Locations:
Search IconSearch

The Many Reasons to Love Oysters — Even If You Hate Them

The health benefits of these shelled beauties just might convert you

We’re diving right in to tell all about oysters — the shelled gems of the sea with their distinctive, chewy texture and salty, briny, fishy-fresh flavor. It’s a texture and taste you either totally love — or maybe won’t even float.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

If you’re already on board with oysters you’re already getting the benefit of enjoying a real delicacy. But have you ever wondered if oysters are good for you? Or if oysters have any health benefits?

If you’re not in the oyster camp yet, you might want to join now. Because they’ve got a lot more going for them than their unique sea-like flavor profile.

“Yes, oysters are very good for you,” according to preventive cardiology dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD.

“In fact, you probably didn’t know that it’s hard to beat all the health benefits of oysters from a nutritional standpoint,” she says.

7 Reasons to Love Oysters — Even If You Hate Them (Heart post)

Love ‘em because they’re low-cal

Oysters vary in size, based on the location they are coming from. Regardless they are extremely low in calories. In a serving of six medium-sized oysters (wild, raw or steamed) you’ll consume less than 50 calories. That’s 50 calories, total which makes them very heart-healthy. It’s no wonder people order them by the dozen.

Even breaded and fried (which we don’t recommend except for as an occasional splurge because that’s not heart-healthy, but is still a popular way to eat them) — six medium oysters contain just 175 calories.

High-five for being high in protein

Each oyster can have up to 2g of protein, depending on their size. That means a half-dozen oysters can give you around 12 grams of protein which is equivalent to about 2 oz of meat.

Eating oysters replenishes lost vitamins and nutrients

With age, men and women alike can become deficient in some of these vitamins and minerals. We may not eat enough foods containing important nutrients, or an illness or medication can affect our body’s ability to absorb some of the vital ones.

“Oysters can really pack a healthy punch,” Zumpano says. “Think of oysters as little shells full of nutrients.”

It turns out they’re a rich source of these key nutrients when eaten:

These are excellent benefits, especially for women over age 40. “As women get older they can really benefit from this entire list of minerals, especially copper and zinc, which can assist in preventing macular degeneration,” Zumpano says. Vitamin D is mainly obtained from sunlight exposure, although getting it from food is a safer way to reap the benefits of vitamin D.

Do oysters really ramp-up your romantic side?

And the question everyone really wants to know — are oysters an aphrodisiac?

The question of whether or not raw oysters can cause sexual arousal has lingered over the years. However, there is little, if any, scientific support for this assertion.

So why have oysters been so long associated with romantic lore? Perhaps, because oysters are high in zinc — a mineral important to sexual health. Oysters may also fill a nutrient deficit that contributes to impotence in some men.

Advertisement

“While there’s no mounting evidence that oysters alone will enhance your love life, you might eat them to love your body and to give it good fuel,” Zumpano says.

Psychologically that might be enough to make you feel like quite a catch — and where that leads is all in your court.

How to eat and prepare oysters healthily

There are other common questions about eating oysters. Are they alive when people eat them? How do you prepare oysters?

At restaurants, oysters are shucked or opened with a knife by prying the connective muscle at their base. They arrive on a glittering bed of crushed ice with a wide-open look inside their pearly shells. Some douse them in vinegary mignonette, brighten them up with a squeeze of lemon or a drop of hot sauce to spice things up.

And some take them as they come with their cold, salty-sea freshness as the only thing needed to slurp them down whole.

In most restaurants they likely aren’t alive when people eat them, but when served this way they’re most likely very fresh, raw or cooked.

If you make them at home, Zumpano offers some cooking suggestions.

“Steaming is healthiest and best because it will also help kill any harmful bacteria present. Avoid preparing them in unhealthy fats, such as butter, margarine or cream sauce. And try tossing them in an olive oil or tomato-based sauce for a light, fresh recipe that really compliments their flavor,” she says.

“Wrapping a new food into your diet can be a simple matter of learning why you should love it and then finding the right recipe — and these nutrient-rich shells are really worth a try,” Zumpano emphasizes.

Advertisement

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Person in an apron, kitchen carrying a loaf of sour dough bread on tray
July 12, 2024/Nutrition
Is Sourdough Bread Healthy for You?

Sourdough can be healthier than some other bread choices — but that doesn’t give it ‘health food’ status

Bowl of horseradish
July 8, 2024/Nutrition
4 Health Benefits of Horseradish

This spicy root helps fight cancer, bacteria and inflammation

An array of meatless foods in different vessels on table
July 5, 2024/Nutrition
Going Vegan 101: A Beginner’s Guide

The meatless, plant-based eating style has countless tasty and healthy options

Hands cupping bowl of greens, chickpeas, whole figs, halved and tofu
July 3, 2024/Nutrition
4 Health Benefits of Figs

Packed with fiber and nutrients, this flower — yep, flower! — is great for your blood sugar, heart and gut

Assorted whole-grain foods, fruits, vegetables and nuts
June 21, 2024/Nutrition
Eating for Energy: Foods That Fight Fatigue

What’s on your plate can either help power you through your day or put you in nap mode

Person standing in front of oversized nutrition label, reading it
June 19, 2024/Nutrition
What Can You Learn From a Nutrition Label?

Information on serving size, calories and nutrients can help you make healthy choices

Piles of sugar alcohol
June 17, 2024/Nutrition
What You Should Know About Sugar Alcohols

Often labeled as ‘diabetes-friendly’ or ‘calorie-free,’ these sugar substitutes warrant caution

Person prepping mason jars with meals
June 14, 2024/Nutrition
Should You Eat the Same Thing Every Day? Learn the Pros and Cons

Repeating your meals can help simplify meal planning and counting calories, but it could also lead to boredom and nutritional deficiencies

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims

Ad