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April 25, 2020
Shellfish: is it worth adding them to my diet?

Do you consume shellfish and mollusks on your weekly menu? Is it something you would like to add more into your diet and if so, have you ever considered whether there are any benefits to our health or why it is worth having them in our diet? First of all, they can give us a lot of delicious dishes - some of which you will find below - and give us a lot of nutrients such as proteins, Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, as well as some of the B-complex vitamins, vitamin D, iron and zinc.

Which foods belong in this category?

By "shellfish" and ''mollusks'' we mean the exoskeleton-bearing aquatic invertebrates we consume as food. I know this probably doesn't help you that much. So, I'm going to talk to you about the ones that fall into these categories and that -of course- I like to cook and use in my recipes. Shrimps, mussels, octopus, squid, and cuttlefish are the ones I mainly use and which I think are familiar to all of you.

Has anyone told you to avoid them?

The truth is that, in the past, some of you may have heard that it is good to avoid them because they are rich in cholesterol. However, their reputation has been restored since -especially in recent years- scientists have argued that the fats that cause high cholesterol (LDL) are mainly saturated and trans fats, not cholesterol-rich foods.

Shall we take a closer look at what they offer us and what their health benefits are?

1. They are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Shellfish and mollusks contain "good fats" (Omega 3) that we want in our diet, as they have many benefits for our health. More specifically, these fats belong to the essential fatty acids since our body cannot synthesize them on its own, but it needs to get them through diet. Epidemiological studies have shown that these fats seem to help regulate blood pressure, as well as the proper function and development of the brain, spinal cord, and retina of the eye.

2. They are low in calories and not only… Shellfish and mollusks are a good source of protein and contain the necessary amino acids for the body. They are low in total and saturated fats, while they contain -as we’ve already mentioned above- the "good" Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Due to their protein and amino acid content, they make us feel full for a longer period of time and can be a very good meat substitute for those who love red meat. If you belong to this category and consume excessive amounts of red meat, then you should replace it with some of the above foods. Not only will you reduce calories and fats, but you will also be able to make delicious recipes.

3. They contain vitamins and minerals. Shellfish and mollusks contain most of the vitamins and more specifically they are a good source of niacin and vitamin B12 - both essential for the normal function of the body and the nervous system, as they are involved in energy production processes. They also contain selenium, iodine, potassium, copper, phosphorus, zinc and iron, essential elements for the proper functioning of the body, bone health, immune function, and energy production.

4. How often should we consume them? According to experts, it is good for shellfish, mollusks and fish - which are usually in the same category - to be consumed twice a week and of course to be part of a balanced diet.

5. "They offer us a happy and strong heart": What do I mean by that? That we want to be healthy and do our best to take care of the most basic muscle of our body, which is the muscle heart. So, eating shellfish and mollusks seem to reduce the chances of developing cardiovascular diseases and other chronic diseases as well.

So, what do you think of shellfish and mollusks? Will you include them in your diet? Check out the recipes below and try them to see if you like them or not! Of course, if you have any other health problems, you should consult your doctor or another specialist on what to eat and what not to eat. smiley


This article was written in collaboration with the Sports Nutritionist Anna Maria Volanaki, MSc, BDA, SENr.

*The above information is based on published research findings.

Octopus pasta salad

Octopus pasta salad by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

Kottu roti

Kottu Roti by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

Potato and calamari stew

Potato and calamari stew by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

Greek stuffed calamari

Greek stuffed calamari by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

Butter and lemon scallops

Butter and lemon scallops by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

This article was written in collaboration with the scietific advisor-sports nutritionist Anna Maria Volanaki, MSc, BDA, SENr, INDI.

The website offers as a service a variety of articles, based on scientific sources. All the articles are provided as general information and no text should be used as a substitute for advice from a physician or another health scientist, regardless of the date it has been published.

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