Among the various seafood options, sea scallops are a healthy choice. These mollusks are larger than other scallop varieties and have a slightly sweet flavor when cooked. They provide protein, along with vitamins, minerals and essential omega-3 fats.
Each 3-ounce serving of sea scallops contains 80 calories, 14 grams of protein and 2 grams of carbohydrates, as well as 310 milligrams of omega-3 fats, which is 62 percent of the recommended intake of 500 milligrams per day. Omega-3 fats help keep your heart healthy and are important for brain development in infants.
Sea scallops are also a good source of vitamins, with each 3-ounce serving providing 20 percent of the daily value for vitamin B-12, 6 percent of the DV for niacin and vitamin B-6 and 4 percent of the DV for folate, riboflavin and vitamin C. Niacin, folate, riboflavin and vitamins B-6 and B-12 help you turn the foods you eat into energy, as well as keeping your liver, eyes, skin and hair healthy. Vitamin C is an antioxidant essential for making collagen and healing wounds.
Eating a 3-ounce serving of sea scallops will also help you meet your recommended intake for minerals, providing 20 percent of the DV for phosphorus, 10 percent of the DV for magnesium, 6 percent of the DV for zinc and 2 percent of the DV for calcium. Phosphorus is important for reducing muscle pain after a workout, storing energy and repairing cells. Your body uses magnesium for regulating your blood sugar and blood pressure levels, immune function and keeping your heartbeat steady. Zinc is essential for tasting and smelling, as well as for immune function, and calcium helps keep your bones strong and your muscles and nerves functioning properly.
Scallops are one of the types of seafood with the lowest levels of mercury contamination, according to the American Pregnancy Association. You can safely enjoy up to 12 ounces of sea scallops or other low-mercury seafood, including shrimp, tilapia, catfish or haddock, per week.
While sea scallops are generally healthy, the way you cook them could make them less healthy. Breading them and frying them or wrapping them in bacon may be delicious ways to prepare sea scallops, but these methods add unhealthy fat and minimize the overall nutritional value of the scallops. Poach them, grill them or saute them in a small amount of olive oil and use them to top a salad to get the most nutritional value from your meal.
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.