Crabs, the fascinating crustaceans that inhabit the world’s oceans and coastal regions, have captivated seafood enthusiasts for centuries. With their distinctive appearance and delectable taste, crabs have become a popular choice for seafood lovers around the globe. Beyond their culinary appeal, crabs also offer a remarkable array of nutritional benefits that contribute to a well-rounded diet.
In this article, we will delve into the nutrition profile of crabs, examining their macronutrient composition, vitamin and mineral content, and the various health advantages associated with their consumption. From protein-packed servings to essential vitamins and minerals, crabs offer a wholesome addition to any diet. Furthermore, we will explore the best cooking and serving suggestions to make the most of these delectable sea creatures.
Whether you’re a seafood aficionado or simply seeking a nutritious and flavorful option, join us as we embark on an exploration of the vast nutritional bounty offered by crabs.
Nutritional Profile Of Crabs
According to USDA, 100 Grams of streamed, hard-shelled carb contains the following nutrients:
Water: 79.7 g
Energy: 83 kcal
Protein: 17.9 g
Fat: 0.74 g
Calcium: 91 mg
Phosphorous: 234 mg
Potassium: 259 mg
Sodium: 395 mg
Crabs offer a range of health benefits due to their nutrient-rich composition. Let’s delve into the specific advantages of consuming crabs:
Crabs are an excellent source of high-quality protein. The protein found in crabs is rich in essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein that the body cannot produce on its own. Here are some health benefits associated with the protein content in crabs:
Muscle Development and Repair: Protein is essential for muscle growth, repair, and maintenance. As per research, consuming dietary protein can support the development of lean muscle mass and aid in post-workout recovery.
Satiety and Weight Management: Protein has a higher satiety effect compared to carbohydrates and fats, meaning it can help you feel fuller for longer. Research shows that including protein in your meals can contribute to better appetite control and support weight management efforts.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Heart Health
Certain species of crabs, such as Dungeness and Alaskan King crabs, contain omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids offer numerous benefits for heart health:
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease: Omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. As per studies, they can help lower triglyceride levels, reduce blood pressure, and prevent the formation of blood clots.
Anti-inflammatory Effects: Studies prove that omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the body and contribute to overall cardiovascular health.
Read More: Why Should Omega-3 Be A Part Of Your Daily Diet?
Essential Vitamins and Minerals
Crabs are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, offering several health benefits:
Immune System Support: Vitamins, such as vitamin B12, and minerals like zinc, found in crabs play a vital role in supporting a healthy immune system. They help protect against infections and promote proper immune function.
Iron for Oxygen Transport: Iron, present in crabs, is crucial for the production of haemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen in the blood. Consuming crabs can help prevent iron deficiency anaemia and support overall energy levels.
Antioxidant Protection: Selenium, acts as an antioxidant in the body. According to studies, it helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, reducing the risk of chronic diseases and promoting overall well-being.
Crabs offer a range of health benefits. They are a protein powerhouse, aiding in muscle development and weight management. The presence of omega-3 fatty acids supports heart health and reduces inflammation. Additionally, crabs are rich in essential vitamins and minerals, contributing to immune system support, optimal brain function, and eye health. Including crabs in your diet can promote overall well-being and provide a nutritious addition to a balanced lifestyle.
Selection and Cooking Tips
Tips on Selecting and Buying Fresh Crabs:
Look for Live Crabs: When purchasing crabs, choose live ones whenever possible. They should be active, alert, and show signs of movement. Avoid crabs that appear sluggish or have a strong odour.
Check for Shell Integrity: Examine the crab’s shell for any cracks, holes, or damage. A healthy crab should have a hard and intact shell. Avoid crabs with broken or damaged shells, as they may indicate poor quality or mishandling.
Size and Gender: Male and female crabs have slightly different characteristics. Male crabs often have larger claws, which contain more meat, while female crabs have wider abdomens. Depending on your preference, you can select crabs based on gender and the part of the crab you intend to consume.
Cooking Methods for Preparing Crabs
Steaming: Steaming crabs is a popular and simple method. Place live crabs in a steamer basket over boiling water, cover, and steam until they turn bright red. Season with herbs and spices for added flavour.
Boiling: Boiling crabs is another common method. Submerge live crabs in a pot of boiling water seasoned with salt and spices. Cook for the required time based on the size of the crabs, and they’re ready to be enjoyed.
Grilling: Grilling crabs add a smoky and charred flavour. Clean the crabs, brush them with oil and seasoning, and place them on a preheated grill. Cook for a few minutes on each side until the shells turn vibrant and the meat is cooked through.
Baking: Baking crabs is a great option for stuffed crab recipes. Clean and prepare the crabs, stuff them with a flavorful mixture, and bake in the oven until the stuffing is cooked and the crabs are heated through.
Tasty Crabs Recipes To Try
Indian Crab Curry
8 whole crab, steamed or boiled
1 (½ inch) piece tamarind
½ cup water
Chopped Onions- 170 g
Chopped tomatoes – 280 g
10 dried chillies
2 Tbsp of garlic paste
1 Tbsp of Ginger Paste
2 Tbsp of ground Coriander
2 Tbsp of ground Cumin
½ tsp of Turmeric
½ tsp of Red chilli powder
2 green chillies, minced
1 Tbsp of coconut oil
3 cups of hot water (1 cup is 236 ml)
Salt to taste
- Remove the crab legs and set them aside. Remove the claws from the legs to that each leg is divided into 2 parts
- Using a cleaver, cut the crab bodies into halves or quarters. Set aside
- In a small bowl, set the tamarind in ½ cup of hot water for 10 minutes
- Mash the tamarind with your fingers to mix it well into the water
- Strain the tamarind through a sieve to extract all of the pulp and set the puree aside.
- In a food processor, add the onions, tomatoes, dried red chillies, garlic and ginger paste, all of the spices (coriander, cumin, turmeric, red chilli powder) and tamarind puree.
- Grind the mixture well to make a smooth paste
- Heat oil in a deep heavy bottomed pan
- Add the green chillies and the masala paste to the oil and saute for 5 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning
- Add 3 cups of hot water and bring the gravy to a boil
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add salt to taste
- Gently add the pieces of crab to the gravy and cook uncovered for 10-15 minutes
- Remove from the heat and serve piping hot with rice.
Big onion – 170 g
Tomato- 280 g, chopped finely
Ginger – 1-inch piece
Garlic cloves – 10
Fennel seeds – ½ Tbsp
Whole pepper -1 ½ Tsp
Curry leaves – 3 sprig
Green Chilli – 2
Coconut oil – 2 Tbsp
Chilli powder – 1 Tbsp
Kashmiri Chilli Powder – ¼ tsp
Coriander powder – 2 Tbsp
Garam masala powder- 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves – 2-3 sprigs, chopped
- Heat oil in a deep-bottomed pan
- Add pepper, fennel seeds, curry leaves and fry for 20-30 seconds
- Add ginger garlic paste, chopped green chilli and saute for a minute
- Add chopped onions and saute till the onions become golden brown
- Add all the spices one by one on a low flame and saute till the raw smell goes
- Add chopped tomatoes, and salt and stir well with the onion and close the pan and cook well on low flame
- Add the cleaned crab pieces, mix well and close the pan with a lid and cook
- Keep stirring from time to time
- When the gravy becomes thick open the lid and add some hot water
- Close and cook until the crab are well coated with the masala and cooked thoroughly
- Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.
Precautionary Tips and Suggestions
When handling and preparing crabs, it’s important to follow some precautionary tips and suggestions to ensure food safety and avoid any potential risks. Here are some precautionary tips to keep in mind:
Handling: When handling live crabs, be cautious of their pincers, as they can pinch and cause injury. Hold crabs firmly but gently, gripping them from the rear end or using tongs to avoid direct contact.
Cleaning: Before cooking, rinse live crabs thoroughly under cold water to remove any dirt or impurities. Use a brush to clean the shells if necessary.
Cooking: Ensure that crabs are cooked thoroughly to kill any potential bacteria or parasites. Follow cooking instructions and recommended cooking times for the specific recipe or cooking method you are using.
Allergies: Be aware of any potential allergies or sensitivities to shellfish. If you or anyone consuming the crabs has a known allergy, it’s important to avoid crab consumption to prevent allergic reactions.
Shell Fragments: While enjoying crab meat, be mindful of any small shell fragments that may be present. Take care to remove any shell pieces before consuming the crab meat to prevent any discomfort or injury.
Storage: If you have leftover cooked crabs, store them properly in airtight containers and refrigerate them promptly. Consume the leftovers within a day to ensure freshness and minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses.
Cooking Utensils: Use separate utensils and cutting boards for raw and cooked crabs to avoid the risk of cross-contamination. Clean and sanitize utensils and surfaces properly after each use.
All-in-One Cooking: If you are cooking live crabs, consider using the all-in-one cooking method (e.g., steaming or boiling) to minimize handling and reduce the risk of injury.
When consuming crabs, it is important to consider allergies and take precautionary measures. Shellfish allergies are common, and individuals with such allergies should avoid crab consumption and prevent cross-contamination. Proper labelling and awareness are essential to inform individuals of the presence of shellfish in dishes. For those with allergies, alternative options like imitation crab meat or plant-based substitutes can provide similar flavours. It is advised to consult healthcare professionals for proper diagnosis and management of allergies. By prioritizing safety and being mindful of allergies, everyone can enjoy crab dishes without risks or discomfort.
Can crab meat be a part of a healthy diet? Yes. It is a very healthy food to eat in moderation, once or twice a week is good to go. Also always be mindful about portion size and opt for healthy cooking methods. Crab has many of the same nutritional benefits as other popular types of seafood but with lower levels of mercury. Add steamed or boiled crab meat to salads, soups, sandwiches or wraps to add a healthy dose of nutrients.
In conclusion, crabs are more than just a delectable seafood delicacy—they are also a nutritional powerhouse. Packed with protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, crabs offer numerous health benefits, ranging from muscle development and heart health to immune system support. When selecting crabs, prioritize freshness and shell integrity, and be mindful of potential shellfish allergies. By following proper handling, cooking, and storage practices, you can ensure the safety and enjoyment of crab dishes. So, whether you’re indulging in classic recipes or trying out new creations, incorporating crabs into your diet can provide both culinary pleasure and essential nutrients for a well-rounded lifestyle.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information please contact our certified nutritionists Here
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Are crabs healthy to eat?
Yes, crabs are healthy to eat. They offer a range of nutritional benefits, including being a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. However, it’s important to consider personal dietary needs and potential allergies when including crabs in your diet.
Q. Are there any benefits to eating crabs?
Yes, there are several benefits to eating crabs. They provide essential nutrients that support muscle development, heart health, immune function, and overall well-being. The protein content in crabs aids in muscle repair and satiety, while omega-3 fatty acids promote cardiovascular health.
Q. Is crab good for pregnancy?
Crabs can be a beneficial addition to a balanced diet during pregnancy. It is a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other essential nutrients. However, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to ensure that crab consumption aligns with individual dietary needs and any specific recommendations during pregnancy.
Q. Is crab good for high blood pressure?
Crabs can be a suitable food choice for individuals with high blood pressure. It is low in saturated fat and a good source of protein and minerals, such as potassium. However, it’s important to be mindful of portion sizes and cooking methods. Steaming or boiling crabs without adding excessive salt or high-sodium seasonings is a healthier option.
Is crab okay to eat with high cholesterol?
When consumed in moderation, the crab can be included in a diet for individuals with high cholesterol. While crab does contain some cholesterol, it is also low in saturated fat and can provide beneficial nutrients. It is advisable to consider the overall dietary pattern, including portion sizes and other sources of dietary cholesterol, and consult with a healthcare professional for personalized dietary recommendations.
- Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6566799/
- Increased Dietary Protein as a Dietary Strategy to Prevent and/or Treat Obesity: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6179508/
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Coronary Heart Disease: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=1&contentid=3054
- Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12480795/
- Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/#:~:text=Free%20radicals%20damage%20contributes%20to,or%20by%20promoting%20their%20decomposition.
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