Is Grilled Calamari Healthy?

Calamari is delicious seafood that many people enjoy around the world. Also known as squid, calamari can be served fried, steamed, boiled, or grilled. While all cooking methods aren’t equally healthy, you might be wondering if grilled calamari is healthy.

Grilling calamari or squid is a healthy way of cooking this seafood. When frying calamari, you add many calories and saturated fats to the previously healthy seafood. However, when grilling calamari, no saturated fats or carbs are added. Therefore, grilled calamari is healthier than fried calamari.

This article discusses the health benefits of grilled calamari and shares some delicious grilled calamari recipes. In addition, we will also discuss the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in calamari. Finally, we will also discuss how often you can eat grilled calamari to get the full health benefits of this mollusk.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Grilled Calamari?

Calamari, like all seafood, is generally considered to be healthy. However, that depends on how you cook it. In America, calamari is often breaded and fried, then served with a seafood sauce or dip. This is not a healthy way of serving calamari because you add a lot of additional calories to the seafood by breading and frying it.

Fortunately, however, many healthier ways to cook calamari result in the same delicious seafood taste. Grilling is one of the easiest cooking methods for calamari and doesn’t add any calories to this food. So, what are the health benefits of eating grilled calamari, you might ask?

Well, for starters, grilled calamari is high in protein and is also a complete protein source. A 3.5-ounce serving of grilled calamari contains 16 grams of protein, which is a substantial amount. Calamari is also a complete protein, meaning that it has all nine amino acids proteins are comprised of. Therefore, grilled calamari is a healthy source of protein.

Calamari is also high in Omega-3 fatty acids, crucial for brain health. Although calamari doesn’t have as many omegas as salmon or maceral, it still contains about 0.5 grams of omega-3s for a 3.5-ounce serving, which is substantial. Omega-3 is essential for various functions in the human body, particularly the brain.

Calamari contains choline, a nutrient crucial for brain and liver health. Unfortunately, most people don’t have enough choline in their diets. Therefore, food such as calamari is an excellent addition to your diet to ensure you get sufficient amounts of choline. Although eggs are also high in choline, calamari is a fantastic alternative, offering 65 milligrams of choline per 3.5 ounces of calamari.

In addition, calamari contains high amounts of copper, essential for cardiovascular and bone health. A 3.5-ounce serving of calamari contains 1.9 milligrams of copper, which is 95% of an adult’s recommended daily copper intake.

Furthermore, calamari is high in selenium, a mineral that aids your body in absorbing vitamins. A 3.5-ounce serving of calamari has 44.8 milligrams of selenium, which equates to 64% of an adult’s recommended daily selenium intake.

In addition to all these excellent health benefits, a 3.5-ounce portion of grilled calamari only has 92 calories, making it a nutrient-dense food. Therefore, grilled calamari is considered a healthy food, so long as it is taken in moderation.

Calamari contains high amounts of cholesterol. Therefore, you should not overeat calamari, grilled or cooked another way. Cholesterol has damaging effects on your heart health and general health. So despite how delicious it tastes, people with heart conditions or high cholesterol should avoid eating too much calamari.

Calamari also contains some mercury, as most seafood does. Fortunately, however, calamari and squid have considerably less mercury than some other kinds of seafood, making calamari a safer option when eating seafood.

For a complete guide to the nutritional facts of calamari, click here.

As you can see, calamari is a healthy food source. Grilled calamari is also beneficial because you don’t add any saturated fats or carbohydrates to the calamari when cooking it.

Healthy Grilled Calamari Recipes

Although grilled calamari is healthier than fried calamari, many people are unsure how to cook calamari other than frying it. Fortunately, there are many grilled calamari recipes available. Here, we have some recipes.

Most of these recipes involve some kind of sauce or marinade added to the calamari to add flavor. However, some sauces are high in calories and sodium. Therefore, use the minimal sauce on your calamari and opt for sauce options with fewer calories to ensure your calamari stays healthy.

You can eat two or three servings of grilled calamari a week, and a serving is considered 3.5-ounces. However, remember that calamari contains high amounts of cholesterol, as well as sodium and mercury. Therefore, you shouldn’t eat more than three portions of calamari per week.

Grilled calamari is excellent in salads, wraps, and pasta. You can also add grilled calamari to rice for easy seafood paella. Don’t add too much sodium to the dish, as the calamari already has high amounts of sodium.

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Tips For Buying And Grilling Calamari

If you want to have healthier calamari, you will likely have to start cooking it yourself. This way, you can control how the calamari is cooked and what sauces and dips are added to the calamari. However, make no mistake – some restaurants fry the calamari even though they give you an option for grilling it.

Some restaurants will still fry the calamari in oil but omit the crumbs or batter. This way, you are still getting fried calamari, but it looks grilled. However, this calamari is not grilled and has the same amount of saturated fats as regular fried calamari.

Therefore, if you want to make real grilled calamari, you must start by buying high-quality calamari. You can find frozen calamari in most grocery stores. In this case, don’t buy calamari with freezer burn as this calamari has been frozen for too long. You can spot calamari with freezer burn by looking at the condition of the calamari.

If there are dry spots on the calamari or excess ice crystals, the calamari has freezer burn, and it’s best not to buy it. The best and healthiest calamari is, of course, fresh calamari. You can find fresh calamari at a fishmonger or fish market.

High-quality fresh calamari will look plump and juicy. If the skin is still on the calamari, the skin should be brength with clear pigmentation. The calamari should also have a fresh ocean smell. Calamari that looks dry or dull is likely not as fresh and shouldn’t be bought.

Ask the fishmonger to clean the calamari or clean it yourself before cooking it. You can separate the heads from the tentacles for grilling and cut the heads into strips or rings or leave them whole for stuffing.

Don’t overcook the calamari. Grilled calamari should only cook for about 4 minutes to ensure the calamari is still juicy and firm. Overcooked calamari becomes tough and leathery. Next time you eat calamari, try the healthier grilled option. It tastes delicious and is better for your health.


Grilled calamari is healthier than other types of cooked calamari. It is high in protein, selenium, and omega-3s. Grilled calamari is also a nutrient-dense protein option and is delicious in salads, pasta, and wraps.

You can safely consume grilled calamari two or three times a week as calamari has lower mercury levels than many other kinds of seafood. However, calamari is high in cholesterol and sodium, so moderation is key when eating grilled calamari.