Can you eat the body of a king crab?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat the body of a king crab?” and discuss what part of red king crab can be eaten.

Can you eat the body of a king crab?

Yes, you can eat the body of a king crab. 

Because king crabs have long legs and large muscles that govern where the crab wants to position its legs, the flesh from their bodies is equally tasty as the meat (muscles) in their legs.

What are the nutrients of the body of a king crab? 

The nutrients found in the body of a king crab are the following, in 100 g (6):

  • 1.54 g Lipids
  • 19.4 g Proteins
  • 0 g Carbohydrates
  • Minerals: Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Selenium 
  • Vitamins: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6 and B12 and Folate

What is the composition of the body of a king crab?

Studies showed that the composition of these parts of the crab meat varies. Protein content was highest in body meat and lowest in claw meat for all different species of crabs analyzed (4).

Typically, the edible part of red crab mainly consists of the meat found in the appendages (i.e., the muscle of the chelipeds and walking legs), but in some Asian countries, the hepatopancreas and reproductive organs located in the carapace are consumed as a special delicacy (2).

In a study, the fatty acid profile of the hepatopancreas of wild red crabs was characterized by a proportion of SFAs similar to that found in the leg meat but with higher MUFA and lower PUFA levels. 

With respect to the most abundant fatty acids, in wild red crabs, the leg meat and hepatopancreas differed mainly in the relative proportions of EPA and PUFAs, which resulted higher in the leg meat, and that of 16:1n. 

The energy value of cooked red king crab meat is 96 kcal per 100 g (1). Among the fatty acids assayed in the leg meat of wild red crabs, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) were present in the highest proportion (> 50 %), followed by monounsaturated (MUFAs) and saturated fatty acids (SFAs) (2).

What are the benefits of eating the body of a king crab?

The benefits of eating the body of king crab are related to its composition, which contains important amino acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The meat from red king crabs obtains high prices on the market due to its attractive properties. 

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and especially omega-3 fatty acids are recommended as part of a healthy diet as they carry health-promoting and  disease-preventative properties, such as the prevention of arteriosclerotic and thrombotic disease (7).

The meat of King crab is of high quality due to a low proportion of cholesterol. In addition, the muscle protein of red king crabs contains higher proportions of tyrosine, histidine, arginine, tryptophan and cysteine in comparison to fish species. 

According to animal and in vitro studies, marine food provides amino acids which are considered bioactive peptides and exhibit advantageous effects, including modulation of the immune system, reduction of cholesterol levels, and antimicrobial activity (7).

What are the risks of eating King Crab?

The risks of consuming king crab are especially associated with food contamination. Seafood is highly susceptible to being contaminated by bacteria, viruses and protozoa.

The consumption of uncooked and undercooked seafood may lead to foodborne illnesses and symptoms, such as diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting and fever (8). 

There have been several reports on the health risks associated with the consumption of processed seafood, ranging from allergic reactions, stomach and intestinal cancers and outbreaks related to the contamination of Vibrio species. 

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is often isolated from seawater, sediment and a variety of seafood including shrimp, crab and oyster. It is a bacterium adapted to high-salt environments that is commonly found in saltwater food.

How to safely consume crab meat?

To safely consume crab meat or other seafood, follow the safety instructions provided by the Food and Drug Administration:

  • To buy seafood, be aware of signs of spoilage. It should smell fresh and mild, not fishy, sour, or ammonia-like and the flesh has no discoloration, darkening, or drying around the edges. 
  • Store frozen or refrigerated and avoid keeping at room temperature.
  • wash hands and utensils thoroughly and do not use the same utensils for cooked and uncooked food to avoid cross-contaminations 
  • Most seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F. 
  • In the case of crab meat, it is cooked and safe to eat when the flesh becomes firm and clear.

Other FAQs about Crab that you may be interested in.

Can you eat imitation crab meat while pregnant?

Can you eat the body of a king crab?

Can you eat the body of a crab?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat the body of a king crab?” and we discussed what part of red king crab can be eaten and the health benefits related to the consumption of this seafood.


  1. Dvoretsky, Alexander G., et al. Fatty acid composition of the Barents Sea red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) leg meat. J Food Comp Anal, 2021, 98, 103826.
  2. Lian, Federico, et al. Fatty acid profile of cooked leg meat and raw hepatopancreas of red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) during three-month live holding without feeding at 5 and 10° C. J Food Comp Anal, 2022, 105, 104206. 
  3. Wiloso, Edi Iswanto, et al. Life cycle assessment of Indonesian canned crab (Portunus pelagicus). J Ind Ecol, 2022, 26, 1947-1960.
  4. Sreelakshmi, K. R., et al. Variation in proximate composition and fatty acid profiles of mud crab meat with regard to sex and body parts. Indian J. Fish, 2016, 63, 147-150.
  5. Otto, Robert S., and Glen S. Jamieson. Commercially important crabs, shrimps and lobsters of the North Pacific Ocean. 2001. North Pacific Marine Science Organization.
  6. Boiled Alaska crab. Food Data Base. United States Department of Agriculture. 
  7. Hosomi, Ryota, Munehiro Yoshida, and Kenji Fukunaga. Seafood consumption and components for health. Glob j health sci, 2012, 4, 72.
  8. Adebayo-Tayo, B. C., et al. Occurrence of potentially pathogenic Vibrio species in Sea foods obtained from Oron Creek. Adv Biol Res, 2011, 5, 356-365.

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