Most have us have eaten clams in more than one way — raw on the half-shell, clams casino, clam chowder, fried clams and baked stuffed clams, just to name a few. But have you ever researched these invertebrates that are found buried beneath the sand and mud in both fresh and salt water? These nutrient dense animals provide significant amounts of lean protein, vitamin B-12, vitamin C, iron and a host of other minerals. Clams contain about 241 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per 3 ounces. Health organizations suggest 250 to 500 milligrams per day for optimal heart health. Clams are low in total fat and low in saturated fat. Eating a low saturated-fat diet is much more important in maintaining healthy blood cholesterol than eating a low-cholesterol diet.
Consider adding clams to your diet a few times a month!
- Calories: 126
- Protein: 22 g
- Fat: 1.66 g
- Saturated: 0 g
- Monounsaturated: 0 g
- Polyunsaturated: 1 g
- Cholesterol: 57 mg
- Carbohydrate: 0 g
- Sugar: 0 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Amount: 485 IU
- Daily Value: 10%
- Amount: 18.8 mg
- Daily Value: 31%
- Amount: .4 mg
- Daily Value: 21%
- Amount: 2.9 mg
- Daily Value: 14%
- Amount: 84.1 mcg
- Daily Value: 1,401%
- Amount: 23.8 mg
- Daily Value: 132%
- Amount: 287 mg
- Daily Value: 29%
- Amount: 534 mg
- Daily Value: 15%
- Amount: 2.3 mg
- Daily Value: 15%
- Amount: .6 mg
- Daily Value: 29%
- Amount: .9 mg
- Daily Value: 43%
- Amount: 54.5 mcg
- Daily Value: 78%
- Clams are bivalve mollusks – meaning they have two shells.
- Clams are filter feeders — filtering tiny organisms or fine particles of organic material from currents of water that pass through their systems.
- Clams lack heads, but most react to changes in light.
- Clams have kidneys, a heart, a mouth, a stomach, a nervous system and an anus. Many have siphons for feeding and respiration.
- Shellfish is a term that includes mollusks — snails, oysters, mussels, cockles, scallops, clams — and crustaceans — lobster, shrimp and crabs.
- Clams are harvested year-round on the East Coast and the Pacific Northwest and from November to April in California.
- When purchasing live hard-shell clams, the shells should be closed tightly. If a hard shell clam is slightly open, tap it lightly and make sure it snaps shut, otherwise discard. Live soft-shell clams will have the neck sticking out of the shell, which should move when touched. Live clams may be stored for up to two days in a 40 degree F refrigerator.
- According to the Environmental Defense Fund’s Seafood Selector, most clams have low levels of the contaminants found in some other fish and seafood species. Contaminants in seafood are closely linked to specific pollution and industrial activity near water where clams are harvested. To be sure of the safety of local clams, check with local authorities.
- Clams may have about the same amount of protein and fat as chicken, however clams contain more vitamins and minerals.
- Clams are part of a healthy Mediterranean diet.
The giant clam can live for over 100 years and is the largest immobile mollusk in the world, reaching up to 6 feet in length. Giant clams are listed as an Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
This is a traditional Italian dish – in the healthy Mediterranean diet as discussed in my book: Beyond The Mediterranean Diet: European Secrets Of The Super-Healthy.
Clams (Vongole In Italian) In Red Sauce
Ingredients (choose organic when available):
- 4 pounds littleneck clams
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 4 garlic cloves, whole
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 28 ounces diced tomatoes
- Pinch sugar (optional)
- 4 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (optional)
Scrub the clams with a brush and rinse several times under cold water. Bring wine and garlic to a simmer in a large saucepan with lid, and allow to reduce by half. Add clams, cover and cook for 5 minutes or until clams open. Remove from heat and discard unopened clams.
In an oversized saucepan (or stockpot) with a lid, heat olive oil over medium heat and cook onion for about 3 minutes. Add red chili flakes, diced tomatoes, pinch of sugar, parsley and liquid from the clams. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring often. Squeeze in juice from 1/2 lemon. Taste, add optional salt and/or pepper and adjust seasonings.
Add clams just to heat them through. Serve and enjoy! Serves 4.
Nutrition facts without added sugar or salt (724 grams) per serving: 333 calories, 4.9 grams fat, 61.5 grams carbohydrates, 4.8 grams fiber, 5 grams protein, 10 percent daily value for iron, excellent source of vitamins A and C. (Sodium is not reported because it varies depending on brand of packaged tomatoes.)
The region of Puglia, located in southern Italy, is my favorite place in the world to eat authentic and healthy Italian food, including vongole! Locally grown fruits, vegetables and legumes, seafood, grains, fresh dairy, olive oil and wine make this coastal region the ideal place to experience the Mediterranean Diet. That’s why I chose this location to co-lead a cultural and culinary tour for nutrition and health professionals, foodies and friends who want to have a hands-on Italian Mediterranean experience like none other in the world! If you like to travel and want to learn about pasta-making, bread-making, cheese-making, olive-oil harvesting and more from renowned cooks and experts of the region, join Southern Visions Travel and me in Puglia, Italy this fall 2017. This trip offers 30 continuing education credits from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For further information and details visit: www.WorldRD.com/travel. This trip was sold out last year so book early for a $200 discount.