Can you eat closed mussels?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question, “Can you eat closed mussels?” with an in-depth analysis of mussels, the nutritional composition of mussels, how to buy mussels, along with the health benefits and risks associated with eating mussels. 

Can you eat closed mussels?

Yes, you can eat closed mussels. Mussels reside in saltwater and freshwater habitats and are similar to clams and oysters. Their shell is divided into two halves. These two halves have an innate ability to be open, using some elastic ligaments.

To keep them shut, it uses its particular adductor muscles. While cooking, the heat can have some effects on the adductor muscles that keep the two halves of the shell adhered together.

Sometimes, the heat can denature the proteins in the adductor muscles so that they simply separate, or sometimes, it can make one or both ends of the adductor muscles come unstuck from the shell.

It has been found that 1.9% of mussels opened early even before they had been cooked for an adequate period to kill any potential pathogens present in them.

If you removed them from the oven after they opened and ate these mussels, you would be at risk of foodborne illness.

But you would get a strong indication from the texture of the meat, it would be unappetizing, jelly-like, un-coagulated, and adhered to the shell.

On the other hand, it has been found that some 11.5% of mussels remained shut after the standard cooking time.

When they were forced open with a knife, every single one was both sufficiently cooked and safe to consume.

So, even if the adductor muscles do not open even after cooking, the mussels are still safe to eat.

The best method to verify the safety of mussels is to examine them before cooking.

Mussels have such a small mass that if they are attacked by a pathogen, they will be destroyed almost immediately, and will give a bad smell.

How to buy mussels?

Mussels must be alive to assure that they are fresh. Their shells should be closed to be certain they are alive. If any shell is open, it should close when patted or pressed. When looking at a big bunch in the fish market, avoid buying them if many are open.

Other signs of freshness: 

  • They should have a pleasant smell of the sea, do not buy any that has a fishy smell.
  • Always prefer smaller mussels over larger ones, as smaller mussels are sweeter and more delicious.
  • If you want to add mussels to a dish with other seafood or with pasta, then a large handful or 2 per person will be sufficient. If mussels are the main ingredient of the recipe as in a bowl of steamed mussels then you will require roughly 500 g per person. 

The nutritional composition of mussels 

Mussels are rich in nutrition. A three-ounce serving of steamed blue mussels provides:

  • Calories: 146
  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 6 grams
  • Fibre: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams

It also contains many vitamins and minerals, such as:

  • Iron
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Calcium

The health benefits of mussels

Following are the health benefits of eating mussels: 

High-Quality Protein

Mussels are rich in protein, comprising all the essential amino acids. The protein in mussels is easily digested, allowing the body to get the full benefit. 

Protein plays an important role in overall body health, building muscles, boosting the immune system, strengthening the bones, and healing wounds. 

Anemia Prevention

Mussels are rich in iron. Iron is necessary to prevent anaemia, which can result in fatigue and weakness. Mussels also have a good amount of vitamin B12, which is required for the production of erythrocytes. 

Heart Health

Mussels are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA that are necessary for heart health. They help to maintain the heartbeat, lower blood pressure and maintain blood vessels. 

Weight Loss

Mussels provide a lot of nutrition without a lot of calories thus, helping to lose weight. 

The risks of eating mussels

Mussels are important for the ecosystem as they remove many contaminants from water. They can even clean E. coli from water and still be safe to consume. 

Some people avoid eating mussels due to their high mercury content. 

It has been found out that eating up to 12 ounces of mussels per week is not dangerous to health.


In this short article, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat closed mussels?” with an in-depth analysis of mussels, the nutritional composition of mussels, how to buy mussels, along with the health benefits and risks associated with eating mussels. 


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