You’ve likely heard the rumor that oysters give your libido a boost — and there may be some truth to that — but what we know for sure is that these delicacies from the sea are packed with essential nutrients that support your overall health. The hitch? Due to their cost and lack of availability, fresh oysters aren’t a go-to for most folks. Plus, some people hate the very things that others love about fresh oysters: their slimey, briney taste. Canned — both boiled and smoked oysters — are much cheaper and easy to find in the grocery store. Plus, they boast a very different taste profile and mouth feel than their fresh brethren.
Are canned oysters good for you?
Yes — a 1-cup serving has just 120 calories and boasts 12 grams of protein. And they’re an easy way to boost your daily intake of key vitamins and minerals. Here’s all the benefits canned oysters offer:
They are great source of vitamin B — especially B12
Canned oysters are a great source of various micronutrients necessary to keep our vital organs and immune system functioning properly. For instance, 1 cup of drained, canned oysters is rich in vitamin B12, containing over 1,400 percent of our daily recommended intake. The older you are, the more likely you are to have a vitamin B12 deficiency that can result in extreme tiredness and mental fogginess. Canned oysters are also a good source vitamin B1 (22 percent), B2 (22 percent), B3 (14 percent), and B6 (13 percent).
They are packed with iron for extra energy
One cup of canned oysters contain 12 milligrams (mg) of iron — that’s 66 percent of women’s daily needs. Maintaining proper iron levels is important for the health of your whole body, and it also keeps age-related hair loss at bay. “Low iron levels inhibit hair growth — and I’ve also found that women low in iron don’t respond well to hair-loss treatments,” says dermatologist George Cotsarelis, MD. In addition, maintaining sufficient iron levels is crucial for women because iron helps provide oxygen to muscles and aids in hormone production. If you’ve ever been anemic, you know what it feels like: low energy levels and constant fatigue.
They boast lots of copper for firm, beautiful skin
A single cup of canned or smoked oysters contains 873 percent of our daily copper needs. Copper is important for strengthening the immune system, supporting eye health and maintaining a strong heart and bones. It has beauty benefits, too: Copper increases collagen and elastin production in the skin, making it more firmer and more resilient. Though deficiencies are rare, they can lead to heart and bone issues.
They are a terrific source of selenium to heal the thyroid
One cup of canned or smoked oysters contains 115 percent of our daily selenium needs. Selenium strengthens the immune system, benefits cognitive health and helps the body fight inflammation. It may also help protect you against cancer and heart disease. You also need it “to keep your thyroid happy and functioning well,” says Sara Gottfried, MD. A happy thyroid means a happy you since it helps you maintain energy, mood, and a healthy weight.
Tip: Oysters are also a top source of zinc. Click through to discover the immunity-boosting benefits of zinc.
How to eat canned oysters
Canned oysters are either smoked or boiled, then packed in oil or water. These variables affect the taste, but canned oysters are generally salty and only slightly fishy, easy to bite into and not slimy at all — unlike their raw counterparts. They’re fully cooked and safe to eat right out of the can. The great thing is that you can prepare canned oysters in the same way you would raw ones. Keep scrolling for recipes using canned oysters:
Smoked Oyster Spread
This recipe from Spicy Southern Kitchen comes together in minutes since it uses things you already have, but it tastes like it took much longer to make.
- 1 package cream cheese, softened
- 1 can smoked oysters
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- ⅛ tsp. Cayenne pepper
- Mix ingredients until combined.
- Serve with crackers or veggies.
Want fried oysters in a pinch? With an air fryer, these bites from Summer Yule only take 10 minutes — no hot oil required.
- 8 oz. canned oysters
- 1 large egg
- ½ tsp. Old Bay seasoning
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. dried parsley
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Drain and rinse canned oysters, and dry on paper towels.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine egg and Old Bay seasoning.
- In a large-sized bowl, combine panko, garlic powder, parsley, salt and paper.
- Coat oysters in egg mixture, lifting them out with a fork, one at a time, and placing into panko mixture. Stir to coat completely.
- Place coated oysters in single layer in air fryer tray or basket.
- Cook for 8 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Serve with fresh lemon wedges and cocktail sauce, if desired.
These quick and delicious appetizers from Jennifer Meyering will be a crowd pleaser at your next get-together. Use smoked oysters for an extra savory kick.
- 8 oz. bacon
- 8 oz. canned oysters, drained
- 4 tsp. granulated sugar
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine sugar, soy sauce and garlic in shallow baking dish.
- Wrap each oyster with ½ slice of bacon and place in baking dish, seam side down.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes until sauce is thickened and bacon has crispy edges.
Oysters are delicious and healthy, and the best part? You don’t have to shuck them. Stock your pantry and enjoy.