Scallops are a type of shellfish eaten all over the world.
They live in saltwater environments and are caught in fisheries off the coasts of numerous countries.
The so-called adductor muscles inside their colorful shells are edible and sold as seafood. When prepared correctly, they have a slightly sweet taste and a tender, buttery texture.
Scallops are highly nutritious and may have impressive health benefits. However, people are often concerned about possible allergic reactions and the accumulation of heavy metals.
This article takes a detailed look at both the health benefits and possible dangers of eating scallops.
Like most other fish and shellfish, sea scallops have an impressive nutritional profile.
Three ounces (84 grams) of steamed scallops pack (1):
- Calories: 94
- Carbs: 0 grams
- Fat: 1.2 grams
- Protein: 19.5 grams
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 333 mg
- Vitamin B12: 18% of the recommended daily value (DV)
- Calcium: 9% of the DV
- Iron: 15% of the DV
- Magnesium: 12% of the DV
- Phosphorous: 27% of the DV
- Potassium: 12% of the DV
- Zinc: 18% of the DV
- Copper: 12% of the DV
- Selenium: 33% of the DV
Scallops are an excellent source of several trace minerals, including selenium, zinc and copper. These minerals are important to human health, yet some people may not get enough of them.
Adequate selenium intake promotes a healthy immune system and proper thyroid function. Zinc is necessary for brain function and healthy growth, and copper may protect against diabetes and heart disease (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7).
Including scallops in your diet can provide you with these important trace minerals, as well as high-quality protein and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
May Aid Weight Loss
Low in calories and high in protein, scallops may be helpful if you’re trying to lose weight.
Research shows that reducing your total calorie intake while moderately increasing protein may promote weight loss (8Trusted Source, 9).
A 3-ounce (84-gram) serving of scallops provides close to 20 grams of protein for less than 100 calories (1).
Protein helps people feel full and satisfied, which can lead to a decrease in overall calorie intake. What’s more, it may increase metabolism and help your body burn more energy (8Trusted Source, 9).
A 26-week study in 773 people found that participants on a high-protein diet (25% of daily calories) lost on average 5% more of their body weight, compared to those on a low-protein diet (13% of daily calories).
In addition, the low-protein group gained an average of 2.2 pounds (1.01 kg) back (10Trusted Source).
Scallops and fish may also have unique properties that promote weight loss better than other protein sources (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
Good for Your Brain and Nervous System
Scallops contain certain nutrients that are important for your brain and nervous system.
Three ounces (84 grams) of scallops contain 18% of the DV for both vitamin B12 and zinc, as well as over 300 mg of omega-3 fatty acids (1).
Adequate amounts of these nutrients ensure proper nervous system development and may reduce your risk of mental conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and mood disorders (13Trusted Source).
One study found that babies born to women who had low vitamin B12 levels during pregnancy had slowed brain function nine years later. These children took over 20 seconds longer to complete cognitive tests than those of women with adequate B12 levels (14Trusted Source).
Another study showed that supplementing with B12 can reduce homocysteine levels by 30% and improve brain function. Too much homocysteine is linked to a higher risk of mild mental impairment (15Trusted Source).