Octopus Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Grilled octopus
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Octopus is a type of shellfish that serves as an important source of protein for many coastal communities around the world. This fascinating sea creature is also considered a delicacy in many cultures.

High in protein and rich in many essential vitamins and minerals, more and more people are adding octopus to their menu. Here is a look at the nutrition, health benefits, and uses of octopus.

Octopus Nutrition Facts

This delicacy is high in protein, low in fat, and provides many essential vitamins and minerals you need for good health. This nutrition information comes from the USDA.

  • Calories: 163
  • Fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 711mg
  • Carbohydrates: 4g
  • Protein: 30g
  • Cholesterol: 95mg
  • Calcium: 106mg
  • Iron: 9.48mg
  • Zinc: 3.34mg
  • Selenium: 89mcg
  • Vitamin B12: 35.8mcg


Carbs

Though not a significant source of carbohydrates, a 100-gram serving of steamed octopus has 4 grams of carbs. However, the shellfish has no fiber or sugar. 

Fats

Octopus is very low in fat with only 2 grams of total fat per serving. This total fat is made up of 0.45 grams from saturated fat, 0.322 grams from monounsaturated fat, and 0.474 grams from polyunsaturated fat. 

Most of the fat in shellfish comes from unsaturated fats. The American Heart Association (AHA) says these types of fat may help lower cholesterol and improve health when part of a balanced eating plan.

A 100-gram serving of octopus has 95 milligrams of cholesterol. However, the dietary guidelines from the AHA no longer provide limits on the consumption of dietary cholesterol. It is not the cholesterol in food that increases blood cholesterol, but the saturated fat. 

Protein

With 30 grams of protein in a 100-gram serving, steamed octopus is an excellent source of this essential nutrient. 

Vitamins and Minerals

Octopus has many essential vitamins and minerals, providing more than 20% of the daily value for iron, zinc, selenium, and vitamin B12. It is also a source of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.

However, depending on the preparation methods, octopus may be high in sodium. According to the nutrition information from the USDA, a serving of steamed octopus has 711 milligrams of sodium. This sodium primarily comes from added salt. But other types of octopus without added salt can have as much as 482 milligrams of sodium per 100-gram serving.

Too much sodium in your diet increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. The dietary guidelines recommend limiting daily intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams a day. When having octopus, limit the amount of added salt to keep sodium intake low.

Calories

Octopus is a low-energy-dense food, with only 163 calories in a 100-gram serving. About 88% of the calories in the shellfish come from protein and the rest come from fat and carbs. 

Health Benefits

Octopus is a nutrient-dense food with a number of benefits when incorporated into a balanced eating plan. Here is an overview of the potential health benefits.

Promotes Heart Health

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats your body uses to make cell membranes and hormones that control blood clotting, blood pressure, and inflammation. Including fish and seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids into your eating plan may improve heart health and lower the risk of heart disease when part of a healthy balanced diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in certain plants as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). In fish, the omega-3s are in the form of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Your body only uses EPA and DHA to perform essential functions, including those that benefit heart health. 

ALA is converted to EPA and DHA in your liver, but the conversion is inefficient. ALA is the primary source of Omega-3 fatty acids in the American diet, so there is a need for EPA and DHA, which octopus provides. The recommended adequate intake for omega-3 fatty acids ranges from 1.1 to 1.6 grams per day.

A 100-gram serving of steamed octopus has 0.38 grams of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of EPA and DHA, providing more than 20% of the recommended amounts.

Supports Immune Function

Food alone may not be able to protect you from every germ but it can give your body a fighting chance. Your immune system relies on a number of essential nutrients to run efficiently, including protein, zinc, selenium, and vitamin B12.

Even though eating octopus may not protect you from all contagious diseases, it can provide your immune system with many of the nutrients it needs to help your fight, especially when combined with other nutrient-dense foods.

May Improve Male Fertility

Many couples struggle with infertility. In men, poor semen quality is a common cause of infertility. According to a July 2017 systematic review of observational studies published in Human Reproduction Update, diet may influence the health and quality of semen in men.

The researchers noted eating a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants like zinc and selenium from nutritious foods like fish and shellfish may improve semen quality and male fertility.  Because this was an observational study, it does not necessarily prove causation. Consequently, additional research is needed.

Assists With Satiety

Octopus is high in protein, low in fat, and rich in essential nutrients, making it a nutritious addition to any diet, especially for those who focus on eating a high-protein diet. Additionally, high-protein diets increase the production of appetite-reducing hormones, helping you feel full faster and stay satiated longer. This fact is important for people with certain medical conditions like diabetes or hypoglycemia that need to eat adequate amounts of protein in order to balance their blood sugar.

Improves Metabolism

Protein is considered “metabolically expensive,” according to a 2017 position statement on diets and body composition from the International Society of Sports Nutrition. What does this mean? Your body burns more calories when digesting and metabolizing protein than it does for carbohydrates and fat.

Additionally, ensuring you get an adequate amount of protein, especially when focusing on health and weight management, may help prevent loss of muscle mass. Muscle mass uses more calories than fat and helps provide your body with a stable foundation.

Allergies

Octopus is a type of shellfish. If you have an allergy to shellfish, you need to avoid eating octopus. Shellfish allergies are one of the most common food allergies.

Though most often diagnosed in adults, shellfish allergies also occur in children. Treatment for this type of allergy is avoiding all shellfish, including meals or dishes containing octopus. 

Adverse Effects

Octopus is a source of mercury, but it is relatively low. Mercury is a toxic metal that causes brain damage and learning disabilities when consumed in excessive amounts. Pregnant women and young children need to limit their intake of foods high in mercury.

Though a source of mercury, octopus often has low levels of heavy metal and is safe to eat during pregnancy. However, never eat raw fish or shellfish, including raw octopus, during pregnancy.

Storage and Food Safety

When buying fresh octopus, only buy if refrigerated or kept on a bed of ice making sure it has no fishy smell. Keep your octopus in the refrigerator and cook it within 2 days. 

You can store frozen octopus for up to 3 months in the freezer. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.

How to Prepare

When not properly prepped, an octopus may be too tough to eat. If you can, buy octopus that’s pre-cleaned so you don’t have to remove the guts, eyes, or beak. 

Simmering octopus in a pot of water tenderizes the shellfish. Add octopus, salt, pepper, and one fresh lemon cut in half in a pot and fill with water. Cook covered over medium heat until it comes to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 to 90 minutes. 

Once tenderized, quickly grill or broil your octopus to get a nice brown sear. Brush with olive oil and serve with wedges of lemon. Or, use your octopus to make a comforting seafood stew. Marinating your octopus after boiling may add more flavor to your dish. 

Recipes

Healthy Octopus Recipes to Try



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16 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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