YOU ALREADY know that you should eat more seafood to improve your health.
Current USDA dietary guidelines set a goal of at least 8 ounces of seafood weekly in order to reap the nutritional benefits.
And, as a registered dietitian, I know these benefits well because I preach them to my clients. Seafood offers lean protein, for a reasonable amount of calories, and many varieties are high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, as well as various other vitamins and minerals.
But when it comes to seafood, I’m so sick of hearing about salmon and tuna, salmon and tuna. With shrimp, that trio makes up North America’s most popular seafood.
There is nothing wrong with salmon and tuna from a nutritional standpoint, it’s just that there is a class of seafood that is underrated and unsung.
I’m talking about mussels, oysters, clams, scallops and shellfish …bivalves.
Bivalves are packed with nutrients and protein, offer tons of flavor, and are incredibly sustainable.
“I see canned clams as a final win for everyone,” says registered dietitian, Kate Geagan. “Canned mussels, clams and even oysters are for eaters looking for affordable, versatile, healthy proteins that are also sustainable. Each sits further down the food chain, helps clean our waterways, and creates more diverse and resilient coastal ecosystems. Bite after bite, none of the farmed bivalves require any inputs and each offers a bevy of beneficial nutrients such as omega 3, vitamin B12, zinc and iron. “
But it is not only the nutritional density of the bivalves that makes them winners. Bivalves are like filters for the ocean, cleaning the water, adding oxygen to the bottom water and building proteins with the nutrients they absorb while sequestering the carbon to build their own shells without the need for a single input.
Additionally, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, they also help control algal blooms, provide habitat for other marine life, filter excess nitrogen, biotoxins, and pathogenic microorganisms from the water.
They are like the Supermen of the rivers.
Sure, bivalves can be a little intimidating if you haven’t grown up eating them. And you may think they are expensive, fancy, or difficult to make.
So here’s a solution to all of this: try them in jars or canned.
Tossing canned clams into a plate of pasta or snacking on smoked mussels with crackers can be easy ways to start incorporating these foods into your diet. (Our 12-year-old daughter also surprised us all when she, after trying canned mussels, she now regularly asks for them as an after-school snack.)
This is likely also due to the tasty, high-quality options created by some artisanal fish canneries, one of which is Scout, a game-changing company with chef-inspired artisanal recipes inside each can.
Adam Bent, co-founder and CEO of the company, explains how SCOUT is making a sensation with canned seafood: “Built on the heritage of the fishing industry, where canneries were a staple in coastal fishing communities across the country. North America and local fishermen bring their catch to be preserved, just like an open delicatessen.
Or, should we say, SEAcuterie. (Sorry.)
Bivalves offer an overlooked protein to consumers and are one of my top choices from a health and sustainability perspective. If you’re looking for portable, sustainable, and delicious whole-grain protein that can create a fine dining experience or an easy, on-the-go snacking experience, do as my daughter does and head out to sea.
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