I recently learned that mussels are a great source of selenium. Selenium is a mineral that plays a key role in good health and has become more challenging to obtain through diet due to soil depletion from intensive farming practices: our veggies today have only a fraction of the selenium they used to have.
Benefits of selenium
- Vital component of our master antioxidant glutathione, therefore protecting every cell against free radical damage.
- Involved with anti-iflammatory and immune responses (alert cytokines, basically tells your immune system to get to work).
- Mandatory for proper thyroid function.
- Cancer & cardiovascular protective via increasing our body’s antioxidant capacity.
- Promotes healthy blood sugar levels. Selenium appears to mimic insulin and promote uptake of glucose into our cells where it can be used to make energy.
Other good sources of selenium
Aside from mussels, great food sources of selenium are Brazil nuts, liver, oysters, fish, shrimp, crab,sunflower seeds, bacon and pork chops.
Benefits of eating mussels
A 3-ounce portion of blue mussels gives you:
- 340% of your RDA of vitamin B12, great for the nervous system
- 700 mg Omega 3 fatty acids, great for reducing inflammation & is cardioprotective
- High amounts of folate, manganese, vitamin C, zinc, iron, and phosphorous (promotes health bones, immune system, and energy metabolism)
- Sustainable. Most farmed mussels use a system of ropes suspended from rafts or bouys and don’t come in contact with the ocean floor and therefore don’t contribute to habitat destruction.
I was surprised by how easy it is to cook mussels! Seriously, it takes only about 5 minutes from start to finish. If you buy farm raised mussels (easier to clean), all you need to do is:
- Rinse them off (wild mussels require scrubbing to remove sand & debris).
- Heat mussels in a deep pan with a cup or two of water on medium-high heat till water starts to boil. I did this with the lid on to heat them more quickly. I also tossed 2 cloves of garlic into the water.
- Reduce heat to medium and take off lid once water starts to boil. Use tongs to remove each mussel once it opens so that you don’t overcook the early-openers. All mussels should open within about 5 minutes. Don’t eat mussels that don’t open on their own.
It’s that easy! You can get really exotic when cooking mussels, however, they are delicious and flavorful simply steaming them with water and garlic as described above. For variety, use broth or coconut milk and mix up the herbs and spices.