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Foodie Investigation#1: Shellfish


Callinectes sapidus

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The other day an old friend chastised me for the blue claw crab eating frenzy I was apart of  last weekend. I laughed it off but since he is a doctor, I decided to do a little research. This is what I found.

Blue claw crabs are the most popular species because of its sweet flaky meat but due to high levels of mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, the Environmental Defense Fund recommends that the adult diet should include blue crab no more that twice per month. Children 12 and younger should not eat blue crab more that once per month. I have no idea what the number of crabs in one serving are, but I’m sure I ate my share for the next few months.

This got me thinking about shellfish in general. Come to find out that there is a dirty dozen list for produce, there is also one for fish.

The below fish fail at least two of the criteria for safe and sustainable seafood. The five criteria are: contaminants; status of the stock; catch method or farming method; economic/ social/ cultural significance ( a community predominantly fishes for this species and depends on it); and key species ( it’s primary food source for other wildlife or does it create critical habitat for other wildlife).

  • Imported Catfish
  • Caviar from wild-caught Sturgeon
  • Atlantic Cod
  • American Eel
  • Atlantic Flounder
  • Sole, and Halibut
  • Imported  King Crab
  • Imported Shrimp
  • Farmed Salmon
  • Chilean Sea Bass
  • Shark
  • Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna

We have been told to steer clear from shellfish, shrimp and lobster because they have high cholesterol levels. That is right and wrong at the same time. There really are high levels of dietary cholesterol in shrimp- 3 ounces of steamed shrimp contain 166mg of cholesterol. However, saturated fat levels in shrimp are very low, and these are the fats mostly responsible for raising levels of blood cholesterol.

So, even though physicians have always advised us to avoid shellfish, new research is changing the minds of many people. Shrimp cholesterol and lobster cholesterol are increasingly being found to be more beneficial than harmful, especially in the case of the latter. A 3- ounce serving of lobster has low calorie and saturated fat levels and also has the lowest cholesterol levels out of all crustaceans. It only has 61mg of cholesterol compared with 166mg for shrimp and 80mg for crab.

So Dr. J thanks for making me do my homework. I’ll cut back on the blue claws. But I’m ok with that because I can still have my shellfish. A healthy foodie is indeed a happy foodie.

To read more go to http://www.ehow.com/facts_5589819_dangers-crabs-caught-atlantic-ocean. This is where I got my info.

Happy Eating.

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