Two hundred million years is an extraordinarily long time and that’s right around how long crab has been around.
Upright ancestors of humans evolved from monkeys just 4-6 million years ago. And we weren’t REALLY human until about 130,000 years ago (at least by some metrics like brain size). But however long it’s been, it’s nowhere close to 200 million years.
Crabs, though, have been the exact same for about that long. They were around with dinosaurs, for crying out loud.
I’m a geek for facts like this, but the one that might blow you away is that the largest can measure 12 feet across (from claw to claw). That’s not a crab that would fit in any pot that I have at home.
Why Crabs Are Super Healthy
Yes, they are a little bit expensive in the United States (and in most parts of the world). So when we think of crab, we usually think of a delicacy rather than a health food.
And to be sure, this seafood is delicious, especially if they’re very fresh.
But they’re also incredibly nutrient-dense, like most other shellfish.
Crabs are very high in zinc, copper, selenium, and B12, all critical minerals and vitamins that we don’t get a whole lot of from other foods. In addition, this small creature has very respectable levels of most other vitamins and minerals, making it nutritious across the board.
I don’t list any numbers here because it varies a little depending on the type like (King Crab, Dungeness Crab, etc.), but pretty much every crab is excellent.
And if you’re worried about mercury (which you generally shouldn’t be, unless you’re eating shark or whale), then rest assured that crab is near the bottom of the food chain, feeding mostly on algae, which means that it’s generally very low in mercury.
What You Need to Watch Out For
Crabs are shellfish, which means that they’re pretty allergenic, and a lot of people have sensitivities to shellfish.
So you need to pay attention to how you feel when you eat crab. If it’s not so great, then that’s probably a pretty good sign that you have a sensitivity and should steer clear.
Also, if you’re going to buy and eat, make sure it’s as fresh as possible, preferably alive and just caught from the sea. This doesn’t mean you can never eat frozen crab, but not only will the taste not be nearly as good, but also – like all seafood – as soon as it dies, histamines are released into the meat, making it more likely you’ll have an allergic response to the crab.
If you’re not familiar with preparing and cooking live crabs, here’s an excellent tutorial. It focuses on Dungeness crabs, but could apply to any hard-shell crab.
And when it comes to buying live crab from the store, definitely visit a store that goes through a lot of crab on a daily basis. If the crabs have been there more than a day or so, then they’re probably not fed well and are starting to get malnourished.