Squid is a popular seafood all over the world. It’s cheap, versatile, and tasty. It can be grilled, seared, boiled, braised, and even eaten raw as sashimi.
One of the most popular preparations of squid is chopped, breaded, and fried. This is popularly referred to as calamari, though the term ‘calamari’ technically encompasses any squid eaten as food. Fried calamari has more calories than most other preparations of calamari.
Commercially fished squids are typically caught offshore, sometimes far out at sea. Many different squid species are fished and eaten. In 2002, the most commonly caught squid species were the European squid, the Argentine shortfin squid, the jumbo flying squid, and the Japanese flying squid. The jumbo flying squid fishery is currently the most productive in the world.
Clearly, there’s high demand for squid. This begs the question, what health benefits and risks come with squid consumption?
A 4-ounce serving of raw squid contains:
- Calories: 104
- Protein: 18 grams
- Fat: 2 grams
- Carbohydrates: 3 grams
- Fiber: 0 grams
Calamari is also a good source of:
Potential Health Benefits of Squid
The health benefits of squid are often linked to its high protein content. Other benefits are tied to its polyunsaturated fatty acid content, also known as omega-3 fatty acids.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration highlights fish as a healthy food for those who are pregnant and breastfeeding. The protein and iron content of squid are considered particularly important for women who are pregnant.
The link between omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil and heart health has been well researched. However, the balance of fatty acids in calamari oil is somewhat different than in typical fish oils on the market.
The fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is higher in squid than in other seafood. DHA has been shown to improve resting heart rate. DHA-rich oils, like calamari oil, may also help reduce platelet aggregation for women.
Research on the omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood indicates that they help soothe the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Participants in a study reported shorter periods of morning joint stiffness and reduced joint swelling and pain.
Potential Risks of Squid
Squid is generally considered a safe food in moderation. The main health risks of squid and shellfish come from their mercury levels and allergies.
As with any shellfish, squid carries a risk of allergic reaction. A substance called tropomyosin is the likely culprit. If you have a shellfish allergy, you should avoid squid.
Seafood has long been known to contain mercury. A build-up of mercury in the body can cause serious harm, especially for children. The FDA considers squid one of the ‘Best Choices’ for seafood, meaning it contains relatively low levels of mercury. Still, it is good to remember that any squid you consume likely contains mercury.
It's recommended that adults eat squid and other ‘Best Choices’ seafood at most two or three times per week in 4-ounce servings. For children between two and 11, the recommended serving size is 1 ounce.