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Shellfish, and specifically bivalve mollusks, are products that we can find in general throughout the year, but at Christmas they take on a special role. They are often used as an aperitif but have many other applications.

Shellfish, and specifically bivalve mollusks, are products that we can find in general throughout the year, but at Christmas they take on a special role. They are often used as an aperitif but have many other applications. They are interesting foods, rich in nutrients and that we must conserve carefully as they are very perishable.

Few fats, mainly unsaturated

Mollusks are not very caloric foods because their fat content is low (100 g of food provide around 70-70 Kcal, 10-12% proteins, 2% lipids, approximately 1-2% carbohydrates). carbon and generally between 50 and 80 g of cholesterol). For a while, seafood in general has had a very bad reputation for its cholesterol content.

In this group, bivalve molluscs are those that contain lower amounts of cholesterol, but it must also be taken into account that the shellfish group has less potential to increase cholesterol than other foods because they contain unsaturated fatty acids and little amount of saturated fatty acids . We must also mention its purine content, which due to its transformation into uric acid, makes shellfish a food to limit in case of hyperuricemia.

Rich in minerals

They are foods rich in minerals , as they contain not inconsiderable amounts of sodium, potassium and phosphorus, although each type is different. We must highlight its iron content and also calcium. Although we do not usually eat a lot of these foods, they can be a good supplementary help in our diet if we have high needs for these micronutrients. Regarding vitamins, they contain high amounts of B12 and generally provide us with group B vitamins , although they deteriorate when cooked. They also provide vitamin A.


Who are they suitable for and who are not?

They are recommended for:

  • Weight loss diets: their low fat content makes them low-calorie foods of animal origin and therefore can be part of weight loss diets. Now, it is important to take into account the way of preparation, since while steaming or grilling we will obtain low-calorie samples, if we accompany them with sauces or fry them, we will increase their energy content.
  • Iron deficiency anemia and high iron needs: although the amounts that we usually take from mollusks are low, their intake is a good complement for those people who have increased iron needs such as people with iron deficiency anemia, athletes and pregnant women. In this second case, the origin of the seafood must be well known and eaten well cooked.

They are not suitable in case of:

  • Digestive difficulties: the proteins of shellfish are more fibrous than those of fish, they contain more collagen, for this reason they are foods that are more difficult to digest.
  • High uric acid: people with hyperuricemia should control the intake of these foods by limiting it to very small amounts on very special occasions as their purine content favors hyperuricemia.
  • Allergy or intolerance to these products: allergies to fish and shellfish are less frequent than to other products such as eggs or milk, but they tend to generate serious conditions, so people who are sensitive to these foods should eliminate them from their diet.

How to take them

Mussels, clams, cockles, razor clams … they are typical aperitif products, but we should not stay just with that idea, since they can be part of salads, pasta or rice dishes, accompany a fish or even meat …

With them we can create or decorate skewers, skewers or montaditos, stuff a scallop, etc. They can be used to make sauces and even “patés” or spreads on canapé-style toasts or giving body to a cake along with a fish, with other seafood …

Buying and conservation advice

Seafood is a delicate product by nature. If we buy them fresh, we must be guided by their appearance and smell and check that they show signs of life, since they are acquired while still alive. We can also buy them frozen, in which case we will check that the freezing has been done well and the cold chain has not been broken, otherwise, they would be very full of ice or frost.

We will review the condition of the container in case they are sold packaged. We must take into account, in any case, the origin of this type of animals since they are filter feeders and if they are collected in contaminated areas they will contain a large amount of undesirable (or toxic) products. If we buy them fresh, their useful life is very short, because in a few hours they can spoil.

Therefore, it is convenient to cook them and keep them cooked if we wish to store them. If otherwise we buy them frozen we can keep them for weeks or even months in complete safety. Another form of conservation and consumption is canned (pickled, natural, in oil or in sauce). In this way they can be kept for long periods of time.


We will discard those that do not close when touched as it will mean that they are already dead. We must also discard those that do not open when cooked, since in many cases they will be specimens full of earth or clay.

The recipe

Mussel pate toasts



  • 300 g of leeks
  • 200 g mussels without shell
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 medium potato
  • Tostaditas


Cook the mussels and save the cooking broth. In a small saucepan, poach the leeks, potatoes, and onion over low heat and add the cooking water for the mussels. Once everything is cooked and soft, add the mussels and grind everything well. We already have our “pate”. We spread the toasts and as we wish we can decorate with slices of cherry tomato and / or black olive or with parsley leaves. Imagination to the power!

  • Specimens: within bivalve mollusks we find cockles, clams, mussels, razor clams, oysters, scallops, etc.
  • Benefits: they are low in calories, rich in minerals such as calcium and iron, and contain less cholesterol than other seafood.
  • Ideal in: weight control diets, high needs in iron and calcium.



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