Search Google Appliance


Why Oysters Don't Get Hypertension

Why Oysters Don't Get Hypertension

I have an admission to make: I don't know everything. This includes the physiology of oysters, other bivalves, or basically anything that lives in the ocean. This came out rather comically in a recent blog meeting:

Kenton: "Are there foods high in sodium that might be a surprise for people?"

Joanna: "What about seafood?"

Kenton: "Seafood isn't high in sodium."

Joanna: "Even though it lives in salt water?"

Kenton: "So, you're wondering if the salt water acts as some sort of permanent brine?"

We all start laughing.

Andrea: [Coming to my defence…] "Some seafood is high in sodium. I think that's all she's saying."

Dean: [Smirking] "I don't think that's what she was trying to say."

Joanna: "OK Mr. Smarty Pants. How do they get rid of it?"

Kenton: "They have systems." ("Systems" was said with air quotes because Kenton didn't know the details and was trying to be elusive).

Joanna: "Systems?" (I repeat the air quotes).

Kenton: "Yes, systems." (More air quotes. Air quotes are the best).

Joanna: "Oh. Ok. Well – new slant – what if I write about the fact that seafood isn't high in sodium because many people probably think it is?"

So before I wrote this blog I searched Canadian Nutrient File for the actual sodium content of seafood. Perhaps Kenton was right. All the seafood products with the highest sodium levels were those that had been salted, brined or smoked. That's when I found these little nuggets of bragging gold (naturally higher sodium seafood choices):

Food Sodium Content (per 75 gram portion)
Crab, Alaska king, boiled or steamed 804mg
Mollusks, cuttlefish, mixed species, boiled or steamed 558mg
Crab, Atlantic snow crab (spider, queen), boiled or steamed 518mg

Unfortunately for my ego, most seafood is quite low in sodium:

Food Sodium Content (per 75 gram portion)
Mollusks, octopus, common, boiled or steamed 345mg
Lobster, american (northern), boiled or steamed 285mg
Mollusks, mussel, blue, boiled or steamed 277mg
Mollusks, scallop (bay and sea), cooked, steamed 199mg
Shrimp, mixed species, boiled or steamed 168mg
Mollusks, oyster, pacific, boiled or steamed 159mg
Halibut, Atlantic or Pacific, baked or broiled 52mg
Salmon, sockeye (red), baked or broiled 50mg
Tuna, light, canned in water, drained, unsalted 38mg

From a nutrition perspective, this is fantastic. Seafood is a great source of protein, is low in saturated fat and contains varying amounts of omega-3 fats which have a number of positive health functions. Even crab and cuttlefish, which are higher in sodium, can be great choices when you consider the overall context of the meal and pair them with lower sodium options.

So Kenton, I guess most seafood does actually have a "system" for dealing with all that salt in sea water. This is probably why oysters, which have an incredibly stressful job creating pearls, don't get hypertension. I assume we can agree that we were both right on this one?!



HealthyFamilies BC Tools

Breastfeeding Buddy

Breastfeeding Buddy


Sodium Sense

Sodium Sense


Your Virtual Shopping Tour

Shopping Sense


How Much Sugar Are You Drinking?

Sugary Drink Sense