Thursday, August 29, 2013



1. Heart Health Benefits

Do you eat fish or seafood at least twice per week? That's the recommendation from the American Heart Association. Fish and seafood are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and eating fish and seafood is linked to lower rates of heart disease. Even though crabs are low in total fat, they are still a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. A three-ounce portion of cooked crab has about 300-500 milligrams of the healthy fats. That's about the daily amount recommended for healthy people. Crabs are also a lean protein source. And although they do contain cholesterol, crabs are very low in saturated fat, which is more important than cholesterol for maintaining healthy blood lipids.

2. Contaminants a Concern

You might want to think twice before downing too many hard shells this summer season. According to the Environmental Defense Fund's Seafood Selector, you should eat blue crabs (from the Eastern US seaboard) no more than twice per month. Levels of mercury and PCBs may be too high to make more frequent meals safe. Dungeness crabs (from the Pacific coast) have no similar limitations. Snow crabs (King crab legs) are listed as low in contaminants and safe to eat more than four times per month. When it comes to seafood, it's best to check with local authorities about levels of contaminants.

3. Antioxidant Support

When we think of foods high in antioxidants, it's common to think of fruits, vegetables and other plant foods. But crabs are rich in a nutrient that plays an important role in protecting our bodies from oxidative damage. That nutrient is selenium, and a three-ounce serving of crab contains about half of your daily requirement. Selenium is part of enzyme systems that reduce oxidative damage to cells and tissues. Eating enough selenium is important to keep these systems functioning. There may even be a link between eating a high-selenium diet and cancer reduction, but the science is not conclusive at this time.

4. Natural Sodium

Crab is one of the few foods that are high in sodium in their natural state. In a three-ounce serving, blue crab has more than 200 milligrams of sodium. Dungeness crab has more than 300 milligrams of sodium. And Alaska king crab has a whopping 911 milligrams of sodium. The natural sodium in crabs probably won't tip the sodium scales too much for healthy people. But in those who are on a sodium-restricted diet, such as people with congestive heart failure, crabs may be off limits due to their sodium content.

5. Basic Nutrition Points

You may not think of crabs as a nutrient-dense food, but crabs have healthy levels of protein and many vitamins and minerals. They are an especially good source of vitamin B12, niacin, phosphorus, zinc, copper and selenium.