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Biological Chemistry

Healthy Diets Now Include Lobster

Overcoming lobster's reputation as being high in fat and cholesterol, new research indicates that the crustacean can be part of a balanced diet

by Bethany Halford
April 20, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 16

Credit: Shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

Despite lobster's reputation as a delicacy high in fat and cholesterol, new research indicates that the crustacean is, in fact, perfectly compatible with a nutritious and healthy diet—provided you steer clear of dipping it in butter. In an effort to create a complete nutritional profile of the clawed critters, researchers in Portugal analyzed the edible tissues of the European lobster Homarus gammarus and the American lobster Homarus americanus for their cholesterol content, energy, and fatty acid and amino acid composition (J. Agric. Food Chem., DOI: 10.1021/jf900237g). The team, led by António Marques of Portugal's National Institute of Biological Resources, found that all of the crustacean's edible tissues were packed with essential amino acids. The muscle tissue that makes up lobster claws and tails proved to be high in protein and low in fat. The greenish-yellow hepatopancreas, which lobsters use to store lipids and some lobster lovers refer to as "mustard" or "tomalley," had relatively high fat and cholesterol levels, but the Portuguese team still assessed those levels as moderate enough for eating without too much guilt. In earlier work, however, they suggest high cadmium levels make the hepatopancreas a less appealing treat.


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