins for health. Please make sure of the quality of your shellfish before purchasing or harvesting them, and that you do not have a shellfish allergy. To learn more about sustainable fisheries, please check out the Sea Food Watch Consumer Guide.

To walking on the beach barefoot and good food.



Monterey Bay Aquarium