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Are Shrimps Healthy for You?

Shrimps are ten-legged crustaceans found in fresh and salt waters across the world, and it is one of the most commonly consumed types of shellfish. Their delicious, soft-to firm-textured tail meat is the most sought-after seafood in the modern-day culinary world. Asian cuisines use wet shrimp as a seasoning and as a primary ingredient for soups, while fried shrimp has its base in North America. In Europe, too, shrimp is quite prominent in many seafood recipes like the Spanish paella de marisco, Italian cacciucco, Portuguese caldeirada, and many others.

In addition to its popularity, the health benefits of this delicacy are also abundant. 

Nutrition Properties of Shrimp

According to USDA, a 100-gram serving of raw shrimp contains the following nutrients:

Calories: 85 kcalProtein: 20.1 gFats: 0.51 gCarbohydrate: 0 gCholesterol: 161

Vitamins and Minerals

Calcium: 64 mgMagnesium: 35 mgPhosphorus: 214 mgPotassium: 264 mgSodium: 119 mgZinc: 1.34 mg

Shrimp has fewer calories but offers about 20.1 grams of protein per serving. It also contains all the essential amino acids required by the body. It is naturally carb-free, and being non-plant-based, it has zero fibre. Shrimp contains less than 1 gram of fat per serving, most of which comes from omega -3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats.

It is a heart-healthy ingredient to boost your protein intake without consuming extra saturated fats. Shrimp has a higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids than lobster. The omega-3 fatty acids help reduce blood pressure and the maintenance of heart rhythm.

Shrimp is also one of the best food sources of iodine which is necessary for proper thyroid function and brain development during pregnancy.

This shellfish is an exceptionally rich source of astaxanthin, the red pigment which provides shrimp with its displayed colour. It also contains other valuable nutrients like vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, choline and selenium.

The HealthifyMe Note

Shrimp has a very nutritional profile, is naturally calorie-free, carb-free, sugar-free, and provides a high amount of protein, healthy fats, and various vitamins and minerals. Additionally, it also contains iodine, which is essential for brain development. However, cooking methods and preparation can affect the nutritional content.

For example, shrimp breaded with flour and breadcrumbs will be higher in carbs. Similarly, cooking shrimp in butter or oil will raise the total fat content of the meal.

Health Benefits of Shrimp

Loaded with so many nutrients and minerals, shrimp provides many health benefits.

Weight-Loss Maintenance

Anybody trying to lose weight or keep it off knows the importance of calorie deficit. Luckily, low-calorie and high-protein foods, like shrimp, maybe what you were looking for. 

Study shows that protein is a satiating nutrient because it digests slowly and helps a person stay full longer after a meal. Therefore, following a meal plan higher in protein and lower in carbs enhances satiety and naturally limits food consumption. As a result, it helps lose weight and prevents regaining the lost weight.

Supports a Healthy Pregnancy

According to reports, unlike other seafood, shrimp is naturally low in mercury and is considered lower than the detection level (mean mercury level of 0.01 parts per million or less in a serving). That makes it a safer alternative for pregnant women seeking the benefits of seafood. 

Shrimp offers a wide range of healthy nutrients that are essential during pregnancy, including iron, vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, choline, and protein. A 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans study recommends that pregnant women eat at least 8 to 12 ounces (230 – 340 grams) weekly.

Protects Against Heart Disease

Although shrimp contains cholesterol, it has almost no saturated fat, which is known to raise the risk of heart diseases. In fact, according to a study, shrimp is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may lower LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing HDL (or “good”) cholesterol.

As a result, it can potentially reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 5.8%. In addition, shrimp is also high in choline, lowering homocysteine levels, a risk factor for heart disease.

Regulates Mood and Promotes Brain Health

Shrimp contains tryptophan, which stimulates the mood-boosting hormone serotonin. Research also shows that choline from foods like shrimp also proves beneficial in improving cognitive function. In addition, the remarkable combination of omega-3 fatty acids, astaxanthin, and vitamin B12 may benefit brain function, keeping it alert and attentive and warding off Alzheimer’s disease.

Improves Bone Strength

Shrimp has a variety of nutrients that aid bone health. Apart from being a good source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium, it is also rich in protein.

According to studies, protein intake can cause a considerable decrease in bone fractures. Therefore, including a lean source of protein, such as shrimp, may be particularly effective for preventing osteoporosis in older persons.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Free radicals are unstable particles in the body that may cause cell damage and inflammation. According to research, chronic inflammation may contribute to premature ageing and ailments like heart disease, certain cancers, dementia, and diabetes.

Eating shrimp also aids in the reduction of inflammation, as antioxidants such as astaxanthin present in shrimp may help the body fight free radicals.

Skin Protection

The ultraviolet rays from the sun produce free radicals that can cause premature skin ageing. Along with sunscreen and other skin-protecting precautions, the antioxidant astaxanthin in shrimp can reduce skin wrinkles and improve skin elasticity by offering adequate moisture, as per research. Prevention from skin damage ultimately wards off the risk of skin cancer.

Healthy Ways to Serve Shrimp

As one of the characters, Bubba, from the movie ‘Forest Gump’ famously said: “You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it…” The list goes on and on.

Shrimps are insanely versatile. However, any health benefits of choosing shrimp quickly sizzle away if you prepare it in a way that adds saturated fat, sodium and calories. A 60-calorie serving of shrimp may soon exceed the 160 calories in 50 grams of steak, with unwise cooking methods and unnecessary additives.

There are plenty of healthy ways to cook shrimp—boiled, steamed, grilled, broiled, baked, sauteed or stir-fried with liquid vegetable oil (and a heaping accompaniment of vegetables). 

5 Must-Try Delicious and Healthy Shrimp Recipes

Note: 1 Cup = 128 g

Shrimp Avocado Salad

A salad is a healthy lunch option. Adding shrimp to a salad may improve its protein content, resulting in a meal that keeps you full for a longer time. However, do not use salad dressing in excess. Instead of creamy, high-calorie dressings, go for vinaigrettes.

Serves: 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

Raw shrimp (peeled and deveined tail-on): 450 gCayenne Pepper: 1 tspBaby Spinach: 4-6 cupsCherry Tomatoes (halved): 1 cupSmall Red Onion (sliced): 1Large Avocado (sliced): 1Hard-boiled eggs (sliced): 4Olive Oil: 1 tbspCorn Grilled (fresh or frozen): ½ cupSea salt and pepper: to tasteCrumbled blue cheese: Just a drizzleChopped Chives: 2 tbsp

Ingredients for Dressing

Lemon juiced: 1Extra virgin olive oil: 1½ tbspDijon Mustard: 1 tbspHoney: 1 tbspSalt and black pepper powder: to taste

Method of Preparation 

Take a large pan and heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.Season shrimp with salt and cayenne pepper. Cook it for approximately 1-2 minutes on each side until it turns pink and opaque.In a large salad bowl, put baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, red onion, boiled eggs, corn, Avocado, and cooked shrimp.Take a mason jar and combine all dressing ingredients in it. To emulsify, aggressively shake the container.Drizzle the dressing all over the salad and garnish with blue cheese crumbles and chives. 

Nutritional Facts per Serving

Calories: 496 kcalProtein: 35 gCarbohydrates: 21 gFat: 31 gSaturated Fat: 6 gCholesterol: 478 mgSodium: 1137 mgFibre: 6 gSugar: 9 gVitamin A: 3695 IUVitamin C: 45.2 mgCalcium: 287 mg

Simple Shrimp Taco

If you go for whole wheat, low-calorie tortillas, your shrimp tacos can become a healthy choice for any meal. Add healthful ingredients like peppers, avocados, and lettuce to the tacos. Keep items like cheese and salsa to a minimum to avoid adding additional fat, salt, and calories.

Serves: 10 tacos

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cook time: 8 mins

Ingredients for Shrimp Taco

Large shrimp (peeled and deveined): 1 pound Taco Seasoning: 3 tbspWhole Wheat or Corn Tortillas: 10 Olive Oil Spray: 1 tbspShredded Cabbage: 1 cup Cilantro (chopped): 1/4 cup Avocado (sliced thin): 1 no.Red onion (thin sliced): 1/2 Lemon Juice: 1 

Ingredients for Shrimp Taco Sauce

Greek Yoghurt: ¼ cup Adobo Sauce made from Chipotle Peppers: ½ tspLemon Zest and Juice: 1 no.Cumin: ½ tspChilli Powder: ½ tspSalt and pepper: to taste

Method of Preparation 

Take a blender or a food processor and pulse the Shrimp Taco Sauce ingredients until smooth. Set it aside to marinate until you work on the shrimp.Toss the shrimp with the taco seasoning in a large bowl until evenly covered.Take a big pan and heat it over medium-high heat. Spray olive oil and add the shrimp.Cook the shrimp for 3-4 minutes, turning once, or until it appears opaque and fully cooked. Add lemon juice, toss it thoroughly and remove the pan from heat.Fill each tortilla with cabbage, cilantro, an avocado slice, and a few shrimp. Then, top it with Shrimp Taco Sauce and other toppings of your choice.

Nutritional Facts per Serving

Calories – 179 kcalProtein: 17.7 gCarbohydrates: 18.1 gFat: 4.7 gSaturated Fat: 0.9 gCholesterol: 65 mgSodium: 163 mgCalcium: 8 mgSugar: 3.8 gFibre: 0.3 gPotassium: 270 mgIron: 1 mg 

Fiery Indian Shrimp

Serves: 4 servings

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

Raw jumbo or extra-large shrimp (peeled and deveined): 450 gramsGin or Water: 2 tbspGinger (grated and peeled): 1 tbspGarlic (minced): 1 tbspCumin Powder: 1 tspTurmeric Powder: ¼ tspCinnamon Powder: ½ tspBlack Pepper: 1 tspGround Cloves: ¼ tspCayenne Pepper: 1 tspLight Brown Sugar: 1 ½ tspCanola Oil (divided): 2 tbspSea Salt: 1/8 tspLemon Juice (divided): 1 ½ tbspBaby Lettuce Mix: 400 g

Method of Preparation

Dry the shrimp by patting it using paper towels. Then, place them on a platter or shallow dish.In a large mixing bowl, combine the gin, ginger, garlic, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, cayenne and sugar.Coat the spice paste all over the shrimp. Leave it for 30 minutes at room temperature.Preheat a big cast-iron or carbon steel pan over high heat. Swirl in 2 tablespoons of oil to coat. As it starts to shimmer, lay half of the shrimp in one layer.Cook, without stirring, for approximately 2 minutes, or until shrimp curls and there is some rich brown colour underneath.Turn it to the other side and cook, often stirring, for 1-2 minutes, or until seasonings are golden brown and cooked through.Scrape out the spice particles from the pan and place the shrimp on a platter.Quickly wash the pan before repeating the cooking procedure with the remaining shrimp and two tablespoons of oil.Season the shrimp with one tablespoon of lemon juice and salt.Use a mixing bowl to combine the lettuce mix, the remaining ½ teaspoons lemon juice and the remaining two tablespoons of oil. Place on a serving plate. Serve with the shrimp on top.

Nutritional Facts per Serving

Calories: 181 kcalProtein: 16 gCarbohydrate: 6 gSaturated fat: 1 gUnsaturated fat: 7 gFibre: 1 gSugar: 2 gSodium: 253 mgCalcium: 9% of Dietary ValuePotassium: 5% Dietary Value

The HealthifyMe Note

Let it defrost in the fridge or cold water if you’ve purchased frozen shrimp. Then, depending on the recipe, you can devein the shrimp and peel off the shell before cooking. To cook shrimp safely, heat it at an internal temperature of 145°F until the flesh becomes pink and opaque.

Buying and Storing Shrimp

Types and Sizes

Shrimp come in a variety of types and sizes. You can find wild white shrimp, rock shrimp, pink shrimp, brown shrimp, royal crimson, or tiger shrimp. They are available as fresh or frozen, boiled or smoked, shelled or unshelled, dried or canned, and are sold whole or with their heads removed.

Shrimps are often labelled as small, medium, large, extra-large, or jumbo. The larger the shrimp, the more expensive it is. So, pick out the kind of shrimp according to your recipe.

Safe Purchase

Unless you live on the water, shrimp at your local grocery is defrosted. Shrimp begin to deteriorate as soon as they die. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends purchasing fresh shrimp frozen, refrigerated or displayed on a thick, non-melting bed of ice. Always make sure to check the packaging for any tears or damage. Avoid packages with visible ice crystals since they may have been thawed and refrozen.

The former the shrimp, the fresher it is. Look for shrimp that are translucent and shiny. Avoid mushy shrimps and have a fishy odour; it shouldn’t smell like ammonia but like the ocean. Also, it’s better to go for vein-in, shell-on shrimp. The less the shrimp goes through handling, the fresher it’s likely.

Safe Storage at Home

After bringing the shrimp home, use it immediately or pack it into a container covered with wax paper or in an unsealed plastic bag and refrigerate it in the fridge. You can only keep shrimp in the refrigerator for 1-2 days and in the freezer for about one month.

Cautions and Concerns Surrounding Shrimp

Though shrimp has many health benefits, one must be aware of its adverse effects and serious concerns regarding the consumption of shrimp.

Allergies

Shellfish, including shrimp, are one of the top reasons for allergies amongst people. Some symptoms include vomiting, stomach cramps, breathing difficulty, nasal congestion, throat tightness, skin reactions, hives and dizziness. If you suspect an allergy to shellfish, visit an allergist immediately for a formal diagnosis and management plan. 

High Cholesterol Content

For a long time, one potential concern around shrimp has been its high cholesterol content and associated fear of cardiovascular disease risk. A 100-gram serving of shrimp contains 189 mg of cholesterol.

Experts traditionally believed that consuming food with high cholesterol was harmful to the heart. However, modern research indicates that the saturated fat in your food increases the cholesterol levels in your body, not the dietary cholesterol. 

According to a study, shrimp are low in total fat and contain no saturated fat. So a shrimp-heavy diet may be healthier than, for example, an egg-based diet. However, if one is still concerned about cholesterol intake, moderation is the key.

Toxins in Farm-Raised Shrimps

Farmed shrimp accounts for 55% of total shrimp production worldwide. Since shrimps are cultivated in large numbers in cramped-up ecosystems and have weak immunity, the risk of diseases is very high.

As a result, farms use chemicals, particularly antibiotics, to prevent and control diseases. Antibiotics in shrimp have not been proven to have serious health consequences. However, according to studies, it may lead to antibiotic resistance, which can cause outbreaks of infections and diseases that do not respond to antibiotic treatment.

Conclusion

Shrimp can be the magic your body is looking for, depending on how you make it. It can be a low-calorie, high protein, antioxidant-rich snack that can work wonders for your health. As new research has clarified that it is the saturated fats that cause the risk of cardiovascular diseases, you can put any fears concerning the high dietary cholesterol in shrimp to rest.

The Omega-3 present in shrimp will improve your heart health. There are some genuine concerns as to the risks posed by farm-raised and chemically treated shrimps. But let’s be honest, it is the case with everything we consume in today’s world. The key is to ensure that it is rightly sourced and prepared. So, try out the healthy recipes and unlock the magical health benefits of shrimp.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is the benefit of eating shrimp?

A. Shrimp offers a wide array of benefits. It is rich in several minerals and nutrients, which are suitable for the heart, brain and bones—the low calorie and high protein content help reduce weight while maintaining a lean body mass. In addition, the antioxidant astaxanthin in shrimp has magical anti-inflammatory properties and works wonders for the skin.

Q. Is it okay to eat shrimp every day?

A. Doctors now consider it safe for most people to consume shrimp daily, irrespective of their cholesterol levels. In moderation, shrimp consumption can provide many essential nutrients. However, consuming shrimp or other seafood is recommended only twice a week. It is because daily shrimp consumption can not only have health issues but can also pose environmental concerns. Simply put, there is probably not enough fish in the sea for everyone to eat seafood all the time.

Q. Is shrimp healthier than chicken?

A. While both chicken and shrimp are excellent sources of protein and contribute to your nutritional profile, the health benefits of shrimp are somewhat more significant than those of chicken, especially when we consider the rich omega-3 fatty acids in shrimp. In addition, shrimp contains 10.9 times less saturated fat than chicken. So, if you’re looking for an animal protein that’s low in cholesterol, high in omega-3s and is both healthy and delicious, then shrimp is the way to go.

Q. Why should you not eat shrimp?

A. Anybody who is allergic to shellfish should not eat shrimp. Also, while there is no evidence of increased cardiovascular diseases, people aiming at a low cholesterol intake should refrain from shrimp consumption. Moreover, imported farmed shrimp may contain banned chemicals and antibiotics and mainly suffer from hygiene issues.

Q. Is frozen shrimp healthy?

A. The frozen pre-cooked shrimp is safe to eat if they come from a reputable source. However, according to a 2015 Consumer Reports research, 60% of frozen shrimp samples tested were contaminated with dangerous bacteria. Furthermore, the research found antibiotics in some of the farmed frozen shrimp. In addition, raw seafood can potentially contain disease-causing bacteria like Salmonella, Vibrio, Listeria, and E. coli.

Q. Is shrimp good for your skin?

A. Yes, shrimp is good for your skin. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays produces free radicals that can accelerate skin ageing. Shrimp contains astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant that suppresses cell damage caused by these free radicals. It, therefore, dramatically reduces the signs of ageing in the skin by improving skin elasticity and moisture content.

Q. Is Shrimp Good for Weight Loss?

A. Yes, as long as one doesn’t cook it in lots of oil and consumes it only in moderate or recommended amounts. Shrimp has low calories, carbohydrates, and fat but is rich in protein and other essential nutrients, making it an ideal and healthy option for weight loss.

Q. How many shrimps should you eat?

A. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating at least 8 ounces (230 grams) of seafood each week for adults and 8 to 12 ounces (230 – 340 grams)for pregnant or breastfeeding women. For children, smaller amounts of seafood are recommended by the FDA depending on the age.

Q. Does shrimp have good protein?

A. Yes. It is mainly made up of protein and water only. For example, a 100-gram serving of shrimp contains 24 grams of protein, one of the highest for seafood.

Q. Do shrimp release toxins?

A. A range of chemicals, including antibiotics, are used in shrimp farming which increases the risk of cancer and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Moreover, shrimp may contain some amount of bioaccumulating toxins like mercury which causes a risk of temporary neurological effects.

Q. Is shrimp good for your digestive system?

A. Shrimp is good for the digestive system to some extent. One hundred grams of shrimp offers around 325-375 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids can play a vital role in promoting a healthy bowel function, and they can also work in lubricating the digestive tract and keep digestion flowing smoothly. However, shrimp isn’t really what one might call an omega-3 fatty acid food, as the amount of these acids is far more in other oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel.

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