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Oyster is a mollusk and has a segmented softer inner body. This is covered by two hard shells on the outside. The size of the shells increases as the animal grows. Oyster belongs to Ostereidae family and is bivalve. Across the globe, there are 100’s of species of Oysters but only a few are cultivated for their nutritional value. Oysters have a high nutritional value and are rich in proteins, minerals, and vitamins.
Oyster’s exports have greatly increased in the recent years by the sea facing countries. Some of the major exporters of Oysters include Korea, Philippines, Thailand, etc.
Cultivation of Oysters:
Oysters get the flavors, texture and the appearance of the water they grow in. So it is important to see the habitat and water that is used for the cultivation. Oysters grown loosely develop hard shells as a protective covering.
While the oysters which are grown in cages tend to have softer outer shells. The flavors of the oysters which are grown in closed environment tend to be more delicate. Also, the oysters grown by tumbling process are cupped as their edges are worn off frequently due to the tumbling. There are various processes used for cultivation depending on the requirement like:
• Bags to beach: In this case, oysters are grown inside a mesh bag and are stacked one over the other in the intertidal zone. The mesh provides protection from the predators.
• Beaches: these oysters are grown loosely at the bottom of the intertidal zone. These grow a bit slower and are hardened due to the natural environment.
• Bottom Planted: These are grown at the bottom of the estuary and are generally grown by the divers. The oysters developed through this are big cups and are more flavored.
• Longline: This is an older technique and includes cultivation of the oysters on the long ropes, some distance above the bottom of the sea.
• Off-Bottom cages: In this technique, oysters are grown in the cages slightly above the bottom of the sea. The cages prevent them from predation and also help in producing thin-shelled Oysters.
• Rack and Bag: This technique involves growing Oysters in mesh bags which is further attached to the metal racks. In this, the oysters are grown slightly above the bottom of the bay. This technique also helps in saving them from the predators and lead to the production of thin-shelled oysters.
• Salt pond: In this technique, oysters are grown in rectangular pools in the inter-tidal zone. This technique uses the water collected during low tide. This technique is used only in France. In this, the Oysters feed on the phytoplankton. The oysters grown by this method become very fat, also depending on the species of planktons use to feed them.
• Semi-Tumbled: In this, the oysters are grown in a suspension and are occasionally tumbled into mechanical tumblers and returned back to suspension. This result in the formation of hard-shelled and deep cup Oysters.
• Suspended: Oysters are produced by hanging them using a raft. The techniques result in faster growth of the oysters. The oysters produced through this technique are thin shelled and have a lighter flavor.
• Tumbled: These oysters are either grown in a suspension and are regularly tumbled into a metal rack or they are grown in long bags. The bag invert with the rising and falling tides. Due to the movement, the oysters get continuously chipped off. The continuous movement results in stronger shells, deep cups and is flavored. The process requires a longer time because of the slowing down of the process. As a result of the more time used in cultivation, these are slightly expensive.
• Wild: These oysters are grown without any planned way of cultivation. Oysters grown through this technique grow on the rocks, on the shells or the intertidal area. These are cultivated by the divers at low tide. These are irregular in shape and flavor.
Nutritional Value of Oysters:
Oysters have very high content of vitamins and minerals. For some food minerals and vitamins, they are regarded as the best food source. Oysters are the premier source of zing in the entire world. Oysters are also rich in certain other vitamins and minerals like proteins, vitamin D, Iron, Copper, selenium, and manganese. There are also a grear source for vitamin B12.
They also have a high content of vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium.
Oysters are also known to have a high content of good cholesterol, antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, and water. The richness of vitamins and minerals can help in boosting the overall health of the person.
8 Health Benefits of Oysters:
Oysters because of the very high content of vitamins and minerals provide a host of health benefits. Some of the health benefits include:
Oysters have a huge content of Zinc in them; Inclusion of oysters can provide more than 15 times of the body’s zinc requirements. Zinc can help people boost their sexual performance and libido.
Zinc can also help men suffering from erectile dysfunction or sexual dysfunction. The inclusion of oysters in the diet can help men gain the sexual desire back.
2. Weight loss:
Oysters have a very high nutrient content versus the calorie content they have. Thus, it can help people who want to lose weight by providing the mineral requirements of the body without increasing the calorie count. In comparison to chicken, they have half the calories. However, this should not be used by obese people because of the high sodium content in them which might worsen the situation for them.
3. Protein Content:
Oysters are also a very good source for the proteins. The human body breaks the proteins through enzymes and is restructured in the form desired by humans. The proteins are a useful part of muscle growth, cellular growth, tissue repair, metabolic activities etc. thus they have a huge importance for the body. A single serving of the oysters can fulfill one-third of the body’s protein requirement for the day.
4. Protect heart health:
Oysters are very good for the health of the heart. They have a high content of Omega 3 fatty acids as compared to Omega 6 fatty acids, thus they help in providing increasing the good cholesterol in the body compare to bad cholesterol. It also helps in preventing the plaque formation in the walls of the arteries. The presence of Potassium and magnesium in the oysters also help in the reduction of blood pressure which reduces the strain on the heart and the surrounding organs.
Also, Oysters contain Vitamin E which strengthens the cellular membranes providing them strength and flexibility.
The increased levels of Zinc in oysters help to boost the immunity of the person. Oysters also help in the faster healing of the wounds. Zinc also helps in preparing the body’s defense mechanism for fighting the microbes and any infections caused because of them. Oysters also help in the proper growth of the body and its functions in children and adults.
6. Blood circulation:
Oysters are a great source of iron. With a single meal of oysters can provide 90% of the body’s daily requirement. Iron helps in the formation of red blood cells which prevents the condition of anemia. Thus intake of oysters can prevent various anemia associated disorders like fatigue, cognitive malfunction, muscle weakness etc. The sufficient amount of Red Blood cells (RBCs) in the body helps to transfer adequate quantity of oxygen to all the organs of the body. Thus it helps in the proper growth and functioning of the body organs. This also helps in increasing the metabolic activities of the body.
7. Bone health:
Oysters as mentioned earlier contain a host of vitamins and minerals. Oysters contain minerals like calcium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, copper, and selenium. These minerals are required for the healthy development of the bones. These minerals are also required to maintain the bone mineral density. They also help in building the strength and durability of the bones. Thus, the adequate content of minerals and vitamins in bones help in preventing bone associated disease like osteoporosis.
8. Body’s immune system:
Inclusion of oysters in the diet helps to increase the immunity. The Oysters contain vitamin C, E and a lot of minerals, these minerals and vitamins have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The anti-oxidant properties of these help to fight free radicles which lead to the growth of cancerous cells and also lead to the reduction of wrinkles. This help in delaying aging by fighting these free radicles.
Oysters are a host of minerals, vitamins minerals etc. and can provide drastic effects to increase the levels of these and help cure the deficiency of these minerals. However, there are certain things that a person should be aware while eating these. The content of vitamins and minerals present in the oysters is dependent on the place where the cultivation of these has been done. The place which is used for the growth of these can also lead to the presence of the toxic substance in oysters. So one should be cognizant of the place and the cultivation way used for the oysters.
Also, the content of these minerals and vitamins is so high, it can lead to diseases related to mineral overdose e.g. overdose of iron can lead to hemochromatosis. Therefore one should take notice of the symptoms and also consume these in moderation. These should also not be consumed by people having the history of heart disease or obesity due to high sodium content in them.