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5 Benefits of bivalves and side effects

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Discover the 5 shocking health benefits of bivalves and side effects.

From banquets to oyster and cocktail bars and more, varieties of bivalves like clams, mussels, and scallops are popping up everywhere.

It is easy to understand why; Not only do they have a distinctive and delicious flavor, but they are also versatile enough to add pasta, soups, and sauces, meaning there are no excuses when accessing the benefits of bivalves.

While there is no question that they are tasty, many question the possible effects that this food can have when it comes to health.

Uncooked oysters, in particular, are known to spread infectious bacteria, but other types of bivalves are also known to transmit dangerous toxins that can have detrimental health effects.

On the other hand, bivalves are an incredibly nutrient-dense food, providing a concentrated megadose of important micronutrients like vitamin B12 and selenium.

They also tend to be high in protein and antioxidants, plus they can be associated with some health benefits as well.

So should you eat bivalves, or should you start skipping seafood, whether you have a shellfish allergy or not? Read on to find out what you need to know to help you decide for yourself.


5 shocking health benefits of bivalves


Health benefits of bivalves

1.- It can protect against anemia

Anemia is a condition caused by a lack of healthy red blood cells in the body, leading to symptoms of anemia such as fatigue, pale skin, and dizziness.

Anemia can stem from chronic diseases, blood loss, certain gastrointestinal disorders, and most commonly, a deficiency in important vitamins and minerals involved in the production of red blood cells.

Most of the benefits of clams are packed with vitamin B12 and iron, two nutrients that can help prevent anemia even a single serving of clams can meet and exceed your daily requirements for iron and vitamin B12.

Getting enough of these two micronutrients can protect against diseases like iron deficiency anemia and pernicious anemia to keep your red blood cells healthy and prevent negative symptoms.

2.- Lower risk of contamination by heavy metals

One of the common concerns when it comes to eating shellfish is an increased risk of exposure to heavy metals such as mercury, this is especially common in certain types of fish, such as king mackerel, swordfish, and tilefish, because they occupy higher up the food chain and absorb a greater amount of mercury from their prey.

Mercury poisoning can cause symptoms such as numbness, pain, rashes, tremors, memory problems, and even death in extreme cases.

Consuming a large amount of mercury during pregnancy can also increase the risk of birth defects, such as cognitive deficits, motor difficulties, and sensory problems.


Bivalve mills are considered filter feeders, which means they are at the bottom of the food chain; While many people think this means that they eat the garbage that accumulates on the ocean floor, such as parasites, feces, and decomposing fish, this is not the case.

So what do bivalves eat? While some types of bivalves are carnivores, the commonly eaten types use their gills to attract phytoplankton and algae while filtering out larger particles.

Due to their unique diet, the benefits of bivalves are less likely to accumulate heavy metals such as mercury, making them a safer option than other varieties of seafood.

3.- Good source of protein

Certain types of bivalves are considered high-protein foods; Mussels, clams, and scallops, in particular, are loaded with protein and can supply up to 22 grams in a single serving.

Protein plays a central role in almost every aspect of health. Proteins not only form the basis of skin, hair, and nails, but they also function as antibodies to protect against infection, as enzymes that help catalyze chemical reactions in the body, and as a messenger, proteins transmit signals between cells.

Getting enough protein every day is also vital for everything from muscle growth to regulating blood pressure.

4.- High in antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that work to neutralize harmful free radicals and prevent damage to cells; Research shows that antioxidants can help reduce oxidative stress, minimize inflammation, and lower the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

The benefits of bivalves contain many nutrients that act as antioxidants in the body; Selenium, for example, protects against oxidative stress and has been shown to have beneficial effects on immunity, heart health, and cancer prevention.


Zinc can also decrease inflammation markers and reduce the incidence of infection thanks to its antioxidant properties, in addition, vitamin C has also been shown to act as an antioxidant and can have a powerful effect in preventing diseases.

5.- Helps in weight loss

Bivalves are low in calories but high in protein and essential nutrients, making them an ideal dietary addition if you want to lose a few extra pounds.

Mussels, clams, and scallops, in particular, are especially high in protein and can help you feel full to ward off cravings and reduce your appetite.

According to a published study, eating a meal rich in protein can lower levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, more effectively than eating a meal rich in carbohydrates.

Another study conducted in Seattle showed that increasing protein intake by just 15 percent increased satiety and decreased daily calorie intake by an impressive 441 calories, resulting in significant losses in body weight and fat mass.

Nutritional Data of Bivalves

The nutritional value of bivalve benefits can vary widely based on type, but they are generally low in calories and high in important nutrients such as zinc, vitamin B12, manganese, and selenium.

For example, a three-ounce serving of oysters (or about six medium oysters) contains about:

• 57.1 calories


• 3.3 grams of carbohydrates

• 5.9 grams of protein

• 2.1 grams of fat

• 76.3 milligrams  zinc  (509 percent DV)

• 16.3 micrograms of vitamin B12 (272 percent DV)

• 3.7 milligrams copper (187 percent DV)

• 53.5 micrograms selenium (76 percent DV)

• 269 IU  vitamin D (67 percent DV)


• 5.6 milligrams iron (31 percent DV)

• 0.3-milligram manganese (15 percent DV)

• 113 milligrams phosphorus (11 percent DV)

• 39.5 milligrams magnesium (10 percent DV)

Mussels, on the other hand, are higher in protein and contain a slightly different variety of nutrients, a three-ounce serving of cooked mussels contains approximately:

• 146 calories

• 6.3 grams of carbohydrates

• 20.2 grams of protein


• 3.8 grams of fat

• 20.4 micrograms of  vitamin B12  (340 percent DV)

• 5.8 milligrams manganese (289 percent DV)

• 76.2 micrograms selenium (109 percent DV)

• 5.7 milligrams iron (32 percent DV)

• 242 milligrams phosphorus (24 percent DV)

• 0.4 milligrams riboflavin (21 percent DV)

• 11.6 milligrams vitamin C (19 percent DV)


• 0.3 milligrams   thiamine   (17 percent DV)

• 64.6 micrograms of folic acid (16 percent DV)

• 2.3 milligrams zinc (15 percent DV)

• 2.6 milligrams niacin (13 percent DV)

Clams are also packed with protein and one of the best sources of vitamin B12 available, a three-ounce serving of cooked clams contains approximately:

• 126 calories

• 4.4 grams of carbohydrates

• 21.7 grams of protein


• 1.7 grams of fat

• 84.1 micrograms of vitamin B12 (1.401 percent DV)

• 23.8 milligrams iron (132 percent DV)

• 54.4 micrograms  selenium  (78 percent DV)


• 0.9-milligram manganese (43 percent DV)

• 18.8 milligrams vitamin C (31 percent DV)

• 0.6-milligram   copper  (29 percent DV)

• 287 milligrams phosphorus (29 percent DV)


• 0.4 milligrams riboflavin (21 percent DV)

• 2.3 milligrams zinc (15 percent DV)

• 534 milligrams potassium (15 percent DV)

• 2.9 milligrams niacin (14 percent DV)

• 485 IU vitamin A (10 percent DV)

Finally, scallops contain a good portion of protein but are lower in many micronutrients than other types of bivalves, a three-ounce serving of cooked scallops contains approximately:

• 94.2 calories

• 19.5 grams of protein


• 23.4 micrograms selenium (33 percent DV)

• 283.8 milligrams  phosphorus  (27 percent DV)

• 1.2 micrograms of vitamin B12 (18 percent DV)

• 2.4 milligrams zinc (18 percent DV)

• 2.4 milligrams  iron  (15 percent DV)

What are bivalves?

Bivalves are a type of marine mollusk and are closely related to other types of mollusks, such as squid, octopus, snails, and slugs.

However, the official definition of bivalves covers any aquatic mollusk belonging to the class  Bivalvia, such as oysters, scallops, clams, and mussels, these animals are found throughout the world in both fresh and saltwater and are one of the types of most commonly eaten seafood.

The most important aspect of the anatomy of bivalves is the two shells that protect the soft inner body, the benefits of bivalves can open and close the shells to help them move and eat, but immediately close them in the presence of danger.


So how do bivalves move? They have a special muscle called the foot that works like a hinge to control the shells and is also responsible for most of their movement.

The foot is especially effective when it comes to moving around and digging to help the bivalve hide in the sand away from danger.

For other types of movement, the bivalve generally relies on water currents to help carry them further.

Instead of mouths, bivalves have tubes called siphons that allow them to breathe and eat.

Food passes into the stomach where it can be digested, and oxygen from the water passes to the gills, which aid in respiration.

Waste products and carbon dioxide are also removed through a different siphon, known as the outlet siphon.

Edible Bivalve Food + Types of Bivalves

Bivalves are the second largest class of mollusks, just behind univalves, which are made up of slugs and snails.

There are an estimated 10,000 living species of bivalves, with only 20 percent found in freshwater sources.


That said, not all bivalves are edible. Some of the more common examples of edible bivalves include oysters, clams, cockles, scallops, and mussels; bivalves are often eaten grilled, steamed, or cooked and served with pasta, soups, or seafood pans; the meat is usually removed with a fork, and the empty shell is discarded; some types of bivalves are often eaten raw, such as oysters.

To eat an oyster, the meat is separated from the shell with a fork, the shell is collected, and the oyster is slurped from the wide end.

Some types of bivalves are also used to make dips, sauces, broths, and juices that can easily be incorporated into other recipes.

Side effects of bivalves

Although adding bivalves to your diet can have some health benefits, there are some side effects to be aware of as well.

First of all, those with a shellfish allergy should not eat bivalves; Shellfish allergies are one of the leading causes of food allergies in the world, affecting an estimated 2.2 percent of adults in the United States.

The symptoms of common food allergy to shellfish may include itching, hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, and dizziness, if you experience these or other symptoms after eating bivalve or other seafood, stop using them immediately and talk to your doctor.

Eating certain types of raw shellfish, like oysters, can also come with some food safety concerns; Certain strains of the Vibrio bacteria inhabit the coastal regions where oysters are found.

Eating raw oysters that have been infected with Vibrio bacteria can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and skin lesions, and cooking oysters and bivalves thoroughly are the best way to prevent infection.


Another health problem associated with consuming the benefits of bivalves is the risk of dangerous toxins that can cause various types of shellfish poisoning.

Because bivalves use to filter feed, harmful bacteria and toxins from the algae they eat can accumulate in tissues and be transmitted to humans.

The three main categories of shellfish poisoning include paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), amnestic shellfish poisoning (ASP), and diarrheal shellfish poisoning (DSP).

These conditions are caused by toxins that can accumulate in the bivalves, causing neurological, gastrointestinal, and respiratory symptoms that can even be fatal in extreme cases.

Unfortunately, these toxins are not destroyed by cooking, so it is even more important to follow a few basic rules when eating bivalves. Here are some guidelines to follow to minimize potential hazards:

• Be sure to only eat bivalves from “open areas”, which are safe harvest areas that are regularly monitored and tested to reduce the risk of contamination.

• Avoid eating bivalves when traveling to developing countries where food safety standards may not be as high.

• Keep bivalves frozen or refrigerated until ready to use.


• Only buy and eat seafood from reputable and trusted suppliers.

• Seek medical attention immediately if you feel unwell after consuming bivalves.

Bivalves vs. Other shellfish

Shellfish can be divided into two main categories: mollusks and crustaceans; shrimp, crab, and lobster fall into the crustacean shellfish group, while bivalves are a type of mollusk.

So what is a mollusk? The definition of mollusk incorporates almost 85,000 species of invertebrate animals belonging to the phylum Mollusca.

Some characteristics of mollusks include a soft body, an inner or outer shell, and a muscular foot that helps to move; Besides bivalves, other examples of mollusks include slugs, snails, squid, cuttlefish, and octopus.

Crustaceans, on the other hand, have a segmented body and hard exoskeleton, as well as three mouthparts, two eyes, and two pairs of antennae.

Most people with a shellfish allergy are allergic to both mollusks and crustaceans; In some cases, you may be able to tolerate some types of shellfish, but doctors generally recommend avoiding all shellfish if you have an allergy.

Bivalves and shellfish share some similarities in terms of nutrition. Like bivalves, most varieties of shellfish tend to be low in calories but high in protein and micronutrients like selenium, niacin, and vitamin B12.


Seafood is a common staple food for many people around the world. However, like bivalves, certain types of shellfish can have significant health problems.

Shrimp, for example, make the list of healthy foods that you should never eat thanks to its content of additives and additional ingredients, as well as the pesticides and chemicals used in industrial shrimp production.

Not only that but shrimp are considered bottom feeders, which means they poke around the ocean floor and feed on the waste that accumulates there.

Like raw oysters, other types of raw shellfish can also be affected by strains of bacteria, such as   Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Vibrio vulnificus; It is important to cook the shellfish thoroughly to minimize the risk of infection.

History of bivalves

Bivalve benefits are believed to have been around for millions of years, with the first appearances of the bivalve fossil dating back to Cambrian times, about 510 million years ago; they are believed to have evolved from caraconchs, a class of extinct mollusks with a single shell and a muscular foot similar to that found in modern bivalves.

Bivalves have been harvested for consumption for many years. Oysters, for example, have been cultivated in Japan since 2000 BC. C. and they go back almost 10,000 years in Australia; Mussels, clams, and scallops have also been enjoyed for thousands of years around the world.

Bivalves also have historical significance in many forms of art, culture, and religion; scallops signify fertility and can be seen in many prominent paintings, such as Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus”; On the other hand, claims have been worshiped by the Moche civilization in ancient Peru and were even used as a form of currency by the Algonquin Indians.

Precautions on bivalves

If you have a shellfish allergy, you should avoid consuming bivalves and other types of shellfish such as shrimp, lobster, and crab; A shellfish allergy can trigger symptoms like itching, bloating, abdominal pain, and even anaphylaxis.


Also, be sure to cook bivalves thoroughly to reduce the risk of certain strains of bacteria, such as   Vibrio, if you experience any negative symptoms after eating bivalves, seek medical attention immediately; In addition to bacteria, contaminated bivalves can also contain toxins that can pose serious health problems.

To reduce the risk of adverse side effects, be sure to only consume bivalves harvested from open areas that are regularly inspected, buy from a reputable and trusted supplier, avoid eating bivalves when traveling to developing countries, and keep them refrigerated or frozen until you’re ready to use them.

Final thoughts on the benefits of bivalves

• Bivalves belong to the phylum of animal mollusks. Some of the common characteristics of bivalves include two shells that protect a soft inner body, tube-shaped siphons for eating and breathing, and a muscular foot that opens and closes the shell.

• Although there are more than 10,000 species of bivalves, the most common edible types include mussels, clams, oysters, and scallops.

• The benefits of bivalves are low in calories but high in protein, vitamin B12, selenium, zinc, and magnesium.

• The potential benefits of bivalves include protection against anemia, improved weight loss, and a reduced risk of heavy metal contamination.

• However, bivalves can transmit dangerous bacteria and toxins to humans, many of which are not removed by cooking.

• Practicing a few basic rules is key to consuming bivalves safely and minimizing the risk of infection and negative side effects


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