Mussels are one class of seafood that are now extensively farmed for our consumption. Of the commonly eaten mussels, two species grow naturally in New Zealand and Australian coastal seas; green lipped mussels and blue mussels, both of which provide valuable, but often different, nutritional benefits.
Green lipped mussels specifically, if eaten raw and fresh from the sea, provide valuable minerals and proteins that may help maintain joint mobility and reduce inflammation, as well as support healthy cartilage and connective tissue function.
Providing they’re in good condition, both green lipped and blue mussels are packed full of nutritional and health benefits whether eaten raw or cooked and make a decadent yet nourishing addition to your diet. You’ll know your mussels are in good condition when the meat looks nice and fat with a creamy colour or pink /reddish colour (the creamy colour ones are males and the pink/reddish ones are females!).
With more than 40 years’ experience on the nutritional benefits of the ocean, John Croft, otherwise known as the ‘Mussel Man’, lets us in on some of the top health benefits of mussels:
- High in protein and low in calories
Mussels are a great source of protein, containing at least 17 amino acids. They also have a low fat and calorie content, but hold a great nutritional value. Interestingly, seafood proteins are more easily digested than others and the minerals and vitamins are easily absorbed by the body. Because we are ‘what we obtain from our food’ rather than ‘what we eat’, these are valuable properties.
- They are a good source of minerals
Mussels are a great source of minerals plus they contain a nicely balanced mixture of minerals similar to that found in our own bodies. As an excellent source of iron, mussels are beneficial for growth and immunity. Other minerals include boron, calcium, copper, manganese, magnesium, selenium and zinc, which all play important roles in the body.
- Omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA
Omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to healthy aging throughout life. Particularly seafood-derived omega fatty acids EPA and DHA, they are essential for good heart health, reducing inflammation and have also been shown to have positive effects on mental wellbeing. Mussels are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA and are also rich in phospholipids, which are important components of our cell membranes.
- Green lipped mussels have anti-inflammatory properties
Mounting scientific research reveals the benefits of the green lipped mussel for general health and for its anti-inflammatory properties. With its rich source of a range of natural compounds and the combination of glycogen complex (a carbohydrate compound) and essential fatty acids, they may help temporarily relieve joint pain and inflammation associated with mild osteoarthritis and rheumatism. The joint-health properties of green lipped mussels were first noticed more than 100 years ago by Maoris in New Zealand, where they are sustainably harvested.
Research also shows green lipped mussel extract, which can be found in pharmacies and health food stores, may help relieve symptoms of mild osteoarthritis and rheumatism.
- Mussels are rich in B vitamins
Mussels are a great source of B vitamins, all of which play an important role in overall wellbeing and keeping our bodies running smoothly. These shellfish are particularly rich in vitamin B12, which is especially important for energy levels and keeping your nerves healthy.
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