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Mussel vs Oyster - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Mussel
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Oyster

Introduction

Mussel is seafood that can come from a freshwater source or a saltwater source. Saltwater mussel is the most consumed type of mussel consumed all around the world. Freshwater mussels are mostly considered inedible. However, throughout history, some native American tribes used to consider freshwater mussels.

There are different types of mussels; the most common ones that are edible are usually the farm-raised blue mussels and the green mussels.

Oysters are seafood that only comes from saltwater sources. They can be consumed cooked or raw. Oysters are highly available in rocky sea basins and throughout history, oysters were considered both luxurious food and food for the working class. This is due to its availability in certain regions and ease of gathering. In addition to gastronomy, oysters function as natural water filtration and are natural indicators for pollution.

Culinary world

Mussels are very versatile when it comes to their methods of preparation. Over different parts of the world mussels are prepared and consumed differently.

As seafood mussels have to be fresh and above all before preparing them for eating, always make sure that they are alive. If mussels are not alive, the enzyme inside them degrades the mussel itself and makes it poisonous.

In France, Belgium, and the Netherlands mussels are accompanied by fries and this famous dish is called “Moules et Frites”.

In Italy, a famous mussel dish is done with white wine sauce. The mussels are steam cooked with herbs, garlic, and white wine.

Mussels can be fried, smoked, roasted, and grilled with different types of oil.

Oysters were part of the culinary culture of many civilizations that lived on the shorelines.

Eating an oyster can range from the most simple method, which is cutting it open and eating it to a more complex dish such as the oyster Rockefeller. Oysters should be eaten alive. If it is not the case, poisoning might occur, mostly with Vibrio species. A famous oyster dish is the oyster Rockefeller created in New Orleans. Other famous types of serving oysters are raw with a squeeze of lemon, fried, grilled, or smoked.

Religious aspect

Some religions have categorized mussels and oysters as forbidden.

Price

Mussels are cheaper than oysters averaging around 10$ per kg whereas oysters cost 20$ per kg.

In this article, we are going to compare the difference between mussels and oysters according to their nutritional content, diet and weight loss impacts, and health impacts.

Nutritional content comparison

In this part of the article, we are going to compare mussels that are cooked in moist heat to breaded and fried oysters.

Glycemic index

Oysters have a glycemic index value of 0 compared to mussels which have a glycemic index of 50. It is important to note that mussels are classified as low glycemic index foods.

Calories

Mussels are lower in calories compared to oysters. It is important to mention that the difference that exists between them is not peculiar, however, it exists.

Carbs

Oysters have higher amounts of carbs compared to mussels. The difference is 1.5 times higher.

Proteins

Mussels are richer in proteins compared to oysters. Mussels have almost 2.5 times more protein compared to oysters.
When we break down the protein quality of mussels and oysters we realize that mussels are richer in all essential amino acids, in addition to that, they satisfy the recommended daily value of each essential amino acid by at least 100%. Whereas, oysters satisfy the RDV of threonine and tryptophan only.

Fats

Mussels contain less fat compared to oysters. Mussels have 3 times less total fat compared to oysters. It is important to take into consideration the ratio of different types of fats in both these foods. Overall the ratio of unsaturated to saturated is 2:1 in both mussels and oysters. In turn, the ratio between polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats is 1:1.

Cholesterol

Oysters contain higher levels of cholesterols than mussels. They contain less than 30% of the recommended daily value.

Trans fat

Both mussels and oysters contain high amounts of trans fat. Oysters, in turn, contain higher amounts of trans fats. Trans fat should be taken into consideration because it is the cause of various diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels. The health impacts will be discussed in the upcoming sections.

Minerals

Mussels are richer in manganese, selenium, and phosphorus. Whereas, oysters are richer in zinc, copper, and iron. It is important to mention that mussels have high levels of iron however, comparatively it is lower than that of oysters.

Vitamins

Mussels have a comparatively richer vitamin content than oysters. Mussels are richer in all B complex vitamins which are B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, and folate. Although it is important to mention that oysters have high amounts of vitamin B12.

Weight loss and diets

Vegan

Mussels and oysters are animals thus they cannot be eaten in the vegan diet.

Keto

Both mussels and oysters are recommended to be eaten in the keto diet. They are highly packed with nutrients.

For overall weight loss, oysters and mussels can be consumed without worry. Mussels are rich in B complex vitamins, minerals, and proteins. On the other hand, oysters are rich in minerals and healthy fats. Both these add an additional layer of texture and flavor to any food. In turn, they have a wide range of versatility in preparation and provide various health benefits.

Health impacts

Cardiovascular health

Mussels are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are known to have cardioprotective functions. Mussels reduce the risks of cardiac arrhythmias and atherosclerosis. (1)

A protein source that is mainly based on red meat has its downsides, relatively, focusing on shellfish for protein source is a healthier alternative to red meat consumption. In turn, shellfish also has its downsides which are discussed in upcoming paragraphs. (2)

In turn, it is important to mention that mussels and oysters contain cholesterol, and oysters in specific have higher amounts of fats and cholesterol compared to mussels. If the consumption of both these foods is not moderated, they increase the risks of developing cardiovascular diseases. (3)

Allergies

Shellfish allergies exist for both mussels and oysters. This is a matter of concern because a large part of people around the world have shellfish allergies. (4)

Poisoning and intoxication

When it comes to the consumption of mussels the mussel needs to be alive before preparing it for any type of food. If this is not the case, enzymes start degrading the dead mussel and release toxins that cause poisoning. This condition is called “paralytic shellfish poisoning” it is a severe type of poisoning that can even cause death.

On the other hand, oysters cause poisoning due to viruses and bacteria mostly. The bacteria which causes oyster poisoning is from the family of vibrios.

Both of them need to be handled properly. Freshness, refrigeration, and cross-contamination are the main criteria to be careful of. (5) (6)

Diabetes

The management of diabetes is based on dietary recommendations in association with medications, including changes in dietary fat quality. Associating a diet rich with omega-3 fats with type 2 diabetes has shown to have positive effects on managing type 2 diabetes in parallel with medication. Both mussels and oysters are good additions to the diet list of type 2 diabetic individuals. (7)

Inflammation

Mussels and oysters have anti-inflammatory properties due to their omega 3 content, which may contribute to their protection against atherosclerosis, plaque rupture, and reduce risks of cardiovascular mortality. (8)

Mercury levels

Mussels have low levels of mercury in comparison to oysters which have moderate amounts. However, both these categories do not pose a threat to overall health. Especially if they are eaten in moderate amounts. (9)

Pregnancy

For pregnant women, they should follow a dietary guideline on which foods they can eat during the pregnancy period. As shellfish, specifically, oysters can cause mercury poisoning if not eaten in moderation. In addition to that, they both may contain harmful bacteria, viruses, or be contaminated with toxins. However, they are also loaded with beneficial nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. That is why it is important to follow a dietary guideline, it keeps both the baby and the mother safe from any deficiencies or foodborne pathogens. (10)

Anemia

Deficiency in vitamin B12, folate, and iron are the leading causes of anemias among populations. Consuming foods that are rich in vitamin B12, folate, and iron can improve the levels of each and reduce the risks of developing anemia. In terms, mussels are a better alternative than oysters when it comes to the levels of vitamins and minerals. (11)

Summary

Mussels are richer in proteins, B complex vitamins, manganese, selenium, and phosphorus. Compared to oysters, which are higher in fats and cholesterol, richer in zinc, copper, and iron. Mussels are a better alternative to oysters when it comes to diets and overall health. Mussels are cheaper.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1780156/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2349916/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19631050/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24870065/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32550574/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26038900/
  7. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/94/1/26/4597878?login=true
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257651/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5334723/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7346675/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3736489/
Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Profession: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: July 30, 2021

Infographic

Mussel vs Oyster infographic
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Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Mussel
3
:
5
Oyster
Contains more Phosphorus +79.2%
Contains less Sodium -11.5%
Contains more Calcium +87.9%
Contains more Magnesium +56.8%
Contains more Copper +2781.9%
Contains more Zinc +3163.3%
Equal in Iron - 6.95
Equal in Potassium - 244
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 252% 10% 24% 27% 50% 73% 123% 49%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 261% 19% 22% 42% 1432% 2377% 69% 55%
Contains more Phosphorus +79.2%
Contains less Sodium -11.5%
Contains more Calcium +87.9%
Contains more Magnesium +56.8%
Contains more Copper +2781.9%
Contains more Zinc +3163.3%
Equal in Iron - 6.95
Equal in Potassium - 244

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Mussel
9
:
0
Oyster
Contains more Vitamin C +257.9%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +100%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +107.9%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +81.8%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +251.9%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +56.3%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +53.6%
Contains more Folate +145.2%
Equal in Vitamin A - 302
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 46% 19% 0% 0% 75% 97% 57% 57% 24% 3000% 0% 57%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 13% 19% 0% 0% 38% 47% 31% 17% 15% 1954% 0% 24%
Contains more Vitamin C +257.9%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +100%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +107.9%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +81.8%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +251.9%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +56.3%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +53.6%
Contains more Folate +145.2%
Equal in Vitamin A - 302

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
286
Mussel
179
Oyster
Mineral Summary Score
76
Mussel
534
Oyster

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
143%
Mussel
53%
Oyster
Carbohydrates
7%
Mussel
12%
Oyster
Fats
21%
Mussel
58%
Oyster

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Mussel Oyster
Lower in glycemic index ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Sugar Equal

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Mussel Oyster
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

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Comparison summary

Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Oyster
Oyster is lower in glycemic index (difference - 50)
Which food is cheaper?
Oyster
Oyster is cheaper (difference - $4)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Oyster
Oyster is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Mussel
Mussel is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 15mg)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Mussel
Mussel contains less Sodium (difference - 48mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Mussel
Mussel is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 2.347g)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Mussel
Mussel is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food contains less Sugar?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Sugar ( g)

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Mussel Oyster Opinion
Calories 172 199 Oyster
Protein 23.8 8.77 Mussel
Fats 4.48 12.58 Oyster
Vitamin C 13.6 3.8 Mussel
Carbs 7.39 11.62 Oyster
Cholesterol 56 71 Mussel
Vitamin D
Iron 6.72 6.95 Oyster
Calcium 33 62 Oyster
Potassium 268 244 Mussel
Magnesium 37 58 Oyster
Sugar
Fiber 0 Mussel
Copper 0.149 4.294 Oyster
Zinc 2.67 87.13 Oyster
Starch
Phosphorus 285 159 Mussel
Sodium 369 417 Mussel
Vitamin A 304 302 Mussel
Vitamin E
Vitamin D
Vitamin B1 0.3 0.15 Mussel
Vitamin B2 0.42 0.202 Mussel
Vitamin B3 3 1.65 Mussel
Vitamin B5 0.95 0.27 Mussel
Vitamin B6 0.1 0.064 Mussel
Vitamin B12 24 15.63 Mussel
Vitamin K
Folate 76 31 Mussel
Trans Fat
Saturated Fat 0.85 3.197 Mussel
Monounsaturated Fat 1.014 4.702 Oyster
Polyunsaturated fat 1.212 3.313 Oyster
Tryptophan 0.267 0.105 Mussel
Threonine 1.025 0.365 Mussel
Isoleucine 1.036 0.396 Mussel
Leucine 1.676 0.638 Mussel
Lysine 1.779 0.582 Mussel
Methionine 0.537 0.199 Mussel
Phenylalanine 0.853 0.352 Mussel
Valine 1.04 0.409 Mussel
Histidine 0.457 0.175 Mussel
Fructose

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Mussel - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/174217/nutrients
  2. Oyster - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171979/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.