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Excuse Buster: Making Maori mighty



PHUKET: Seafood – alongside avocados and coconuts – is my all-time favorite meal.

After living in landlocked locations in the United Kingdom and Europe for the past 12 years, it is good to be living in Phuket – back by the sea, enjoying fresh seafood again.

On the menu in the Burton house last week were mussels tom-ka style, with these ones coming from New Zealand – the famous ‘green-shelled’ variety that were considered a source of the Maoris’ (indigenous people of New Zealand) massive size and strength. But, on the weekends, I am always on the lookout at our nearby market for the fresh, local variety, along with other seafood treats such as squid, wild shrimp and wild fish.


The ocean has always been a great source of nutrition, and mussels are without a doubt a superfood of the sea.

So before popping an assortment of pills to get more omega-3, selenium, iron, zinc and Vitamin B, along with a huge amount of other nutrients, try a serving of mussels with a healthy supply of other seafood choices and clean whole foods.


Fish oil is renowned for its omega-3 anti-inflammatory action, but mussels, especially the New Zealand variety, have a certain type of rare omega-3 called eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA). ETA has been shown to have impressive anti-inflammatory properties, more so than any other omega 3 source – including fish oil. No wonder the All Blacks can run through walls.


Your thyroid is the master gland of metabolism and your friend to staying lean, energetic and healthy. Two critical minerals for a healthy thyroid are iodine and selenium, both severely lacking in the standard nutrient-poor western diet, which is one reason for the high number of dysfunctional thyroid cases. But mussels are a rich source of both: a serving portion of six mussels will meet most people’s daily requirement.


Healthy iron levels are critical for adequate amounts of energy. One hundred grams of mussels has about 10mg of iron – it takes more than 300g of lean beef to rival that. Mussels are also a rich source of vitamin B12 and folic acid, both essential to energy and well-being.


Shellfish have long been considered nature’s aphrodisiacs, which has a lot to do with their high zinc content. Zinc plays a critical role in producing testosterone, which is responsible for libido in both males and females. Though oysters are the clear winners when it comes to zinc content, mussels are still a good source. Zinc is also essential for a healthy immune


Mussels are nutrient dense, low in calories and packed with good protein to make you feel full and satisfied – a great combination for weight loss. Mussels are mostly protein with 18g of protein per 100g serving (3g of fat and 4g of carbohydrates).


When it comes to buying mussels, it is essential to get them very fresh or to know that they were frozen directly after harvesting and cleaning (as in the case of the New Zealand variety), as they can expire quickly and lead to a nasty case of food poisoning – so trust your nose. Ideally they should come from clean water, as they can pick up toxins in the ocean.

On that note, if you ever suspect that you have eaten unclean food, seek medical advice if you think it is serious, but it is also worth having activated charcoal at home for minor cases, as it can help prevent the poisons from being absorbed by your stomach. It is also good after drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.

Craig Burton is a nutritional expert with more than 15 years of experience at the forefront of the health and well-being field. He offers a high-level of his expertise in functional training and nutrition, focusing on detoxification, food intolerance and nutrient deficiency. For more information about Craig and his services, visit

— Craig Burton


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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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