Soft shell crab is a seasonal food that, while available year-round if frozen, is best when fresh. The season for soft shell crab runs from May to September. Soft shell crab is a blue crab that is in a specific state of molting. The crab molts its hard, outer shell. At a certain period, the shell comes off and the crab is a "soft shell." The closer it is found to this period, the better the crab is. The crab finds its way into multiple seafood dishes, with multiple preparations. There are multiple nutritional reasons to make this crab a part of your regular diet.
Soft shell crabs come in various sizes, as listed by Virginia Seafood. Mediums are the smallest type of soft shell crab, only 3 1/2 to 4 inches across the back. Hotels are next, 4 to 4 1/2 inches. Primes are 4 1/2 to 5 inches across the back. Jumbos are 5 to 5 1/2 across. Whales are the largest type of soft shell crab, coming in larger than 5 1/2 inches.
Soft shell crab is simply blue crab, so the nutritional information for soft shell crab is for blue crab. This guide focuses on the U.S. Department of Agriculture definition of raw blue crab. The serving size is considered 3 ounces of raw crab meat.
Soft shell crab is low in calories, with 74 calories per serving. The crab is also low in fat, with 1 gram of fat per serving. Of this fat, only .2 of a gram are considered bad fats (saturated fats). The most beneficial nutritional aspect of soft shell crab is the protein. Each serving has 15 grams of protein. That is more than 30 percent of your daily recommended amount.
While there are multiple benefits to adding soft shell crab to your diet, there are also some drawbacks. The first major drawback to consider is the sodium content of the crab. A serving has 249 mg of sodium. This is 10 percent of your daily recommended amount of sodium.
The other drawback to consider is the high amount of cholesterol in soft shell crab. There are 66 mg of cholesterol in every serving of crab. This is 22 percent of your daily recommended amount of cholesterol. Too much bad cholesterol can lead to artery issues and heart problems.
In addition to the high protein levels, soft shell crab is high in minerals. One serving has 19 percent of your daily recommendation of phosphorus and 8 percent of your daily value of potassium. There is 20 percent of your daily recommended amount of zinc in one serving and 28 percent of your daily value of copper.
Those who are low in niacin, vitamin B6 and folate should consider crab. A serving of crab has 11 percent of your daily value of niacin, 6 percent of vitamin B6 and 9 percent of your daily value of folate. The major feature of soft shell crab, in terms of vitamins, comes from the high amount of vitamin B12. One serving has 127 percent of your daily recommended amount of B12.