Mussel vs Oyster - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
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.
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.
Some religions have categorized mussels and oysters as forbidden.
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.
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.
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.
Oysters have higher amounts of carbs compared to mussels. The difference is 1.5 times higher.
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.
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.
Oysters contain higher levels of cholesterols than mussels. They contain less than 30% of the recommended daily value.
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.
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.
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
Mussels and oysters are animals thus they cannot be eaten in the vegan diet.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
Comparison summary table
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Lower in price|
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in Cholesterol|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Sugar||Equal|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|
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All nutrients comparison - raw data values