Oysters may be the ultimate seaside indulgence, but these protein-packed mollusks deserve a spot on your plate all year long.
Regardless of where you eat them, oysters, with their unique briny and savory flavor and buttery flesh, make any meal feel like a vacation. But while they may conjure images of an idyllic summer day, their significant health benefits should keep them on our plates year-round.
The seashell-packaged protein, whether picked from the seas of Nova Scotia's Cape North, the Chesapeake's York River, or Texas' Galveston Bay, soaks up the ocean's minerals, thereby boosting their nutritional content. Oysters are high in zinc, which enhances our immune systems and plays an important role in energy metabolism, as well as selenium, a mineral that protects our cells from free radical damage, lowers the risk of joint inflammation, and is required for the production of the thyroid hormone. They're also a complete source of protein, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids needed to build and repair muscle tissue (3 ounces have over 9 grams of protein).
There's no basis for the “R-month Myth” — a claim that you can only eat oysters during months ending in the letter “R” — which was started before the advent of our modern high-tech refrigeration techniques. However, there is some truth to the aphrodisiac rumors. A study presented to the American Chemical Society revealed that oysters contain two amino acids that raise levels of the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen. Although it isn’t clear exactly how estrogen improves libido, increased levels of testosterone have a positive effect on sexual response. Nevertheless, just the idea that these foods can be aphrodisiacs might be enough to get you feeling frisky. So put down the cocktail sauce and discover another side of the seashell superfood with this recipe:
Oysters with Guacamole Salsa
2 Roma tomatoes cut in small cubes
½ ounce chopped garlic
1 tbsp. chopped green pepper
1 tbsp. chopped red onion
4 oysters on the half shell
Mix the tomatoes, garlic, chopped onions, pepper, and avocado together, mashing with a fork. Place ½ ounce on each oyster and serve.
Nationally recognized nutrition expert and author Keri Glassman (@KeriGlassman) is the founder and president of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City.