Dr. Sunil - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Sunil

Are Mussels Bad For You?



Short answer

Mussels are not bad for you when they are fresh and "in season". In fact, they are a great source of protein, vitamin B12, and iron.



Recommended Alternative

Long answer

Mussels are a delicious addition to pastas, chowders, and paella, but are they really a safe shellfish for you to eat? The research would suggest that as long as you know what to look out for--and when in the year to eat them-- they are not only safe, but good for you in that they provide your body with lots of protein, iron, and vitamin B12.

It is often difficult to get vitamin B12 into your diet, but mussels are a fantastic natural source of this vital nutrient. Not only does vitamin B12 help your body effectively use iron, but it aids in mood regulation, turning food into energy, and enabling your nervous system to function properly. Protein is necessary for muscle repair, for providing your body with energy and for helping every cell in your body function normally. Iron supports your immune system and is an essential component of hemoglobin. It combats anemia which in turn fights fatigue and weakness. On top of this, mussels contain vitamin C and A, which strengthen your immune system and protect your eyes and skin; selenium, which supports protein function; and manganese, which regulates blood sugar and blood clotting. Unfortunately, mussels are also high in sodium and cholesterol, so should be avoided or eaten in moderation if you are watching your cholesterol.

In certain areas of the world, along certain coastlines, the red tides cause mussels to become toxic, and consequently should be avoided. This is true, for example, of the west coast of the United States during the warmer months of the year. A rule of thumb that many often go by is to only eat mussels in months that have an R in the name. Of course, this rule works only in the northern hemisphere. It has also long been advised that you should discard any mussel that remains closed after cooking, as it was believed this indicated they were contaminated. However, this has recently been contested with the explanation that the heat of cooking simply may not have loosened the adductor muscles that hold the shell together, as it did the other ones. More research is needed at this point however so you may choose to eat the unopened mussels at your own potential risk.

So long as you know the basic (and low) risks of eating mussels, you can happily include mussels in your diet knowing that they will do you a lot more good than harm.

Possible short-term side effects

  • food poisoning (if mussels are not fresh or if they are prepared incorrectly)

Possible long-term side effects

  • high cholesterol

Ingredients to be aware of


  • strengthens immune system
  • regulates mood
  • regulates blood sugar
  • combats anemia
  • supports nervous system

Healthier alternatives

  • fin fish (lower in sodium)

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Crown Prince Smoked Oysters

  • Naturally smoked
  • Packed in olive oil
  • Convenient 3-Oz cans
  • 18-can bulk pack
  • Rich in nutrients
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Lindsay
Published on: 01-23-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Lindsay
Published on: 01-23-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

Random Page

Check These Out!