Octopus, like nearly all seafood, is lean and low in calories. A 3-ounce serving of octopus has less than 150 calories and more than 25 grams of protein. Octopus is naturally low in fat, but it is high in cholesterol, which can be harmful if you consume too much. This type of seafood is full of several key nutrients, including trace minerals and vitamin B-12. Keep your serving of octopus healthy by opting for healthy low-fat cooking methods to avoid adding excessive fat and calories.
Fat and Cholesterol
One 3-ounce serving of octopus provides less than 2 grams of total fat — including less than .5 gram from saturated fat. This harmful fat increases low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol in your blood, upping your overall risk of heart disease. Saturated fat should make up less than 7 percent of your total calories. Since fats have 9 calories per gram, you can have up to 22 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet. The remaining fat grams should come from good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These heart-healthy fats, also called MUFAs and PUFAs, regulate blood cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease. Octopus also contains cholesterol. While cholesterol is not a fat, it can boost your risk of heart disease, just like saturated fat, when you consume too much. Keep your total intake of cholesterol to under 200 milligrams per day to keep your heart healthy, explains the Cleveland Clinic. This serving of octopus has more than 80 milligrams of cholesterol.
Octopus is naturally high in iron, providing all of the necessary iron for men and nearly half of the recommended amount for women. Iron is a trace mineral, meaning you only need small amounts each day. This mineral is a carrier of oxygen and transports oxygen to cells, tissues and vital organs. Iron also plays a role in cell growth. Men need 8 milligrams of daily iron, while women require 18 milligrams. One 3-ounce portion of octopus offers more than 8 milligrams.
Octopus provides more than your daily recommended amount of selenium. This trace mineral plays a role in protein metabolism during digestion. Selenium also acts as an antioxidant by ridding your body of damaging free radicals. When free radicals scavenge through your system, they feed on healthy cells and increase your risk of chronic disease. Antioxidants, like selenium, protect cells by neutralizing free radicals. You need 55 micrograms of daily selenium, the Linus Pauling Institute reports. One 3-ounce serving of octopus contains about 75 micrograms.
Octopus exceeds your daily requirement of vitamin B-12. This vitamin is essential for metabolism, creating new red blood cells and supporting everyday brain functions. You need 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 each day, says the Office of Dietary Supplements. Having a 3-ounce serving of octopus for dinner offers more than 30 micrograms. There are no adverse effects from consuming too much B-12, because your body excretes excess amounts through urine.
Thoroughly clean octopus before cooking it. Remove inedible parts such as eyes, beak, tentacles, intestines and ink sac. Thoroughly wash octopus to remove any sand particles. Your butcher can clean it for you if you are unsure about which parts to remove. Avoid unhealthy cooking methods, such as frying or sauteing in butter, to keep your fat and calorie intake to a minimum. Instead, use nonstick cooking spray to keep your cut of octopus from sticking to the grill or saute pan. Nonstick cooking spray does not have fat or calories. Grilling octopus adds a rich, smoky flavor that pairs well with grilled asparagus or squash. Another alternative is to saute octopus chunks and simmer them in seafood stock. Add onions, leeks and bay leaves to your pan and season the mixture lightly with salt and pepper. Drizzle the dish with fresh lemon juice before serving. These cooking methods keep your serving of octopus light and healthy.