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All about “Clam”

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Health profile

The clam is a good source of several minerals including iron, selenium, manganese, copper, zinc and phosphorus. These characteristics, combined with its high protein and low lipid content, give the clam a special place in healthy eating.

Active ingredients and properties

The active ingredients in clams have not been the subject of specific studies. However, we note a few studies showing interesting results on the benefits of eating fish and seafood. First, a study of more than 14,000 women showed that the more they eat fish and seafood. sea, the lower their risk of developing colorectal cancer 1 . Another study, carried out with Chinese men, showed that the weekly consumption of at least one meal of fish or seafood would decrease the risk of fatal myocardial infarction , compared to a less consumption 2. At present, the beneficial effects of consuming fish and seafood cannot be associated with any particular active ingredient; clinical studies are necessary in order to identify the components concerned. On the other hand, the presence of omega-3 fatty acids in these marine products could have an important role to play.

Omega-3 fatty acids. The clam contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two fatty acids from the omega-3 family. These act as precursors of chemical messengers promoting good immune, circulatory and hormonal functioning. Several epidemiological and clinical studies have shown that the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids (mainly from fatty fish) could exert favorable effects on cardiovascular health , including the reduction of mortality from cardiovascular disease 3 . These fatty acids are known to reduce blood pressure, blood triglycerides and the formation of blood clots .

Even if the optimal amounts of omega-3 fatty acids to consume have not been firmly established, scientific evidence shows that the daily consumption of 500 mg to 1,800 mg of EPA and DHA would make it possible to benefit from the related benefits 4 . A 100 g serving of clams provides almost 300 mg. For comparison, the clam contains about seven times less omega-3 fatty acids than salmon, a fatty fish.

Most important nutrients

See the meaning of the nutrient source classification symbols

 Phosphorus. Clam is an excellent source of phosphorus (see our fact sheet Phosphorus nutrients ), the second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium. Aside from its essential role in the formation of bones and teeth, it participates among other things in the growth and regeneration of tissues. It helps to keep the pH of the blood normal. It is also one of the constituents of cell membranes.

 Zinc. Clam is an excellent source of zinc. Zinc is involved in particular in immune reactions, in the production of genetic material, in the perception of taste, in the healing of wounds and in the development of the fetus. Zinc also interacts with sex and thyroid hormones. In the pancreas, it participates in the synthesis (manufacture), the storage and the release of insulin

 Copper. The clam is an excellent source of copper. As a constituent of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (protein used for the structure and repair of tissues) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also help the body’s defense against free radicals.

 Selenium. The clam is an excellent source of selenium. This mineral works in conjunction with one of the main antioxidant enzymes, preventing the formation of free radicals in the body. In addition, it helps to convert thyroid hormones to their active form.

 Vitamin B12. The clam is an excellent source of vitamin B12, a 100 g serving more than four times the recommended daily requirement. Vitamin B12 works together with folic acid to make red blood cells. It is also useful for the maintenance of nerve cells and cells that make bone tissue.

 Vitamin B2. Clam is an excellent source of vitamin B2, also called riboflavin. This vitamin plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells. In addition, it contributes to tissue growth and repair, hormone production and the formation of red blood cells.

 Vitamin B3. Clam is a good source of vitamin B3, also called niacin. Vitamin B3 participates in many metabolic reactions and contributes especially to the production of energy from the carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and alcohol that we ingest. It also participates in the DNA formation process .

 Iron. Clam is a  good source of iron. A 100 g serving of clams meets about 15% of the daily needs of women and 35% of the needs of men. . Iron is essential for the transport of oxygen in the blood and the formation of red blood cells, in addition to playing a role in the production of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters.

 Vitamin A. Clam is a good source of vitamin A. This vitamin is one of the most versatile, playing a role in several body functions. Among other things, it promotes the growth of bones and teeth, keeps the skin healthy and protects against infections. In addition, it plays an antioxidant role and promotes good vision.

Manganese. The clam contains manganese. Manganese acts as a cofactor for several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also protects the body from damage caused by free radicals. There is no recommended nutritional intake for manganese, but sufficient intake.

Iodine. The clam contains iodine. Iodine is used in the composition of thyroid hormones, which are necessary for the regulation of growth, development and metabolism. The exact value of the iodine content of the clam is not available from the Canadian Nutrient File .

What is a “portion” of clam worth?
Weight / volume Steam or porridge: 100 g (about eight large clams)

Canned, drained: 100 g / 150 ml

Calories 148
Protein 25.6 g
Carbohydrates 5.1g
Fat 1.9g
Dietary fiber 0.0 g

Source  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File , 2005.


Fish and seafood are among the nine most common food allergens in Canada. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, it is possible that a person who has an allergy to a given fish or seafood is also allergic to other species belonging to the same type (fish, crustacean or mollusk ), without necessarily being allergic to other types. For example, a person with an allergy to clam could also be allergic to an oyster, both of which are shellfish. It is still strongly recommended to people allergic to these foods to consult an allergist before introducing new ones in their diet.

Pregnant and lactating women should avoid eating clams. Indeed, microorganisms particularly dangerous for pregnant women like Listeria, E.Coli, Salmonella and Vibrio can lodge in seafood. These bacteria, which contaminate clams in particular, can cause food poisoning and make them very sick. If food poisoning is very serious, the fetus may be affected (intrauterine growth retardation, malformations, premature delivery).

The clam over time

The term ”  clam  ” appeared in the French language in 1540. It comes from the popular Latin pelorida, which borrowed it from the classical Latin peloris.

Anglicism ”  clam  ” is used, especially in Europe, to designate one of our North American bivalves.

The number of known clam species is estimated to be around 2,000 if clams, clams, knives, cockles and other geoduck clams are included. Like the other molluscs, they have been consumed by the inhabitants of the coastal regions of the planet since prehistoric times. On the Atlantic coast, the Amerindians prepared such quantities that we found, in certain places, mounds of shells ten meters high. Among the tribes of New England, the meal of clams was prepared during a ritual intended to honor the Ancients. As for the empty shells, they were used as tools, ornaments or as money to buy food, clothes and plots of land or to pay for labor. It is for this last reason that one of the species has been given the Latin name ofMercenaria mercenaria , which means “salary”.


Real sea monsters

Certain species, such as the sea clam (or northern quahog) which frequents Atlantic waters, reach the venerable age of 200 years. Others, such as the geoduck clam, have a foot long of one meter, which allows them to sink deep into the mud and shelter from fishermen. Others, including the tridacne from the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean, can weigh 500 pounds and feed an entire village for several weeks.

In France and England the XVI th  and XVII th  centuries, the villagers were waiting for the return of the fishermen equipped with “boiler” who were to receive their share of marine manna that women then cuisineraient to the community under the forms huge chowder. Hence the name of this cult dish and its English equivalent chowder . Immigrant settlers in the United States and Canada will carry on the tradition, and chowder will become a staple of the cuisine of coastal regions of the New World. At the end of the 17th century century, we knew more than fifty recipes. These dishes included the catch of fish and molluscs of the day, onions and pork, all placed in successive layers in the pan, and inevitably seasoned with parsley, marjoram, savory and thyme.

As the demand for clams continues to grow, we started growing it 20 or 30 years ago. In this type of breeding, which is called “venericulture”, the adults are kept in hatcheries and are fed on phytoplankton. The larvae from the eggs attach themselves to supports where they are harvested and then “sown” them in the sand in the intertidal zones. After two or three years, the clams are ready to be picked up. British Columbia is the most cultivated province in Canada. Elsewhere in the world, especially in Asia, other species are bred, including the giant tridacne.

Culinary uses

Choose well

The clam is offered year-round, but it is in spring that it reaches its optimum quality. There are different sizes, the average being 3.5 cm. At the time of purchase, make sure that the clams are alive, that is to say well closed. If they are slightly open, strike the shell which should then close. Otherwise, set them aside.


Wash the clams with plenty of water to remove any sand they may contain, or soak them for a few hours in salt water.

Culinary dishes

The largest clams (more than 7 cm in diameter) are generally prepared in chowder because their flesh is tough. The medium ones (4 cm to 7 cm) are stuffed and cooked under the grill. More tender, the small ones (less than 4 cm) are eaten raw, in sushi, for example, or simply sprinkled with lemon juice, or quickly steamed and served as is, or added with their shell in pasta dishes , paella, etc. Whatever the method of preparation, eliminate those that did not open during cooking.

  • In court-bouillon  : sauté shallots or onions, add clams, white wine, thyme, parsley and bay leaf and cook until clams are open. Prepare a sauce with butter, flour, cooking liquid, heat until it thickens, add cream and saffron. Serve the clams in a half-shell, coated with sauce.
  • Warm salad: sauté garlic in a pan, add clams and white wine and cook for about three minutes, shaking the pan regularly. Cover if the clams have still not opened and cook for a few more minutes. Reserve the clams, reduce the cooking juices, add fresh parsley and a good handful of arugula, cook for one minute and serve on the clams.
  • Thai salad: cook spaghetti or vermicelli and cool in cold water. Mix them with canned clams, minced shallot and diced mango. Season with a vinaigrette made up of lemon juice, raw sesame oil, sweet Thai sauce with chilli, lemongrass and fresh green chilli.
  • Stuffed: open the clams by cooking them for a few minutes in boiling water. Shell them, then put them back in a half-shell with the stuffing of their choice: chopped hazelnuts, cut vegetables (carrot, zucchini, eggplant, onion, shallot) and sauté for a few minutes in oil, with herbs and l ‘chopped garlic. Serve them as they are or pass them under the grill for two or three minutes. Or add a mince of onion, mushroom and tomato returned in a little oil; garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and place under the grill.
  • On a bed of pasta: prepare a tomato sauce seasoned with garlic, basil and capers, add cooked and shelled clams as well as other seafood if desired, reheat for a few minutes and serve over pasta.
  • Pickled: cook and shell clams or use canned clams. Marinate them with olive oil and lemon juice (in the usual proportions of a vinaigrette), onion, minced garlic and parsley, salt and pepper. Put in the fridge for a few hours, then drain, reserving the marinade. Serve on greens with sliced ​​tomatoes and, if desired, quarters of boiled eggs. Drizzle with the dressing.
  • Mushrooms stuffed with clams: clean large mushrooms and remove the stalks. Coat the hats with melted butter or olive oil, turn them upside down on a baking sheet and place a clam on each of them. Coat with a tablespoon of horseradish or chilli sauce and spend ten minutes under the grill.
  • Japanese soup: clean oyster mushrooms or enoki mushrooms and blanch them in boiling water, then rinse them in cold water. Cook the clams in a dashi broth and remove them when they are open. Strain the broth and return to the heat with wakame seaweed, soy sauce and a spoonful of sake (optional). Add the mushrooms and reheat. Serve by placing one or more open clams in each of the bowls and pouring in the broth so as to evenly distribute the mushrooms and algae.
  • Seafood fondue: this Japanese-style nabe combines shrimp and clams, fish (mackerel, yellowtail flounder, sea bream, sea bass or any other sea fish), chicken, noodles (if possible based on apple starch earth or bean or, failing that, vermicelli), tofu, snow peas, watercress, spring onion and Chinese cabbage rolls (blanched in boiling water, drained and pressed in a small bamboo mat to form rolls which will then be cut into large slices). The ingredients are cooked at the table in a dashi broth seasoned with soy sauce and mirin, and are accompanied by grated white radish and ginger, lemon wedges and chopped spring onion.


Refrigerator: a few days in the lower part of the refrigerator, wrapped in a damp cloth, but preferably consume them the same day of purchase.

Freezer: two or three months. Freeze them raw in their juice and salt water, after opening them. Avoid freezing cooked clams as their flesh will become too tough.

Ecology and environment

Although wild clam stocks are generally considered to be abundant, there are concerns that some populations, including those of the American clam ( Mercenaria mercenaria ) , are declining . A sampling spread over 24 years (1978 to 2001) indeed revealed that the stocks decreased from 65% to 72% in the fishing territories of North Carolina. The density of breeding adults, in particular, has decreased considerably in this area, as a result of their over-exploitation. For experts working on this issue, the solution lies in the establishment of sanctuariesfor breeders to protect stocks of this species and other invertebrates of commercial interest. Increasingly practiced, clam farming is another means of protecting the resource, especially since, unlike that of salmon or trout, it has few harmful consequences on the environment. The Monterey Bay Aquarium SeaWatch program therefore recommends buying farmed clams preferably.

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