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Oysters

This article is part of a larger article titled "100+ Healthiest Foods On Planet Earth."  Read it here.

Oysters Nutritional Information (per 100g)

Water: 89 g
Calories: 51 kcal
Protein: 5.7 g
Carbohydrate: 2.7 g
Sugars: 0.6 g
Fat: 1.7 g
Saturated fat: 0.5 g
Monounsaturated fat: 0.3 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.5 g
Cholesterol: 40 mg
Vitamin B2: 0.1 mg
Vitamin B3: 0.9 mg
Vitamin B9: 7 μg
Vitamin B12: 8.8 μg
Vitamin A: 13 μg
Vitamin E: 0.9 mg
Vitamin K: 1 μg
Calcium: 59 mg
Iron: 4.6 mg
Magnesium: 18 mg
Phosphorus: 97 mg
Potassium: 156 mg
Sodium: 85 mg
Zinc: 39.3 mg

Oysters are a bit of a surprising health food. These little molluscs are renowned as a tasty seafood delicacy, and are also fantastic in environmental terms. They also carry none of the ethical grey areas you might experience if you are, say, a shrimp, cod or caviar lover), and yet despite being delicious and having little environmental impact, oysters are also fantastic for your health! Eating oysters boosts libido, promotes weight loss, and may even provide some ethically minded people with some much needed B12.

(For those who are vegetarian/ vegan for ethical reasons, it should be noted that oysters have no central nervous system, and thus can be eaten without causing any of the suffering associated with the meat industry. Famous philosopher Peter Singer even said they could be eaten ethically in his book ‘Animal Liberation’. With there being no natural vegan sources of B-12, oysters are a really interesting alternative to supplements!)

Nutritionally, oysters are a wonder when it comes to two nutrients: vitamin B-12 and zinc. According to the USDA database, 100g of farmed oysters (about 7 medium oysters) contains 270% of your Daily Value (DV) of vitamin B-12 and 253% DV of zinc. That’s a huge amount! In addition, zinc is fantastic for the immune system (among other things), and B-12 is great for cognitive performance. Most important here, however, is the fact that both zinc and B-12 are easy to be deficient in, especially for those who lack meat in their diets. For those who want optimum zinc levels, without the ethical implications of eating meat, oysters are a great choice.

Oysters have even more health benefits than this. In addition to having 32% DV iron, rounding out the impressive amount of minerals contained in oysters, oysters are also fantastic for something else: weight loss. Oysters are a great weight loss food for three reasons: they’re mostly water, they’re low calorie, and they’re very high in protein! With just 59 calories in 100g and 5g of protein, oysters provide 5% of your DV of protein for around 3% DV of calories. The high protein and water content both increase satiety (the feeling of fullness), for only a few calories.

The final benefit we should discuss is oysters’ reputed aphrodisiac powers. Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence that oysters have unique libido-boosting powers. What oysters do have,however, is lots of zinc, which has been proven to increase libido and sexual performance, especially in men. So pack in those oysters!

There is one word of warning attached to all of this, however. Eating raw oysters is a fairly common practice in a number of places, but there is a lot of risk associated with this. Oysters absorb a lot of the minerals from near where they grow, but they also absorb any pollutants and other problematic substances where they live, so only buy from trusted sources. In addition, risks like those exposed by this article, which showed that three quarters of oysters grown in the UK contain the ‘winter vomiting bug’ norovirus should serve to make you careful about sourcing raw oysters.