Crabs belong to a broad spectrum of crustaceans (animals with a shell). Although crabs have historically been associated with cranky dispositions, perhaps because they fearlessly brandish their pincers at humans and are all too happy to take a nip out of an innocent swimmer’s toe, they are a much-prized seafood. There are freshwater crabs and saltwater crabs, the latter being the more plentiful and commercially available.
Types of Crab
Discover the differences in the types of crab most commonly sold: Blue crab, Alaskan king crab, Dungeness crab, and Stone crab.
Crabmeat is a good source of low-fat protein, niacin, and zinc, and it also supplies folate, iron, and a large amount of the antioxidant mineral selenium. But its biggest claim to nutrient fame is its vitamin B12 content, with 3 ounces of cooked crabmeat providing over 250 percent of the required amount.
In addition, crabmeat provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They may also make the heart less susceptible to dangerous, sometimes fatal, rhythm abnormalities. Moreover, although crabmeat is high in dietary cholesterol, it is low in saturated fat, which is more of a risk factor for heart disease than dietary cholesterol.
A note on crab butter: Open up a crab and you will find the so-called mustard, or crab butter (hepatopancreas), which some consider a delicacy. This organ in the crab performs the usual functions of the liver in any animal—filtering toxins from the system—and may contain high concentrations of PCBs and other contaminants if the crab was harvested from contaminated waters. Therefore, it’s safest to discard it.
For a full listing of nutrients, check the National Nutrient Database:
A word about “imitation crab”
The imitation crabmeat used in seafood salads and sushi rolls is rich in high-quality protein but has virtually no heart-healthy omega-3 fats. And it is typically high in sodium. Imitation crab is usually made from Alaskan Pollock, which is ground up, washed and strained. Salt, sugar and other flavors, as well as binders like egg white and starch, are added.
How to Choose and Cook with Crab
Crabs are a nutritious shellfish delight, and can be prepared in many ways. Here are tips on choosing the best crab, and recipe ideas for preparing this popular crustacean.When sold live, fresh crabs should smell briny-fresh, and look bright and clean. Aside from soft-shell crabs, shells of crabs should be hard
Published February 18, 2016