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Keto Seafood: Top 5 Choices and Their Health Benefits

By Liam McAuliffe M.T.S. Updated on

Keto seafood options are packed with vital nutrients like zinc, vitamin C, and unique antioxidants. Foods like oysters, shrimp, and crab play a starring role in the pescatarian keto, and Mediterranean keto diets, while providing delicious variety to your standard keto and carnivores diets

However, some keto seafood like oysters and shrimp do contain some carbs to be aware of. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at a list of the best seafood for a keto diet along with their unique health benefits. 

Table of Contents

How to Choose The Best Keto Seafood

keto seafood

A ketogenic diet is based on a high-fat, low-carb, and moderate-protein way of eating. 

Fortunately, when if comes to keto seafood you don’t have to worry about carbs. But most seafood are surprisingly lean. 

This makes selecting the fattiest seafood and adding healthy keto fats like butter, ghee, tallow, and coconut oil a must. 

An important rule of thumb is to prepare your keto seafood dishes in ways that fall as close as possible within these macronutrient ranges: 

  • 70-80% of calories from fat
  • 15-30% calories from protein
  • 0-10% calories from carbohydrate

It’s worth noting that once your body is adapted to keto after a few weeks to a month or so, you can allow for up to 60 grams of carbs per day depending on your metabolism and activity level. But when just starting out it’s likely that you’ll want to cut carbs to less than 20 grams per day. 

Let’s turn to a list of some of the most popular keto seafood with their macronutrient breakdown. As you’ll see most keto seafood, though low in carbs, is also low in fat.

Fish

TYPE OF FISH CALORIES FAT PROTEIN CARBS % CALORIES FROM FAT % CALORIES FROM PROTEIN
Atlantic Mackerel 290 20.3 27 0 63 37
Farmed Arctic Char 208 12 19 0 58 42
Anchovies 256 15.9 28 0 56 44
Farmed Salmon 234 14 25 0 56 44
Wild King Salmon 195 13 22 0 54 46
Sardines 139 8 19 0 50 50

Roe and Shellfish

Type of Seafood Calories Fat Protein Carbs % Calories from fat % Calories from protein % Calories from carbs
Salmon Caviar (Roe) 260 14 29 2.9 45 52 3%
Oysters 58 1.9 6.5 3.1 29 33 28
Mussels 97 2.8 13.5 4.5 26 56 19
Shrimp 135 2.0 25.8 1.7 18 78 4
Dungeness Crab 107 2.0 22 0 17 82 0
Lobster 116 1.8 25 0 14 86 0
Clams 82 1.1 15 3 12 73 15
Scallops 97 1.0 19 3 9 78 12

Top 5 Keto Seafoods

Seafood adds variety to your keto diet both in terms of taste and nutrients. 

Take oysters for example–they’re a fantastic source of zinc offering over 600% per serving. 

If you’re going full carnivore, Salmon roe is one of the few significant sources of vitamin C in animal foods.  

There are also various orange pigmented seafood like lobster, roe, and shrimp that provide an antioxidant called Astaxanthin. 

Research has revealed that it may be 6,000 times more powerful than vitamin C. Studies have also shown that it can reduce oxidative stress and protect your liver. [22] [23] [24]

In this list we offer a mix of fish and shellfish. And we provide a more extensive list of keto fish and their benefits here. 

Keto Seafood #1: Salmon Roe 

salmon roe

Salmon eggs are one of the earth’s most nutrient-dense superfoods. Also known as ikura and salmon caviar, these little morsels are loaded with highly bioavailable vitamins A, B, D, and K2, zinc, iodine.

They’re also prized for their neuroprotective and brain-building omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. [25]

Some of the many health benefits associated with salmon roe include: 

  • Neuroprotection against Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Supporting the development of the infant’s brain
  • Improves fertility for both men and women
  • Elevated cognitive ability
  • Anti-depressive properties
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Improved heart health
  • Antioxidant properties
  • Boosted immune system

You can explore salmon roe’s superfood benefits in-depth here. 

Salmon Roe nutrition per 100g

NUTRIENTS AMOUNT
CALORIES 250 kcal
CARBOHYDRATE 2.90 g
  FIBER 0 g
  SUGARS 0 g
FAT 14.0 g
  SATURATED FAT 2.04 g
  MONOUNSATURATED FAT 4.13 g
  POLYUNSATURATED FAT 4.12 g
    OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS 3.50 g
    OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS 0.31 g
PROTEIN 29.20 g
VITAMINS
COBALAMIN (B12) 20.0 mcg 333 %
VITAMIN E 10mg 66%
VITAMIN D 232 IU 58 %
CHOLINE 247.5 mg 45 %
PANTOTHENIC ACID (B5) 3.50 mg 35 %
VITAMIN C 16 mg 26 %
RIBOFLAVIN (B2) 0.36 mg 21.2 %
PYRIDOXINE (B6) 0.32 mg 16.0 %
VITAMIN E 2.68 mg 13.3 %
FOLATE 50.0 mcg 12.5 %
VITAMIN A 91 mcg RAE 10.1 %
THIAMIN (B1) 0.14 mg 9.3 %
NIACIN (B3) 0.40 mg 2.0 %
VITAMIN K 0.73 mcg 0.9 %
Selenium 65.5 mcg 93.6%
Magnesium 300 mg 75%
Iron 11.88 mg 66%
Sodium 1500 mg 62.5%
Phosphorus 390 mg 39%
Calcium 275 mg 27.5%

Keto Seafood #2: Oysters

are oysters good for you?

Keto dieters devour oysters for their unique textures, subtle flavors, and even for their purported aphrodisiac effects. But most people aren’t aware of the nutrients packed into these little bivalves. 

Let’s take a look at some oyster nutrition highlights. 

Zinc in Oysters

Just 3.5 ounces of oysters contains over 600% of your RDV.  Zinc works in tandem with vital fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, to regulate immunity, metabolism, and bone health among other critical functions. 

The pioneering diet researcher Weston A. Price discovered that the presence of these nutrients together was a feature of traditional cultures that were essentially free from “diseases of civilization” including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis .5

Reduced Oxidation

Oysters provide vitamins that double as antioxidants, including zinc along with vitamin D, vitamin B12, and selenium. 7 8

Oysters are also a source of a recently discovered antioxidant known as 3,5-Dihydroxy-4-methoxybenzyl alcohol or DHMBA. Researchers have found that DHMBA has offers 15 times more antioxidant power than synthetic vitamin E. 9

Nutrients per 100 grams

RAW OYSTER % RDV
CALORIES 68 
PROTEIN 7 grams
FAT 2.5 grams
CARBS 3.9 grams
VITAMIN D 320 IU 80%
VITAMIN B12 19.5 mcg 324%
IRON 6.7 mg 37%
MAGNESIUM 47 mg 12%
PHOSPHORUS  135 mg 14%
ZINC 90.8 mg 605%
COPPER 4.5 mg 223%
MANGANESE 0.4 mg 18%
SELENIUM 63.7 mcg 91%

Keto Seafood #3: Dungeness Crab

Dungeness Crab

Dungeness crab is a great source of selenium. This mineral reduces inflammation and may protect against prostate cancer. 10 11

It’s also loaded with B12 and omega-3 fatty acids including DHA and EPA. Promising research has shown that the combination of these compounds can increase each other’s brain health promoting activities. 12

Nutrients per 100 grams

Dungeness Crab 81 CALORIES % RDV
PROTEIN 17 grams
FAT 1 gram
DHA (fatty acid) .009g 44%
EPA (fatty acid) .22g 73%
CARBS 1 gram
VITAMIN B3 (Niacin) 3.1 mg 20%
VITAMIN B12 19.5 mcg 324%
MAGNESIUM 47 mg 12%
PHOSPHORUS  182 mg 18%
ZINC 4.3 mg 31%
COPPER .7 mg 75%
SELENIUM 37.1 mcg 67%

Keto Seafood #4: Atlantic Mackeral 

Atlantic mackerel is fatty, nutrient-packed, low in mercury, and affordable. 

Highlights include 91% of your RDA in vitamin D per serving, making Atlantic mackerel one of the richest vitamin D food sources on the planet. 

Vitamin D plays an important role in immune function and regulating inflammation. 2 Not surprisingly, vitamin D has been shown effective in reducing the severity of COVID-19. 3

Atlantic mackerel is also loaded with 2990 mg of omega-3 per 3.5 oz serving. This can go a long way in rebalancing our over-abundance of omega-6’s that we get from vegetable and nut oils. The Standard American Diet has an alarming 1:16 omega 3 to 6 ratio. The human diet evolved with a 1:1 ratio. 

Quality mackeral can come in canned form, making it a great keto snack. 

Best of all, 3 lbs of canned mackerel come in at around $20

Nutrients in Atlantic Mackerel Per 3 oz. 

Atlantic Mackerel  Amount per 3 oz.  % RDA
Fat 12g
Saturated Fat 2.6g
Cholesterol 60mg
Protein 16.2g
Vitamins
Vitamin D 546.6IU 91%
Vitamin B12  7.4µg 309%
B3 7.7mg 48%
B2 .3 26%
B6 .3mg 26%
B5 .8gm 14%
Vitamin A 453.0IU 15%
Significant Minerals
Selenium  37µg 68%
Magnesium 65mg 15%
Potassium 267mg 6.8%

Keto Seafood #5: Mussels

Of all the top keto seafood, mussels take the prize for providing the most vitamin B12 at 500% of your RDA per serving. 

Mussels are also one of the best dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. 

Studies have shown that these fatty acids are crucial for fetal development, including brain and immune function. 

They also play a major role in cardiovascular health, acting as anticoagulants while reducing inflammation to provide protection against artery disease and heart attacks. EPA and DHA have also been linked to preventing Alzheimer’s disease, managing body weight, and cognitive function. 13

Mussels Amount per 3 oz.  % RDA
Fat 2g
DHA (fatty acid) .25g 127%
EPA (fatty acid) .19g 63%
Cholesterol 28mg
Protein 12g
Vitamins
Vitamin B12  12µg 500%
B3 1.6mg 10%
B2 .2 16%
B5 .5gm 10%
Significant Minerals
Selenium  44.8µg 81%
Iron 4mg 22%
Manganese 3.4mg 148%

Possible Downsides to Seafood on Keto

Nearly all fish and shellfish contain some heavy metals and mercury from industrial waste in our oceans. Shellfish generally have less mercury than other fish.14 15 

Low Mercury Keto Seafood

All the keto seafood options on this list are low in Mercury. These along with other low mercury keto seafood Include: 

  • Anchovies
  • Atlantic croaker
  • Atlantic and Pacific chub mackerels
  • Black sea bass
  • Butterfish
  • Catfish
  • Clams
  • Cod
  • Crab
  • Crawfish
  • Flounder
  • Freshwater trout
  • Haddock
  • Hake
  • Herring
  • American spiny lobster
  • Mullet
  • Oyster
  • Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Plaice
  • Pollock
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Scallops
  • Shad
  • Shrimp
  • Skate
  • Smelt
  • Sole
  • Squid (calamari)
  • Tilapia
  • Tuna (canned light, skipjack)
  • Whitefish
  • Whiting

Keto Seafood: The Takeaway

The best keto seafood provide an extensive list of crucial vitamins and minerals including robust amounts of vitamin B and D, zinc, selenium, copper, and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Though most keto seafood are excellent sources of protein, most of them are fairly lean. This means you’ll have to boost the fat of your seafood with whole food fats like tallow, and butter. But that’s no reason not to add them to your everyday keto grocery list

Pescatarian keto dieters have the pleasure of making this keto seafood the center of their culinary universe. While carnivore dieters and nose-to-tail aficionados will enjoy the diverse nutrients and gastronomic varieties of these fruits of the ocean.

© 2022 DOCTOR ROBERT KILTZ. ALL RIGHT RESERVED