Cuttlefish are nutritious mollusks that can improve your health by providing considerable amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Similar to its other relatives like squid and octopus, cuttlefish is also a main ingredient in many of the Asian and Mediterranean dishes such as stir-fries and stews, soups and curries. Just like other types of mollusks, cuttlefish may also have high amounts of contaminants in their body and so it is important to consume them in moderate amounts. Cuttlefish have a remarkable ability to change their skin color according to their surroundings and hence are sometimes referred to as the chameleon of the sea. The pattern on their skin keeps changing in order to camouflage themselves from predators and also as a means of communicating with other cuttlefish.
Nutritional value of cuttlefish
Cuttlefish is a good source of nutrition when eaten in moderation. A 3-ounce serving of this mollusk provides you with 134 calories, 1 gram of carbohydrate, 28 grams of protein, and 1 gram of fat. They contain unsaturated fats, especially omega – fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which play a major role in reducing the risks of heart problems by lowering blood pressure, lowering triglyceride levels, preventing blood clots and blockage of arteries. Cuttlefish is a great source of many vitamins. It consists of many of the health benefitting vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate and vitamin B12. It also provides you with significant amounts of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. As mentioned earlier, cuttlefish is likely to have contaminant such as mercury and cadmium and hence it is recommended to limit their consumption to twice a week (5 ounce servings).
Cuttlefish ink and its health benefits
Just like squids and octopuses, cuttlefish also squirts out ink to escape from predators. This ink has been used in homeopathic medicine for centuries to treat conditions like menstrual problems, skin problems and depression. Cuttlefish ink or sepia as it is called is available in the pill or tablet form. In the laboratories, the cuttlefish ink is removed from the internal gland and a tincture is prepared by diluting the ink with sugar water. This tincture is used to make a homeopathic remedy by combining it with other plant ingredients. The extra ingredients that are added and the degree of dilution of the ink normally depends on the type of medical condition requiring treatment. Some people believe that the ink helps in eliminating irritability and in improving overall mood of a person. Some doctors prescribe the tincture for reproductive problems such as loss of libido, tiredness, and other emotional problems.
Cuttlefish ink is used as a remedy to treat digestive disorders such as indigestion and constipation. This ink has been found to reduce abdominal pain, headaches, backaches and other symptoms that usually come with menstruation. It is also found to be helpful in regulating menstrual flow and in alleviating problems like hot flashes that are normally associated with menopause. Medications containing cuttlefish ink has been found to be effective in treating skin problems like eczema, itching, redness, hives, yeast infections and fungal infections.
Studies also reveal that cuttlefish ink can protect the healthy cells of people undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment. One of the serious negative effects of this kind of treatment is that the red blood cells and white blood cells get destroyed, leading to drop in hemoglobin levels and anemia. According to studies, cuttlefish ink may be able to reduce the damage caused to bone marrow and spleen due to therapy and hence maintain the normal levels of blood cells and hemoglobin levels.
Cuttlebone and its uses
Cuttlebone is the hard and porous internal structure found in the cuttlefish, which is made of aragonite. It helps in controlling the buoyancy of cuttlefish in water. This structure is unique to cuttlefish, and is one of the features that differentiate them from other mollusks such as squid and octopus. The cuttlebone of each species of cuttlefish varies in size, shape, texture and pattern of ridges. It finds use in jewellery making as they can be used as casting moulds. The cuttlebone is also give to parakeets and other such birds as a dietary source of calcium. Since it has a grainy texture similar to pumice, it helps in wearing down the overgrown beaks of these birds.
Cuttlebone is considered to possess many medicinal properties and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for treating many health problems including asthma, bleeding and perforation caused by ulcer and gastric and duodenal ulcer. Dentists use it to put an end to bleeding after a tooth is pulled out. Cuttlebone contains Calcium carbonate that can help in neutralizing stomach acid, reducing pepsin activity, changing the pH of the contents of your intestine and in promoting the healing of ulcers. Studies conducted on animals reveal that cuttlebone may help in repairing bone defects.
Health benefits of cuttlefish
Cuttlefish is rich in nutrients that contribute to several health benefits. Some of the benefits are mentioned below:
Cuttlefish is heart healthy
Cuttlefish is low in fat content and whatever amount of fat they contain is mainly composed of unsaturated fatty acids like DHA and EPA. Studies reveal that a diet rich in these omega-3 fats can protect your heart from heart attacks and heart diseases by lowering the levels of triglycerides, lowering high blood pressure, and preventing the formation of blood clots, thereby preventing the clogging of the arteries.
Cuttlefish is an excellent source of vitamins
Cuttlefish can provide you with an array of vitamins essential for maintaining good health. It contains riboflavin (vitamin B2) that plays a vital role in metabolism. This vitamin helps in converting carbohydrates to sugar and also in the processing of fats and amino acids. It is needed for the production of red blood cells, which increases the circulation of blood, thereby increasing oxygenation to different organ systems of the body. The other functions of riboflavin include regulation of growth and reproduction, regulation of thyroid activity, prevention of diseases, tissue repair and many more.
Vitamin B 12 is another important nutrient found in cuttlefish. Some of the health benefits of this vitamin include improvement of mental clarity, alleviation of depression, production of melatonin (sleep hormone), improvement of asthma symptoms in children, and increase in sperm count.
Cuttlefish is a good source of vitamin C, which besides being a powerful antioxidant helps in improving your immune system and in preventing common colds and flu. It plays an important role in the formation of collagen and aids in the fast recovery of wounds and injuries. As an antioxidant, vitamin C is beneficial in preventing premature aging and in reducing your risk of all types of cancer by fighting off the free radicals that are responsible for damaging your DNA and causing cell mutations. It also helps in preventing heart diseases and stroke. Vitamin C has also been found to be useful in treating preeclampsia in pregnant women, treating Parkinson’s disease, increasing sperm counts, and treating autoimmune disorders.
Vitamin A and vitamin B6 are other two important vitamins that you can get from cuttlefish. While vitamin A is associated with healthy immune system, good vision and cell growth, vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) deals with prevention of heart diseases (by preventing the buildup of Homocysteine), lowering cholesterol, lowering high blood pressure, preventing carpal tunnel syndrome, prevention of kidney stones, alleviation of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and many more.
Cuttlefish is a great source of minerals
Cuttlefish also provides considerable amounts of essential minerals. It is a rich source of selenium, which functions as a potential antioxidant and prevents cell damage caused by free radicals. Cuttlefish contains iron, which is responsible for carrying oxygen to the blood cells. Consumption of cuttlefish helps in preventing anemia caused by deficiency of iron. You can get a good amount of phosphorus from cuttlefish, which helps in maintaining healthy bones and teeth, boosting energy, improving digestion, regulating hormones, and maintaining proper functioning of the brain.
The copper in cuttlefish helps in the proper utilization of iron by your body, boosting energy, preventing early aging, regulating heart beat, promoting healing of wounds and increasing the production of red blood cells. This mollusk contains calcium that strengthens the bones and teeth, prevents osteoporosis, alleviates PMS symptoms, combats cancer and protects your heart. The high levels of potassium in cuttlefish helps in lowering blood pressure, preventing stroke, preventing heart and kidney disorders, enhancing muscle strength, preventing anxiety and stress, improving metabolism, maintaining water balance and electrolytic functions, and maintaining the health of the nervous system.
In addition to offering various health benefits, cuttlefish also serves as a popular food in many parts of the world. In Southeast Asia they are dried and used as a snack food. In Italy, cuttlefish ink is used to make black pasta whereas in Spain, they use the ink to make black paella. Cuttlefish ink is considered to be one of the world’s greatest super foods that provides nutrition, improves health and protects against many serious health conditions.Image Credits: Wikimedia -Lung 2 BB, Wikimedia - Schellack