Seafood is good for you, right? It’s become pretty common knowledge that various types of seafood are good inclusions in a healthy diet. But when you’re minding your cholesterol levels, you can never be too cautious. As you’ll see in the case of scallops, the devil is in the preparation details.
Scallops have a mild flavor and you’ll often find them on a plate swimming in a sea of butter. In this case, scallops would not be a wise menu choice if you’re watching your cholesterol, but it’s not due to the scallops themselves.
Nutritional Qualities of Scallops
Like most seafood, scallops are relatively low in calories, fat, and cholesterol. According to the USDA, one 3-ounce serving of plain, steamed scallops contains just 94 calories. It contains 35 milligrams of cholesterol, and 0.19 grams of both saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. In addition, it contains just 0.07 grams of monounsaturated fat, and an insignificant 0.008 grams of trans fats.
So, what does all of this mean? Scallops are a low-calorie and low-cholesterol food. They are also low in fats — all types of fats.
Saturated fats can raise your cholesterol. Keeping an eye on the saturated fat content of your daily food intake is important when you’re working to lower or control your cholesterol.
The USDA recommends getting less than 7 percent of your daily calories from saturated fats. For someone who eats 2,000 calories each day, this is less than 16 grams of saturated fats. Considering that scallops have far less than a single gram of saturated fat, they are a wise choice.
But those are plain scallops. If you go to a restaurant and order your scallops prepared with butter, you’re looking at an entirely different nutritional profile. Just one tablespoon of butter contains more than 7 grams of saturated fats.
If you’re looking to indulge in scallops, but you’re also managing your cholesterol, you’ll need to be aware of what’s added to the scallops during the cooking process. The recipes we’ve found are pretty typical scallop recipes, meaning some are better for you than others. We’ll help you put a healthier spin on them along the way.
1. Lemon Butter Scallops
Yep, butter. But this recipe manages to make one tablespoon of the decadent stuff last for four servings. So, you get just 1/4 tablespoon, or under 2 grams of saturated fat per serving. This is your typical simple, stovetop scallop dish. And it looks divine.
2. Orzo Salad with Scallops
Orzo is a small pasta, and it’s great for salads. This recipe calls for quite a bit of olive oil — 1/4 cup plus another tablespoon. You can easily cut that by at least half to slash the saturated fat. Olive oil is a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, though, so keeping some of the oil in is quite all right.
3. Paleo Seared Scallops with Mango-Pineapple Salsa
This fresh-looking recipe uses ghee instead of regular butter. Ghee is clarified butter, but it too contains saturated fats, and when consumed in large amounts, it can increase your risk of heart disease. Our recommendation for this recipe: Cut the amount of ghee in half. You’re left with about 3/4 tablespoon of ghee, split between 2 to 3 servings, a reasonable and moderate amount.
4. Red Pepper Scallops
This recipe only has five ingredients, and despite coming from the queen of butter herself, Paula Deen, it has none to speak of! The fat in here is olive oil, and with just 2 tablespoons spread across 6 servings, this recipe really doesn’t need any adjustments to be heart-healthy!
5. Seared Jumbo Scallops with Cauliflower Puree and Grilled Asparagus
Using cauliflower instead of rice or potatoes for the base will make this scallops recipe paleo-friendly, as well as more heart-friendly. It does call for a bit of butter, but not much, with just 1/4 tablespoon per serving. You can eliminate this entirely, or keep it in since its effects will be nominal.
Watching your cholesterol doesn’t have to be difficult. By including healthy food items like scallops, and adjusting recipes to fit your dietary needs, you can indulge in gourmet dishes that are both good for you and delicious.