Crab Nutrition: The Good, The Bad, And Everything Else

Written by Varsha Patnaik , MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Diet & Nutrition Coach

Do you wonder what crab meat tastes like or what the rage over crab meat is all about? If yes, then you’re in the right place. If you like seafood, you will surely love crab meat. Juicy, tender, and heavenly. A plate of succulent crab meat is not just a gastronomical delight, but a nutritional delight too! You are about to find out how, because here is your ultimate guide to crab nutrition.

What Are Crabs?

Crabs are terrestrial and aquatic creatures that are most commonly found in coastal regions. Similar to lobsters and crayfish, crabs are crustaceans that belong to the arthropod family. They have a hard outer shell that is made up of a protein called chiton and have four pairs of legs with two large claws. Male crabs are larger and meatier than female crabs. It is estimated that there are about 4500 species of crabs that can be found in both freshwater and saltwater. Blue crabs, king crab, and snow crab are some of the most commonly consumed varieties of crabs.

Let us take a look at the nutrients of crab meat in the next section.

Nutritional Information

Crab meat is packed with vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and selenium (1).

Crab Meat Nutritional Values Per 100g

NameAmountValues
Energy97kcal
Protein19.4g
Total Fat1.54g
Carbohydrates0g
Dietary Fiber0g
Calcium59mg
Iron0.76mg
Cholesterol53mg
Magnesium63mg
Phosphorous280mg
Potassium262mg
Sodium1070mg
Zinc7.62mg
Selenium40μg
Vitamin C7.6mg
Thiamin0.053mg
Riboflavin0.005mg
Niacin1.34mg
Vitamin B60.18mg
Totale Folate51μg

From the above table, you can say that crab meat definitely packs a punch in the nutrition department. All of the minerals have numerous health benefits that will be discussed in the next section.

Health Benefits Of Crab Meat

Crab meat contains valuable nutrients like protein that is essential for building muscle (1). It is also rich in selenium and folate that are good for your health. If you are wondering, is crab meat healthy, the answer is, yes! Here are a few potential health benefits of crab meat in greater detail.

  • Improves Bone Health

Crab meat is rich in calcium and phosphorus that are essential for the formation and strengthening of bones. Studies suggest that consuming seafood like crab may help in reducing calcium deficiency (2), (3).

  • May Help Reduce The Risk Of Heart Diseases

Crab meat contains considerable amounts of omega-3 fatty acids that help in reducing the risk of heart diseases. It may also help in preventing obesity. Research shows that consuming food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps reduce LDL cholesterol and lowers the risk of heart issues (2).

  • May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease And Dementia

Seafood like crab meat contains long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and plasma fatty acids. Small studies suggest that eating seafood like crab may have a positive effect in reducing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (4). Further research is required to establish its effectiveness.

  • May Help Improve Eyesight, Reduce Inflammation, And Prevent Arthritis

Studies suggest that muscles and ovaries of certain crab species may help in improving eyesight and reduce inflammation. The presence of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in crab meat may help with inflammation and improve eyesight. It may also help prevent arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. Studies also suggest that a diet that is low in long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids may lead to neurological issues (5).

  • May Help In Weight Management

Crab meat also contains omega-3 fatty acids. Studies suggest that eating food rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help in curbing appetite (6). Crab meat contains zero carbs, you can add it to your low-carb diet to help weight loss (1).

Crab meat as a delicacy is extremely popular across the world. Its great taste and potential health benefits make it a great culinary delight.

While crab meat has certain potential health benefits, it also has a few downsides. In the next section, let us look at some of the possible risks associated with crab meat.

Potential Downsides Of Eating Crab Meat

There is limited research available with regards to the downsides of eating crab meat. However, here are some of them that are backed up by studies.

  • High In Sodium And Cholesterol

Crab meat is high in sodium and cholesterol. It has about 1070 mg of sodium and 53 mg of cholesterol per 100g, which is quite a lot. If you are hypertensive or a heart patient, it is advisable to avoid frequent consumption of crab meat and other food that is high in sodium. High sodium levels in your diet can raise your blood pressure levels that can become a factor for cardiovascular issues and stroke (1), (7).

  • Affordability

Crab meat is definitely not cheap! In the USA, 1lb of canned crab meat can range anywhere from $53 – $150. In comparison to chicken and other meats, the meat-to-price ratio of crab meat may seem to be expensive.

  • Difficult To Eat

For someone new to crab meat, eating an unshelled crab may seem like a challenge. You will require a cracker or splitter that will help crack the shell and the claws to eat the meat. You would also have to apply the correct amount of pressure on the right joints of the claw to extract the meat. It can be quite time-consuming to eat a crab. If you’ve starved yourself in anticipation of a nice crab claw dinner, you might just end up feeling a whole lot crabbier.

Having understood the potential benefits and side effects of eating crab meat, it’s time to whip some culinary delights.

Popular Recipes Using Crab

Is the thought of juicy and succulent crab meat stirring up your appetite? Well, you may just want to hold on to that a wee bit longer. Here is a simple recipe for delicious butter garlic crabs:

Butter Garlic Crabs

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients Required

  • 250g crab meat
  • 1 whole pod of garlic finely chopped
  • 2-3 green chilies chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • ½ cup of water

Preparation

  1. In a pan, heat olive oil and butter.
  2. Add the garlic and saute till it turns golden yellow.
  3. Add the green chilies and cook for 15-20 seconds.
  4. Add the crab meat and salt as per taste. Stir lightly.
  5. Add some water and cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  6. Serve hot and enjoy!

Here is another easy crab soup recipe that you can make.

Crab Soup

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients Required

  • 200g crab meat
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • salt & pepper for garnish
  • 100ml dry sherry

Preparation

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy bottom saucepan or stockpot.
  2. Add crab meat, heavy cream, and milk. Bring it to a boil on medium heat.
  3. Once boiled, simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the vessel from heat and add dry sherry and stir it in.
  5. Add salt and pepper as per taste and enjoy.

These recipes are sure to leave you smacking your lips and licking your fingers.

In conclusion, crab meat is one of the most succulent and healthy meats that you can try. It is loaded with vitamins, minerals and is free of carbs, which makes it a great addition to any low-carb diet. Its mineral and vitamin-rich nutritional profile comes with many potential health benefits. If you are a first-time crab meat-eater, you may find yourself struggling to navigate your way around it. With time, you can become an expert at eating crab meat.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Is crab healthier than shrimp?

It is a close call between crab and shrimp. Crab meat has fewer calories (97) than shrimp (106). Also, crab meat has 0 carbs per 100g whereas shrimp has 0.88g. Most of the other nutrients are relatively similar. Hence by a small margin crab is better than shrimp (1),(8).

Are crabs healthy for weight loss?

Yes, they are healthy for weight loss. Crab meat contains zero carbs that makes it an excellent addition to your low-carb diet for weight loss (1).

Is crab bad for cholesterol?

Yes, crab is bad for cholesterol as it contains 53 g of cholesterol per 100g, which is quite a high value (1).

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Crustaceans, Crab, Alaska King, Cooked, Moist Heat
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/174202/nutrients
  2. Nutrient and Energy Composition of Flesh, Limbs and Carapace of Callinectes Amnicola (Blue Crab) from Great Kwa River, South East Nigeria
    https://www.interesjournals.org/articles/nutrient-and-energy-composition-of-flesh-limbs-and-carapace-of-callinectes-amnicola-blue-crab-from-great-kwa-river-south.pdf
  3. Nutritional Properties of Crab (Potamon potamios Olivier, 1804) In The Lake of Eǧirdir (Turkey)
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/287707569_Nutritional_properties_of_crab_Potamon_potamios_Olivier_1804_in_the_Lake_of_Egirdir_Turkey
  4. Consumption of Fish and Alzheimer’s Disease
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257790946_Consumption_of_fish_and_Alzheimer\’s_Disease
  5. Chemical Composition, Nutritional Value, and Safety of Cooked Female Chaceon Maritae from Namibe (Angola)
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6678160/
  6. A Diet Rich in Long Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids Modulates Satiety in Overweight and Obese Volunteers During Weight Loss
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5249640_A_diet_rich_in_long_chain_omega-3_fatty_acids_modulates_satiety_in_overweight_and_obese_volunteers_during_weight_loss
  7. Sodium
    https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/sodium.htm
  8. Shrimp
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/452111/nutrients
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