I was introduced to this wonderful, slippery food when I was four years old while at the beach. From my first taste I was hooked. My daddy would spear that oyster with the tiny little fork, squeeze a little lemon on it, dip it in cocktail sauce and plop it on a Saltine cracker. There was nothing better! I have so many memories of sharing raw oysters with him. Sometimes he would bring them home from the fish market, call me up to the kitchen and we’d have our own little oyster feast. I even had my first little sip of Heineken beer while eating some of those oysters.
Lately, I’ve been ordering oysters while out because, first of all, I love them. Secondly, they are light and cold in the heat. Thirdly, I know they are full of protein and low in calories, and lastly, I just love them. Before I did too much damage I figured I would look at the oyster and see how they really stack up in the nutritional area.
I am thrilled to report that whether you like them raw, baked, boiled, or grilled, oysters are a nutritional powerhouse! (Notice I left out fried because I’m thinking the frying would counter all of the good effects of the oysters!) I might even venture to include them in that mysterious and ever-changing list of “super foods”! Here are some of the benefits I found:
Oysters are loaded with zinc – more than any other food, in fact. Zinc strengthens the immune system and promotes healing. They are heart healthy – high in omega 3 fatty acids which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and help lower blood pressure. They are a great source of protein, low in calories and low in fat. They also contain vitamins A, E and C, iron, calcium and vitamin B12. They contain iron which helps give the body more energy. This one was a new one to me: oysters can help lower cholesterol by raising the HDLs, the good cholesterol, and lowering the LDL’s, the bad cholesterol.
There was always that saying that you shouldn’t eat oysters in “non R” months of the year. Well, that was before there were these wonderful refrigeration systems that keep the oysters cool and safe during the warm months of May through August. Further, one interesting tidbit I learned is that eating oysters is also environmentally friendly. They are well-managed, caught and farmed in environmentally friendly ways.
This is all good news to me. I can keep on ordering, folks can keep on shucking and we can keep on eating one of my favorite foods! Whether it’s really that I like the taste and texture of an oyster sliding down or whether it’s more about the process, atmosphere, the event and the memories, I’m not sure. Sometimes I think it’s about all of those things coming together just perfectly to make a food a favorite.
For more info check out : LiveStrong, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch List, Mother Nature Network, Wikipedia