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Mussels vs. Oysters – How Different Are They?

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Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian by Jack Yacoubian | Last updated on June 29, 2023
Medically reviewed by Victoria Mazmanyan Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Mussels
vs
Oysters

Summary

Mussels are over 2 times richer in protein. They are also somewhat higher in calories, fats, and carbohydrates. 

Mussels are the absolute winner in the vitamin category, being richer in all of them. 

Oysters are 38 times richer in copper and 29 times richer in zinc. However, mussels contain 11 times more manganese and 2 times more selenium.

Introduction

Mussels and oysters are two different types of seafood. While people often confuse the two, and though both are bivalves, certain qualities set them apart.

This article will compare mussels and oysters according to their general use, nutritional content, and health impacts.

Habitat

Mussel is seafood that can come from freshwater or saltwater source. On the other hand, the oyster isseafood that only comes from saltwater sources. 

The natural habitat of saltwater mussels is the ocean. It is the most commonly consumed type of mussel worldwide. Freshwater mussels are mostly considered inedible. However, throughout history, some Native American tribes used freshwater mussels as vital sources of nutrients.

Oysters are highly available in rocky sea basins, and for centuries, oysters have been considered both a 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.

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

Culinary Use

Mussels and oysters can be very versatile when it comes to their methods of preparation. In different parts of the world, they are prepared and consumed differently. These bivalve mollusks can be consumed raw or cooked. 

Like any seafood, mussels and oysters are best when they are fresh. However, unlike most seafood, if they are not alive when prepared or cooked, eating them could result in food poisoning since the enzymes in them break down the tissues, producing poisonous components. 

Mussels can be fried, smoked, roasted, and grilled with different types of oil. Mussels have a distinctive sweet and salty flavor. They are often described as having a similar taste to clams; however, with a more robust and pronounced taste. The meat is tender, slightly chewy, and has a rich, buttery texture.

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 made with white wine sauce. The mussels are steam-cooked with herbs, garlic, and white wine.

Oysters were part of the culinary culture of many civilizations that lived on the shorelines. Eating an oyster can range from the simplest methods – cutting it open and eating it  to more complex dishes, such as the oyster Rockefeller. This is a famous oyster dish created in New Orleans. Other popular methods of serving oysters are raw with a squeeze of lemon, fried, grilled, or smoked.

Nutritional Content

In this section of the article, we will compare 100g servings of mussels and oysters, both cooked in moist heat.

However, an average serving of these foods per person is considered 3 ounces, equal to 85g.

Calories

Mussels provide 1.7 times more calories than oysters, containing 172 calories per 100g, while the same serving of oysters has 102 calories.

Proteins

Mussels are over 2 times richer in protein compared to oysters. Overall, a 100g serving of mussels covers 57% of the required daily value of proteins, while this number for oysters is 27%.

A 100g serving of mussels and oysters contains 23.4g and 11.4g of protein, respectively.

As expected, mussels are richer in all of the essential amino acids. Oysters are low in threonine, and they are both relatively low in methionine, valine, and phenylalanine.   

Fats

While mussels are relatively higher in fats than oysters, these two foods are not high in fats. A 100g serving of mussels contains 1g more fats, providing 4.5g, whereas the same serving of oysters has 3.4g of fats.

Mussels have a more favorable fat profile, as they are richer in unsaturated fats and somewhat lower in saturated fats.

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains less Saturated Fat -10.3%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +100.4%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +14.8%
28% 33% 39%
Saturated Fat: 0.85 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.014 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.212 g
38% 20% 42%
Saturated Fat: 0.948 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.506 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.056 g
Contains less Saturated Fat -10.3%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +100.4%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +14.8%

Mussels are nearly 2 times higher in omega-3 DHA and DPA, while oysters are richer in omega-3 EPA.

Cholesterol

Despite being higher in fats, mussels are lower in cholesterol, containing 56mg per 100g, while oysters have 79mg.

Both oysters and mussels are high-cholesterol foods. Oysters fall in the top 22% of foods as a source of cholesterol.

Carbs

While these two foods are not particularly high in carbohydrates, mussels are higher in this macronutrient.

A 100g serving of mussels and oysters provides 7.4 and 5.5g of carbohydrates, respectively.

The carb content of mussels and oysters is completely made up of net carbs, as these foods do not contain dietary fiber. 

Minerals

Mussels and oysters are rich sources of minerals, providing these micronutrients in varying amounts.

Oysters are 38 times richer in copper and 29 times richer in zinc. They are also richer in calcium and iron and contain less sodium.

On the other hand, mussels contain 11 times more manganese and 2 times more selenium. Potassium and phosphorus levels are also higher in mussels. 

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains more Phosphorus +46.9%
Contains more Potassium +92.8%
Contains more Manganese +1050.6%
Contains more Selenium +126.8%
Contains more Calcium +251.5%
Contains more Iron +37.1%
Contains less Sodium -55%
Contains more Zinc +2843.8%
Contains more Copper +3730.2%
Equal in Magnesium - 35
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 10% 252% 27% 123% 24% 49% 73% 50% 887% 489%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 35% 346% 25% 84% 13% 22% 2144% 1903% 78% 216%
Contains more Phosphorus +46.9%
Contains more Potassium +92.8%
Contains more Manganese +1050.6%
Contains more Selenium +126.8%
Contains more Calcium +251.5%
Contains more Iron +37.1%
Contains less Sodium -55%
Contains more Zinc +2843.8%
Contains more Copper +3730.2%
Equal in Magnesium - 35

To put these numbers in context, a 100g serving of oysters covers the daily needed value of zinc and copper by 715% and 634%, respectively.

A 100g serving of mussels covers 296% of the daily required value of manganese and 163% of selenium.

Vitamins

Mussels are the absolute winner in this category, being richer in all vitamins. They are excellent sources of most B-group vitamins, covering 1000% of the daily needed value of vitamin B12.

Mussels are 8 times richer in vitamin B15 times richer in folate or vitamin B9, 3 times richer in vitamin A, and 2 times richer in vitamins B2 and B5. They also contain higher levels of vitamins B5, B6, B12, and C.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
:
Contains more Vitamin A +245.5%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +733.3%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +133.3%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +62.2%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +112.5%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +63.9%
Contains more Folate +442.9%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +37.1%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 19% 0% 0% 46% 75% 97% 57% 57% 24% 57% 3000% 0%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 6% 34% 0% 0% 9% 42% 35% 27% 15% 11% 2188% 5%
Contains more Vitamin A +245.5%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +733.3%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +133.3%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +62.2%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +112.5%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +63.9%
Contains more Folate +442.9%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +37.1%

Weight Loss and Diets

Both mussels and oysters can be consumed in the keto diet as they are packed with protein, minerals, and vitamins. However, they should be consumed in moderation as they provide 5 to 7g of carbohydrates per 100g serving.

For overall weight loss, oysters and mussels can be consumed within limits. While these two types of seafood are an excellent source of many nutrients, they are medium-calorie foods and are high in cholesterol.

Health impacts

Cardiovascular health

Despite the high cholesterol content, high oyster and mussel consumption was found to have no effects on blood cholesterol levels (1). One study even found oyster and mussel intake to decrease cholesterol levels in the blood (2).

Mussels and oysters are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to have cardioprotective functions. Omega-3 fatty acids can have a beneficial effect in decreasing the risks of cardiac arrhythmias and atherosclerosis (3).

Allergies

Shellfish allergies are one of the most common allergies in the world. People allergic to oysters are often also allergic to mussels and vice-versa. This allergic reaction is usually towards a protein found in these mollusks called tropomyosin (4).

Some people with mussels allergies are not allergic to oysters. This type of allergy is caused by a protein found in mussels called paramyosin (4).

Poisoning and Intoxication

Several microalgae species have the ability to produce poisons that reach us through the food we eat. Paralytic shellfish poisoning is caused by consuming contaminated shellfish, including oysters and mussels. It’s known for its unique acute neurological symptoms and even fatal outcome. Signs of paralytic shellfish poisoning might range from mild tingling or numbness to total respiratory paralysis. In fatal situations, respiratory paralysis happens 2–12 hours after eating contaminated food. Paralytic shellfish poisoning is caused by harmful algal blooms found in the shellfish (5). 

Another concern for consumers is bacterial contamination. Eating raw oysters and mussels can be particularly dangerous for people who are at high risk, such as those with diabetes, liver illness, or weakened immune systems (6). The bacteria which often causes oyster poisoning is from the Vibrio family (7).

Thus, both oysters and mussels need to be handled properly. Freshness, refrigeration, and contamination are the main criteria to be careful of.

Diabetes and Gout

A study focused on the relation of shellfish, such as oysters and mussels, to diabetes and gout. This research concluded that while oysters and mussels may not increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, they might increase uric acid excretion, thus, raising gout risk due to a high content of purines (8).

Heavy Metal Contamination

Mussels contain higher levels of mercury, while oysters are considerably higher in cadmium. However, research finds that the average levels of cadmium, mercury, and copper detected in mollusks from the Italian coastline are low, and even when higher shellfish portions are consumed, exposure to these metals is moderate (9).

Anemia

Vitamin B12, folate, and iron deficiency are the leading causes of anemia (10). Thus, consuming foods rich in vitamin B12, folate, and iron can reduce the risk of developing anemia. Mussels are a better source of B-group vitamins; however, oysters are somewhat richer in iron.

Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: June 29, 2023
Medically reviewed by Victoria Mazmanyan

Infographic

Mussels vs Oysters infographic
Infographic link

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Protein +108.4%
Contains more Fats +31%
Contains more Carbs +35.6%
Contains more Other +109.2%
Contains more Water +27.9%
24% 4% 7% 61% 3%
Protein: 23.8 g
Fats: 4.48 g
Carbs: 7.39 g
Water: 61.15 g
Other: 3.18 g
11% 3% 5% 78%
Protein: 11.42 g
Fats: 3.42 g
Carbs: 5.45 g
Water: 78.19 g
Other: 1.52 g
Contains more Protein +108.4%
Contains more Fats +31%
Contains more Carbs +35.6%
Contains more Other +109.2%
Contains more Water +27.9%

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Mussels Oysters
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Rich in minerals Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Mussels Oysters Opinion
Net carbs 7.39g 5.45g Mussels
Protein 23.8g 11.42g Mussels
Fats 4.48g 3.42g Mussels
Carbs 7.39g 5.45g Mussels
Calories 172kcal 102kcal Mussels
Starch 0.9g Oysters
Sugar 1.23g Mussels
Calcium 33mg 116mg Oysters
Iron 6.72mg 9.21mg Oysters
Magnesium 37mg 35mg Mussels
Phosphorus 285mg 194mg Mussels
Potassium 268mg 139mg Mussels
Sodium 369mg 166mg Oysters
Zinc 2.67mg 78.6mg Oysters
Copper 0.149mg 5.707mg Oysters
Manganese 6.8mg 0.591mg Mussels
Selenium 89.6µg 39.5µg Mussels
Vitamin A 304IU 88IU Mussels
Vitamin A RAE 91µg 26µg Mussels
Vitamin E 1.7mg Oysters
Vitamin D 2IU Oysters
Vitamin C 13.6mg 0mg Mussels
Vitamin B1 0.3mg 0.036mg Mussels
Vitamin B2 0.42mg 0.18mg Mussels
Vitamin B3 3mg 1.85mg Mussels
Vitamin B5 0.95mg 0.447mg Mussels
Vitamin B6 0.1mg 0.061mg Mussels
Folate 76µg 14µg Mussels
Vitamin B12 24µg 17.5µg Mussels
Vitamin K 2µg Oysters
Tryptophan 0.267mg 0.138mg Mussels
Threonine 1.025mg 0.046mg Mussels
Isoleucine 1.036mg 0.459mg Mussels
Leucine 1.676mg 0.716mg Mussels
Lysine 1.779mg 0.762mg Mussels
Methionine 0.537mg 0.257mg Mussels
Phenylalanine 0.853mg 0.413mg Mussels
Valine 1.04mg 0.523mg Mussels
Histidine 0.457mg 0.22mg Mussels
Cholesterol 56mg 79mg Mussels
Trans Fat 0.068g Mussels
Saturated Fat 0.85g 0.948g Mussels
Omega-3 - DHA 0.506g 0.271g Mussels
Omega-3 - EPA 0.276g 0.353g Oysters
Omega-3 - DPA 0.044g 0.02g Mussels
Monounsaturated Fat 1.014g 0.506g Mussels
Polyunsaturated fat 1.212g 1.056g Mussels
Omega-6 - Eicosadienoic acid 0.007g Oysters
Omega-6 - Linoleic acid 0.061g Oysters
Omega-6 - Gamma-linoleic acid 0.004g Oysters
Omega-3 - ALA 0.163g Oysters
Omega-3 - Eicosatrienoic acid 0.004g Oysters
Omega-6 - Dihomo-gamma-linoleic acid 0.007g Oysters

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Mussels Oysters
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
286%
Mussels
197%
Oysters
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
198%
Mussels
486%
Oysters

Comparison summary

Which food contains less Sodium?
Oysters
Oysters contains less Sodium (difference - 203mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Oysters
Oysters is lower in glycemic index (difference - 50)
Which food is cheaper?
Oysters
Oysters is cheaper (difference - $4)
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Mussels
Mussels is lower in Sugar (difference - 1.23g)
Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Mussels
Mussels is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 23mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Mussels
Mussels is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.098g)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Mussels
Mussels is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food is richer in minerals?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Mussels - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/174217/nutrients
  2. Oysters - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171980/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.