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The Effects of Eating Raw Oysters

By Julie Hampton

You no longer have to live on the coast to enjoy a dozen oysters -- restaurants and raw bars across the country serve raw oysters. The shelled seafood varies in taste based on size and the location where they have been harvested. Medium to large oysters may have a briny taste, while smaller oysters are sweeter. Raw oysters are enjoyed plain or topped with a variety of condiments from freshly squeezed lemon to vinegar. Eating raw oyster may have a variety of effects. If you are pregnant, you must put your oyster craving on hold.

Possible Bacterial Infection

Occasionally a “bad” raw oyster may be laden with bacteria, and painful food poisoning results. Symptoms of eating a bacteria-infested raw oyster include chills, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus, cause more severe reactions. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, loss of skin, kidney failure, excruciating pain and even death may occur with this bacteria. According to the Forbes website, 40 percent of untreated Vibrio vulnificus infections result in death. Many oysters actually carry the bacteria, but some people are more susceptible to a severe reaction including those with AIDS, diabetes, cancer and liver disease. Though a bad oyster is often difficult to identify, the oyster may be slightly dry and shriveled, as well have an extremely foul odor.


While raw oysters has featured prominently in folklore as an aphrodisiac for hundreds of years, today scientific evidence may support it. Oysters contain high amounts of zinc that increase sperm production, reports the LiveScience website. Raw oysters may also boost libido. LiveScience reports the raw seafood treat is high in D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate amino acids that produce higher levels of testosterone or progesterone. In one study, when raw oysters where fed to rats, an increase in these hormones were detected. If the oysters were cooked, the levels of amino acids responsible for increased libido severely declined.


When eating about five to six raw oysters you are receiving the daily recommended allowance of iron, copper, iodine, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese and phosphorus, according to the GlobalGourmet website. Oysters are low in cholesterol and high in a variety of vitamins. Raw oysters include vitamins A, C, D, as well as thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. A serving of six to eight medium raw oysters contains about 69 calories and 55 mg of cholesterol.

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