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How Shellfish Affects The Body

benefits of shellfish

How Shellfish Affects The Body

Shellfish are very nutritious and come with a wide variety of health benefits. However, many people have an allergy to shellfish that makes them unable to eat it. Regardless, it is important to know how much of it to eat and how it affects the body before you take a bite. Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of shellfish and some alternative foods with similar benefits.

What Are Shellfish

Just like the name suggests, shellfish are animals that live in the water and have a shell or shell-like surface on their exterior. Most of them live in salt water locations like the ocean, however, there are a few species that live in freshwater.

Shellfish can also be divided into two categories with these being crustaceans and mollusks. Crustaceans include animals like shrimp, crayfish (crawfish), lobster, and crab. On the other hand, scallops, clams, mussels, and oysters are all examples of mollusks.

Health Benefits Of Shellfish


For the low amount of calories that shellfish have, they are extremely nutritious. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) gives the following nutrients for 100g (3.5 ounces) of each shellfish.



In addition to having low fat and calories, with high amounts of protein, shellfish contain many other nutrients. Some of these include Calcium, Iron, Sodium, vitamin A, vitamin C, Potassium, Omega-3 fatty acids and many more. To find if your shellfish contains any of these nutrients, click the links in the table above, or search for it here on the USDA’s website.

Heart Health

As previously mentioned, shellfish contain a plethora of nutrients within a small serving size. One such nutrient is the Omega-3 fatty acids. The main Omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found in many plant foods while EPA and DHA are found in fish and other seafood like shellfish.

There are many studies that show that Omega-3 fatty acids have a link to a lower risk of heart disease. One study, conducted between 1986 and 1986 showed that, in 18,244 healthy men in Shanghai, China, those who ate more than 7 ounces (200g) of omega-3 fatty acid-rich shellfish each week were 59% less likely to die from a heart attack than those who ate less than 1.74 ounces (50g) each week. Other foods that are good for your heart are nuts, spinach, avocados, berries and much more.

Brain Health

Omega-3 fatty acids can not only be beneficial for your heart health, but they are also good for your brain too. The National Institutes of Health state that “Some, but not all, research shows that people who consume more omega-3s from food such as fish may have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other problems with cognitive function.”

One study published back in 2010 gave 485 older adults who had age-related cognitive decline either 900mg of DHA or a placebo every day. After the 24-week study was finished, those who were on the 900mg of DHA performed better on memory and learning tests than those who were on the placebo. Other foods that are good for your brain are berries, walnuts, dark chocolate and many more.

Weight Loss

The last of the benefits of shellfish is its ability to help with weight loss. As previously mentioned in the nutritious section, shellfish are low in calories and high in protein. This protein is also a lean protein meaning that they are great foods for people trying to lose weight. This is due to protein-rich foods keeping you feeling full and satisfied. This can prevent you from eating excess calories. If you have an allergy to shellfish there are still foods that contain the same properties. Check out this article to learn about some Foods to Boost your Metabolism.

Side Effects & Concerns

When it comes to the side effects of shellfish, there are not a lot of concerns to worry about. The main concern is if you have an allergy to shellfish. If you do, it is important to avoid them completely, as well as any product that may contain it. If your family has a history of allergies you should talk to your doctor before eating it, or feeding it to one of your younger children. The other concern is if you are consuming too much of them. While they may be considered a healthy food with all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, too much can be bad. Try to get around at least 2 portions of seafood each week.


There are many different health benefits of shellfish that you can receive if you eat the food. However, it is important to know that if you have an allergy, there are other foods that are available to get the same benefits. Lastly, it is also important to not consume shellfish excessively as too much can be a bad thing.