Mussels are chock-full of the good stuff: Protein, iron, manganese, phosphorous, selenium, zinc, and vitamins C and B12, says Pooja Vig, nutritional therapist and founder of The Nutrition Clinic. What’s more, mussels contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can protect against heart diseases and inflammation. In addition, 100g of boiled mussels has 20g of protein, 115 calories and only 3g of fat, according to the Health Promotion Board, making them one of the most potent muscle-building foods around.
Pick and Choose
If you’re preparing your own bivalve dish, you need to watch out. Select mussels with a slipshod attitude and we’d rather you down them with anti-diarrhoea pills to save you the trouble. “Mussels should always be cooked live, which means that they must be bought live,” says Vig, as mussels can quickly become contaminated after they die. Here are some tips she offers: Ensure that the shell is moist, shiny and that it smells of the sea. To ensure the critters are still alive, buy mussels that are tightly closed or that snap shut when you tap them with your finger. Also, avoid mussels that seem too heavy or light, says Vig. Throw away any that don’t close when you tap on them, and also those that remain tightly shut after being cooked – this means that the mussel was already dead when you threw it into the pot.
More props to mussels right here – an extract from the New Zealand green-lipped mussel (known commercially as Lyprinol) is used as an omega-3 supplement that sports levels of the fatty acid that are “particularly high for shellfish,” notes Candida Savage from the University of Otago, the co-author of a study that investigates the influence of geographical regions on mussel size and sex. Studies show that the extract “…has a potent anti-inflammatory action,” says Vig, making it useful for conditions such as arthritis and asthma.