Scallops are widely considered one of the healthiest seafoods. Made up of 80% protein and sporting a low fat content, they can help you feel fuller longer and are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are also a great source of antioxidants. These nutrients protect your body against cell damage linked with a range of chronic diseases.
In traditional East Asian medicine, scallops are used as a treatment for conditions like diabetes and indigestion. Modern research also studies scallop proteins for their potential use in antitumor drugs and cancer treatments.
While this research is ongoing, many studies have found that scallops' nutritional content can offer health benefits. Fresh scallops should be available during the fishing season in your area, but they’re available frozen at most supermarkets year-round.
A 3-ounce serving of steamed scallops contains:
- Calories: 94
- Protein: 17 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Carbohydrates: 5 grams
- Fiber: 0 grams
- Sugar: 0 grams
Scallops are a good source of:
Scallops also contain omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats help regulate your heartbeat, support nervous system function, and may support memory.
Potential Health Benefits of Scallops
Scallops offer a range of vitamins and minerals that can benefit your health. They contain high levels of zinc, which can help balance hormones and improve memory. A serving of scallops also meets the daily requirement for Vitamin B12, an antioxidant associated with healthy cognitive function.
Other research-backed health benefits of scallops include:
The high magnesium content in scallops can contribute to heart health as well. This mineral helps relax blood vessels, which can lower your blood pressure and improve circulation. One study found that those with low magnesium levels had up to a 54% greater risk of dying from heart disease.
May Prevent Stroke
Research shows the fatty acids in scallops can improve blood flow and reduce clots that lead to stroke. One study found that people who eat fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids between two and four times a week lowered their stroke risk by up to 48%.
Scallops are an excellent source of lean protein. Research shows that high-protein diets can help with weight loss, as you feel fuller for longer. Protein may also boost your metabolism.
Studies show that the magnesium in scallops can reduce muscle cramps, repair tissue, and increase muscle strength. Because of these effects, maintaining adequate levels of magnesium in your diet may reduce your risk of osteoporosis and other mobility-related conditions.
Potential Risks of Scallops
Scallops are considered safe for most people, but may cause problems for those with certain conditions. Consider the following health risks of scallops when adding them to your diet:
As scallops are a member of the shellfish family, avoid them if you have an allergy to seafood like oysters, mussels, and clams.
Researchers have found some heavy metals in samples of scallop, like mercury, lead, and cadmium. While the levels are below what’s considered dangerous for human consumption, high amounts can lead to health problems, including cancer.
Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning
Shellfish harvested from polluted or algae-rich waters can contain bacteria that can cause stomach pain and diarrhea. Shellfish fishing areas are tested frequently for this bacteria, so you can limit this risk by buying from a reputable source.
Because of the risk of harmful bacteria and heavy metals in some seafood, pregnant women should avoid shellfish like scallops.