Lobster is a type of shellfish typically boiled or steamed for consumption. Lobster can be eaten as a main course, on a roll or added to rich dishes like pasta, mashed potatoes and eggs Benedict, adding an element of decadence.
Despite its desirable reputation today, lobster was not always known as a pricey indulgence. In the 17th century, colonists in Massachusetts considered lobster shells in a home to be a sign of poverty and only fed lobster to their servants.
In the 1940s, you could buy a can of baked beans for 53 cents per pound and canned lobster for 11 cents per pound.
Lobster is now seen as a delicacy, in part because of the discovery that cooking the lobster live made it more appetizing, as opposed to killing it first and cooking it later.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional breakdown of lobster and an in-depth look at its possible health benefits, how to incorporate more lobster into your diet and any potential health risks of consuming lobster.
Lobster is a rich source of copper and selenium and also contains zinc, phosphorus, vitamin B12, magnesium, vitamin E and a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
Lobster does contain cholesterol. However, recent studies have suggested that the cholesterol content in foods does not necessarily increase harmful cholesterol in the body and that saturated fat intake is more directly related to an increase in harmful cholesterol levels. Lobster is not a significant source of saturated fat.
Possible benefits of consuming lobster
Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of fish and shellfish like lobster decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease while promoting healthy cholesterol levels.
Fish and shellfish are especially important for providing omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in very few foods. A three-ounce portion of wild spiny lobster is estimated to provide 200-500 milligrams of omega-3s while the more common northern lobster provides 200 milligrams or less for the same portion. To compare, three ounces of wild salmon provide over 1500 mg of omega-3s.
Although the fatty acid content in lobster is not the highest among fish and shellfish, it should still be a source to consider based on the fact that most people are not getting enough omega-3s from food.
Lobster is a good source of selenium, a nutrient that is crucial to proper thyroid functioning.
Selenium has been shown to be a necessary component for proper in thyroid function. A meta-analysis has shown that those with thyroid disease who are selenium deficient experience pronounced benefits when increasing their selenium intake, including weight loss and reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.1 Lobster is a good source of selenium, along with Brazil nuts and yellowfin tuna.
Mental health benefits
According to the National Institute on Alcohol and Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to decrease aggression, impulsivity and depression in adults. This association is even stronger for kids with mood disorders and disorderly conduct issues, like some types of ADHD.2
Copper works together with iron to form red blood cells. Anemia occurs when you do not have enough red blood cells or your red blood cells do not function properly. Consuming adequate copper will benefit people with all forms of anemia.3,4 Many people do not get enough copper in their diet. Lobster has one of the highest levels of copper of any food.
How to incorporate more lobster into your diet
Lobster can easily be added to pasta dishes as a source of protein.
Use lobster as your main protein source
Add lobster to pasta or rice dishes
Mince lobster to top salads
Make lobster patties or burgers.
Avoid drenching your lobster in cheap butter, which is what they serve at many seafood restaurants. Instead, choose a high quality, grass-fed butter and use sparingly. Squeeze a lemon wedge over your lobster for a burst of flavor.
Or, try these healthy and delicious recipes developed by registered dietitians: