Oysters, the holiday superfood

CHRONIC. Rich in iodine, protein and vitamins, shellfish are a delicacy for health and for the holidays, despite three precautions.





By Boris Hansel, with Guillaume Paret (video)

Oysters have a great quality: they provide a good amount of protein while being relatively low in calories.
© HOUIN / BSIP via AFP

I subscribe to €1 the 1st month


Every Friday at Le Point.fr you can find the nutrition chronicle about Pr Boris Hansel, endocrinologist and nutritionist at Bichat Hospital in Paris. He is also the host of the health channel PuMS on YouTube.

Oysters are regularly at the top of superfood lists. But is it really justified?

Oysters have one great quality. It is a food that provides a good amount of protein while being relatively low in calories. For example, when you consume a dozen oysters, you bring about 10 g of protein to your body. We are in the same order of magnitude as what a fashionable protein dairy like skir or two eggs brings.

But there is another nutritional quality of oysters: they are excellent sources of micronutrients. In the foreground is iodine. Ten to twelve oysters average 100 micrograms of iodine, while adults need 150 micrograms per day. This shell provides many other minerals, such as phosphorus and vitamins, especially vitamin B12. It therefore contributes to the maintenance of an optimal nutritional balance for good health.

ALSO READHoliday meals: what to drink with seafood

Another strong point of oysters is the quality of the fats it contains. They belong to the omega 3 family, whose good reputation is second to none. Conversely, its meat is low in saturated fats, the ones accused of raising blood cholesterol levels and clogging arteries.

Salt, pollutants and bacteria

The oyster seems to be the superfood that should be eaten every day to stay in good shape. Unfortunately, it also has its limitations. There are three primary ones:

The first is its salt content. Twelve oysters yield the equivalent of three pinches of salt. It’s worse if you eat them with bread and salted butter.

The second, which is still poorly evaluated, is its pollution with pollutants from the sea, especially with microplastics. But we currently don’t know how to measure the real health impact of oysters contaminated in this way.

And then there is the risk associated with consuming oysters contaminated with microorganisms, such as bacteria, which can cause gastro-intestinal inflammation. It is relatively rare and benign for most of us, but it can be dangerous for people with weak immunity.

In summary and in practice:

  • The oyster is clearly a nutritionally very rich food.
  • Beware of people who need to limit their salt intake, especially if they suffer from heart failure: a single meal of oysters can worsen the disease.
  • As a precautionary measure, given the skepticism surrounding the contaminants contaminating oysters, it is best not to eat them too often. We use it on occasion and, for those who want it, up to once or twice a week.


Leave a Comment