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Blue Mussels

Updated on December 16, 2010

Blue Mussel Information

The blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) is a popular type of shellfish which is eaten around the world. Depending on the region, wild caught or farm raised blue mussels may be available.

Mussels are prepared by steaming, boiling, roasting or as an ingredient in traditional recipes such as mussels and pasta, ciopinno, and other dishes.

Blue mussels are abundant on both sides of the North Atlantic and in parts of the southern hemisphere. The species is found from the seashore down to depths of a few meters. Blue mussels grow in colonies, attaching to the bottom with filaments called byssus threads.

Blue mussels are filter feeders, consuming microscopic phytoplankton from the water. In favorable conditions, blue mussels can grow rapidly, reaching sexual maturity at around one year old.

In the North Atlantic, blue mussels are commonly grown in aquaculture systems, sometimes referred to as "shellfish farms". Typically, mussel farms employ structures such as ropes or lines that allow mussel larvae or spat to attach themselves and grow. Blue mussels reach market sizes in 1-2 years. Farm raised mussels feed by filtering 10-15 gallons of water each day.

Blue Mussels and Health

According to numerous health experts, blue mussels are considered to be a nutritious food. They are rich in protein and minerals yet low in fat, sodium and cholesterol. Blue mussels are also thought to be sources of vitamin C, iron and zinc. Blue mussels also contain omega-3 fatty acids, compounds that are known to believed to protect against heart disease and a provide other health benefits.

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