In my early 20’s I would regularly eat a crab salad made with imitation crab meat. I was not a big fish lover and this convenient and mild tasting “crab” was one of my favorite “healthy” ways to get fish into my diet (or so I thought at the time). I often enjoyed crab Rangoon and crab cakes from our local Chinese takeout too.
Chances are if you have dined on seafood from a Sushi, Chinese restaurant or grocery store, you have probably eaten imitation crab meat. So what? some of us might say – Wikipedia states “Crab sticks, imitation crab meat or seafood sticks are seafood made of starch and finely pulverized white fish, shaped and cured to resemble the leg meat of snow crab or Japanese spider crab.” Um, YUCK!
Imitation crab meat contains more starch and carbohydrate than protein (almost 2/3rds of the calories come from carbs) and is not a vegan or vegetarian food as is commonly believed. Real crab meat in contrast is 85% protein and 1% carbs. Real crab meat is an excellent source of protein and contains heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins A, C, and B including B 12, and the minerals phosphorus, zinc, copper, calcium, selenium, and chromium.
Low nutrition profile aside, imitation crab meat may contain additional additives including MSG, gluten, sugar, hydrolyzed corn, soy & wheat (gmo’s), unhealthy vegetable oils and other possible allergens. None of which is in real crab meat (unless you have a shellfish allergy).
Dr. Axe sums it up well in his recent article Imitation Crab Meat May Be Worse Than You Think: “Because of its sparse nutrient profile and long list of additives, many people consider it to be the seafood equivalent of the hot dog, made of fish parts and questionable ingredients that have been ground up into a cheap, highly processed convenience food.”
Whole food in it’s natural, unprocessed, unadulterated state is always best, so I’ll take a pass on imitation crab meat…and stick with the real thing!
-Cynthia Hill, NTP