Due to their numerous health benefits, freshwater mussels have been consumed for thousands of years in coastal regions worldwide. They make a delicious complement to a hot seafood broth or pasta dish because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other essential nutrients. The shell of this shellfish is blue-black. The mussel is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals and has a tan color. Eating them could be a part of a balanced diet.
Worldwide, there are numerous varieties of mussels that can survive and thrive in both fresh and saltwater. These are a few examples of zebra mussels, blue mussels, snuffbox mussels, horse mussels, and rabbit foot mussels. Fish serve as hosts for the reproduction of freshwater mussels. Within a few hours, their larvae must adhere to a host fish; else, they will perish. Other bivalve mollusks depend on planktonic larvae to survive and flourish in a new habitat.
Mussels Nutrition Facts
What are Mussels?
Mussels are members of the mollusk family that can be found in fresh and saltwater environments. Blue mussels and green-lipped mussels are the two main varieties of mussels. Mussels are an elongated, asymmetrical variety of edible clams. The majority of them have spherical or oval-shaped shells. While the interior is silvery, their shells have muted colors, including shades of blue, brown, gray, and black. Their bodies, which are soft and spongy and appear pale, are what can be eaten. They taste chewy and grittier than usual.
Numerous mussel species may survive in saltwater or freshwater. They are typically found in shallow oceanic coastal locations or close to pond and lake borders. Because they generate water pearls, freshwater mussels are often not eaten. In Europe and the Pacific, mussels are a common fast food item and can be prepared in various ways, including baking, smoking, frying, grilling, and steaming. Mussels can be taken from the wild but are mostly raised for commercial purposes on farms.
What is the Difference Between Clams and Mussels?
Here are the differences between clams and mussels:
- They are tender when properly prepared yet have a chewy texture. They can be prepared in various ways, and due to their mild flavor, they may enjoy taking on the flavors of the food you are using to prepare them. Clams have a flavorful, salty taste. They taste fishy, but not in a bad or overpowering way.
- There are numerous ways to cook clams and mussels, including steaming, stuffing, baking, roasting, grilling, and stewing. Although clams are best known for clam chowder, steaming is the quickest and most popular way to prepare mussels (a soup of sorts). The clam can be consumed raw. However, mussels need to be cooked. On the other hand, claims remain above water and take longer to prepare.
- Clams and mussels have a high protein content, are low in calories and saturated fats, and offer all the essential amino acids you need, especially omega-3 fatty acids. There are differences between the types and amounts of nutrients found in mussels and clams, as well as between different species.
- Mussels lack clams’ vitamin C, calcium, vitamin B12, phosphate, potassium, and copper levels. Compared to mussels, clams have less vitamin B1, iron, selenium, folate, and magnesium.
In addition to their various flavors, they differ in other ways physically. Here are some mussels facts to clear up any confusion you may have about whether or not this shellfish is healthy for you.
Are Mussels Healthy?
Here are the health benefits of eating mussels:
Mussels support heart health since they are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids and low in total and saturated fat. The omega-3 fatty acids, especially those found in fish and shellfish, have been shown by a study by the American Heart Association to have cardioprotective properties. These heart-healthy unsaturated fatty acids cut blood triglyceride and fat levels, as well as the danger of developing irregular heartbeats, which lowers the risk of having a heart attack or passing away suddenly from heart disease.
Treatment for Arthritis
According to studies, those who ate a lot of green-lipped mussels, like the Maori people of New Zealand, had decreased rates of arthritis. In this way, dried GLM extracts are especially advantageous. It has been discovered to help treat rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Treatment for Joint Pains
The nutrients iron, betaine, and glycosaminoglycans like chondroitin sulfate are abundant in green mussels. It has been demonstrated that several of these chemicals help to reduce joint stiffness and discomfort.
Helps the Circulatory System
Regular green-lipped mussels may lower your risk of heart attack and other circulatory issues. They improve blood flow and reinforce artery walls to promote healthy muscles and critical organ circulation.
Bone & Teeth Health
Due to the high mineral content of mussels, eating them may make teeth and bones stronger structurally and give the surrounding tissues the support they need. There is—their enough research to back up this health advantage.
Immune System Health
Consuming green-lipped mussels frequently may increase your resistance to bacterial and viral infection. They also speed up and strengthen the production of antibodies, which aids in wound healing.
Healthy Nervous System
Green-lipped mussels may enhance nerve cell functioning throughout the body and positively impact cognitive processes by activating the muscles, tissues, and organs. More scientific study is necessary, though, to provide proof of mussels’ effects on the neural system.
May Improve Fertility
By raising the viscosity of the seminal fluid in males and the cervical mucus plug in women, green-lipped mussels are thought to improve fertility. There isn’t enough scientific data to back up this assertion, though.
Precautions to be Taken
Unquestionably healthful seafood includes mussels. This does not, however, negate the necessity of using caution when preparing and consuming them.
- Mussels are susceptible to bacterial infection, just like other shellfish. Because dead mussels degrade very quickly, only living mussels should be preferred.
- When touched, a dead mussel’s opening does not close. In addition, toxic algae frequently grow on mussels and accumulate in their tissues, making them unfit for ingestion. Such mussels can poison one with paralytic shellfish if consumed.
- Governmental organizations regulate and keep track of the number of algae found in mussels. To ensure their safety, it is advised to soak the mussels in fresh water for 20 minutes to remove sand before eating them. Use a sturdy brush to eliminate the extra sand and other debris.
- The safety of both commercial and home-harvested mussels depends on appropriate preparation and the health conditions present in fishing regions. Garlic and shallots are two substances that can be used to flavor mussels. Before cooking, please rinse them under cool running water and a quick towel dry.
Points to Consider Before Eating Mussels
Fish, shellfish, and mollusks can generally be eaten without risk as long as they are fresh and come from a secure environment. However, those who desire to exercise extra caution or vulnerable groups of people who are more susceptible to negative effects may decide to forego eating mussels. The following four points should be taken into account before eating raw or cooked mussels:
Doctors frequently advise pregnant women to avoid consuming raw seafood, shellfish, or mollusks, such as raw oysters, clams, and mussels. This advice applies to anybody who has a condition that impairs their digestion or lowers their immune system, not only pregnant women. Although there is a reduced danger when eating well-cooked mussels, it is always advisable to speak with your doctor beforehand.
While it’s possible for shells to break or become damaged during shipment, you should always throw injured mussels away to be safe. Only live, fresh mussels that have had their shells completely closed without cracks or dents are edible. Additionally, a mussel’s open shell indicates that it is dead and unfit for ingestion; reject any mussels that also meet this criterion.
Fresh mussels have a slight scent of the ocean or other body of water they were harvested from; before or after you prepare them, throw away the mussel if it smells like sewage. Bacteria spreads swiftly inside mussels due to their short shelf life, particularly after the mussel has passed away. Any mussels that smell unpleasant should be thrown away to avoid food poisoning and shellfish poisoning.
Time of Year
Mussels are only to be consumed during the months whose names begin with the letter “R,” according to common knowledge, although specialists question the validity of this restriction. The restriction initially only applied to oysters but also to clams and mussels over time. This assumption was made because red tides are common in summertime accumulations of very toxic algae that mussels and mollusks eat. The fish industry has implemented numerous protocols for monitoring, regulating, and inspecting mussels in response to these and other worries. However, consumers who desire to exercise extra caution may still decide to heed the mandate.
How to Eat Mussels?
There is a suitable way to clean, cook, and eat mussels once you’ve determined that doing so won’t put your health at risk.
- Clean the Mussels: Consume the mollusks within two days of buying them. If you’re not going to consume them immediately, keep them in the refrigerator. When it’s time to prepare the mussels, start by cleaning them well.
Hold each mussel under running water as you scrub the shell with a hard-bristled brush to remove debris or barnacles. Next, remove the beard, a hairy, bristly substance close to the shell’s hinge. Use napkins or paper towels to grasp the beard more effectively and peel it away. Any broken or open mussels must be thrown away since they are poisonous.
- Decide On a Dish: Some mussel recipes, like the French dish moules marinières, call for heating mussels while still inside their shells in white wine or broth. Some recipes ask for incorporating the meat into a soup or sauce, like seafood pasta. Examine the recipe you intend to use so you know the necessary preparation.
- Cook the Mussels: The mussels can be steamed, baked, grilled, or sautéed according to a specific recipe. Since steaming is a mild cooking method that enables the mussels to cook gently and open their shells gradually, most recipes call for it. How you prepare, mussels will be effective if the shells are open. Discard any unopened mussels after cooking since they could be dead and hazardous to eat.
- Remove the Mussel Meat: Use your fingers or a small object to fully pry one of the mussel shells if your recipe asks for the mussel meat without the shell. Using a little spoon, remove the mussel meat. Use one of the empty mussel shells to continue prying and scooping the remaining mussels.
- Eat the Mussels: Serve the mussels in a bowl with broth to make the traditional French dish moules marinières. As an alternative, combine the mollusks with spaghetti and other seafood components; add them to a chowder; or, for a unique take on mussels on the half shell, stuff the empty shells with mussel meat and toasted breadcrumbs.
By changing aquatic surroundings, mussels help make them better for themselves and other creatures. They connect and impact several trophic levels in the food chain.
Studies have shown that mussels recycle nutrients, provide structural habitat, stabilize sediments, and alter food webs to enhance the living conditions of other organisms.
Consider a situation where the population of mussels is reduced. In that circumstance, algae and other plankton may overpopulate, leading to algal blooms that prevent fish and other living things from getting enough oxygen and sunlight.