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What In The World Is The New Zealand Green-lipped Mussel?

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What in the world is a Green-lipped Mussel? This little shellfish with the funny name has been enjoyed for centuries as a traditional food of the New Zealand coast dwelling Maori people. Cooked in earth ovens, dried and preserved, or simply eaten raw, Green-lipped Mussels are a centuries-old, nutritious delicacy.

But today we know its benefits reach far beyond the historical menu.

Found only in the clean coastal waters of New Zealand, the Green-lipped Mussel hit the radar of NASA scientists in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s during their search for natural cancer-fighting treatments. Researchers conducted a comprehensive search of marine organisms in an attempt to isolate possible natural drugs. While they found no discernible anti-cancer results from the Green-lipped Mussel, the patients who were also suffering from joint pain reported decreased pain and joint stiffness, along with increased mobility. Raw Green-lipped Mussels appeared to have impressive anti-inflammatory properties.

The results were groundbreaking, and prompted further study into the possible benefits of the Green-lipped Mussel. Over the next forty years, scientists identified many of the nutrients responsible for this anti-inflammatory effect and confirmed their benefits for joint health - for people, and even for their pets.

New Zealand Green-lipped Mussels (Perna canaliculus) are different from another species of green-lipped mussels found in many parts of Asia (Perna viridis). The composition of the two species is the main distinction: New Zealand Green-lipped mussels are exposed to more sunlight, which makes them a richer source of nutrients and enzymes when compared to Perna viridis.

The unique nutrient content of New Zealand Green-lipped Mussels includes a special type of omega-3 essential fatty acids not readily found in other marine life. Because of this type of high omega-3 content, New Zealand Green-lipped Mussels have been referred to, nutritionally, as one of the most comprehensive whole foods known to man. Ongoing research has demonstrated that the mussel is a safe and nutritional product able to reduce pain and inflammation, as well as help articular cartilage regenerate. This, in turn, enables greater mobility and tolerance to exercise.

While Green-lipped Mussels grow wild all over New Zealand, they need to be farmed if they are to be used commercially without harming the environment. Farmed Mussels are grown in New Zealand’s shallow coastal waters on hanging ropes which mimic their natural environment. Both the farms and the Mussels themselves are carefully monitored and strictly controlled: New Zealand Mussel farms use no feeds, fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides at any time. (via HealthPost New Zealand).

Green-lipped Mussels are considered to be one of the top 2 ecologically sound types of seafood worldwide - something which may contribute to their beneficial health capabilities. According to, “Mussels farmed on the sea floor as well as in suspended systems worldwide [including Green-lipped Mussels of New Zealand] are a ‘Best Choice’ because of the minimal impact to surrounding ecosystems or cumulative ecosystem impacts.”

But, if you want the therapeutic benefits of Green-lipped Mussels, you need to know not only where they are sourced, but also how they are harvested and processed. Remember: many of the valuable nutrients in Green-lipped Mussels are only present when the Mussels are raw. Cold extraction (mechanically removing the mussel meat and then drying it in tightly controlled conditions) preserves the nutritional benefits of the Mussel, but is a complex and expensive process. Not all manufacturers use this more costly process, so it is important for you to ensure that the manufacturer of your New Zealand Green-lipped Mussel supplement has used cold extraction to create a truly therapeutic extract.

All of our products at New Zealand’s Best have been sourced, harvested, and processed to deliver the highest quality Green-lipped Mussel nutrients in the most natural form. Click here to see our products available for people and pets.

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