It’s crawfish season in Louisiana, which means it’s time for the traditional crawfish boil. Besides being great to eat, Louisiana’s favorite crustacean and a staple of Southern cuisine, there are some impressive health benefits of crawfish. Low in calories, Louisiana Wild crawfish are a low-fat source of protein, essential vitamins and minerals, and they have nearly half the calories of roasted, skinless chicken breast.
Crawfish look like tiny lobsters and are typically between 3 inches and 6 inches long. Crawfish inhabit freshwater lakes and streams, and the presence of crawfish indicate that the waters they are in are relatively clean, since they rarely live in waters that are polluted.
Wild crawfish are harvested each year from the vast Atchafalaya River Basin, and approximately 184,000 acres of culture ponds in Louisiana are used to produce more than 100 million pounds of live crawfish annually.
A myth about crawfish was recently dispelled. Louisiana State University’s AG Center conducted a food safety study that determined that there is no correlation between boiled crawfish with straight tails and foul crawfish, so curled crawfish tails or straight, enjoy! (Do avoid crawfish that is mushy, as that is more likely to be spoiled.)
Health benefits of Crawfish
- Crawfish is packed with high-quality protein. A 5-ounce serving of crawfish contains close to 25 grams of protein.
- Crawfish are low in fat and contain only trace amounts of carbohydrates.
- Crawfish are high in B Vitamins and minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc and Phosphorous.
- A 3-ounce serving of cooked crawfish contains 70 calories and 14 grams of protein.
More Facts about Crawfish
- The average person eats 3 lbs. of boiled crawfish, which equals approximately 6-8 oz. of meat; 6-7 lbs. of crawfish is approximately 1 lb. of crawfish meat.
- Boiled crawfish are approximately 15 percent meat.
- When you suck the heads, you’re actually getting some of the fatty organ surrounding the brain that absorbs the flavor.
- It’s a good idea to soak the crawfish before boiling to wash off silt and mud, but you can skip the added salt bath. Purging crawfish by bathing them in a salty brine doesn’t actually expel more mud.
- Like some seafood, crawfish is high in cholesterol. A 5-ounce serving contains close to 200 milligrams. The USDA recommends no more than 300 milligrams per day.
Incorporating Crawfish into your diet
Eating more seafood as part of a healthy diet is recommended in the USDA Dietary Guidelines. Now that you know about the nutritional benefits of eating crawfish, here are some ways to incorporate more crawfish into you diet:
- Purchase Louisiana crawfish tails when in season to freeze and use throughout the year.
- Crawfish may be substituted for any recipe that calls for shrimp, just remember the tails are already cooked, so add them closer to the end.
- Liven up soups, salads and pasta dishes with crawfish instead of chicken or other fish.
- Add to omelets, quiches, stir fries, enchiladas, quesadillas, corn bread, dips and more.
April is Louisiana Crawfish Awareness Month
Each year, Deanie's celebrates Crawfish Season with its Pinch A Palooza Festival and Crawfish Eating Contest, which takes place Sun., April 17 at Deanie's original location in Bucktown.
Deanie’s Seafood--one of the first restaurants in the Greater New Orleans region to serve boiled seafood--sought a resolution to raise awareness about the importance of the crawfish industry, recognize the fishermen of Louisiana and celebrate Louisiana’s Cajun French heritage. The resolution naming April “Louisiana Crawfish Awareness Month” was sponsored by State Rep. Nick Lorusso, R-New Orleans, and signed and enrolled on April 15, 2015.
“Crawfish and seafood have a strong economic and cultural role in the lives of Louisianians, and this role is typified by family owned restaurants in Louisiana, such as Deanie's Seafood Restaurants and Seafood Market, where Louisiana's culture of strong family and community ties combines with culinary heritage and traditions,” the resolution reads. Read the full resolution here.