Love flakey batter-fried shrimp or a decadent shrimp cocktail? No need to skimp on shrimp! The popular shellfish is swimming with nutrients.
Shrimp is a low calorie and nutrient-dense food that contains a hefty serving of protein, vitamin B12, and essential minerals like selenium, zinc, and iodine. Shellfish allergies aside, this crustacean is a healthy addition to most peeps’ plates.
Here’s the scoop on shrimp nutrition and the many benefits of eating this sea starlet.
Since shrimp come in a wide range of sizes and types, their nutrition content varies. Generally, shrimp don’t contain many calories or carbs, but it is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. #Winning
On average, here’s what you’ll get in a 3.5-ounce (100 gram) serving of steamed or boiled shrimp:
- Calories: 91
- Protein: 17.4 grams (g)
- Fat: 1.3 g
- Carbs: 1.16 g
- Selenium: 69% of the recommended daily value (DV)
- Vitamin B12: 35% of DV
- Phosphorus: 17% of the DV
- Zinc: 11% of the DV
- Magnesium: 6% of the DV
Shrimp is an especially stellar source of selenium. Your body needs this mineral for proper thyroid function, fertility, and infection and inflammation prevention.
This little crustacean also offers small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and iodine. Since your body doesn’t need much of these nutrients to thrive, even a shrimp-sized bit goes a long way.
Shrimp can offer several health benefits for anyone *not* allergic to shellfish.
Oodles of antioxidants
While shrimp salad won’t cure cancer, the antioxidants in shrimp may help your body ward off oxidative stress.
In general, antioxidants can support your body’s ongoing fight against health probs like:
- inflammatory conditions like arthritis
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- some cancers
- premature aging
Heyo, heart health
If you leave behind bang-bang shrimp and shrimp cocktails, these crustaceans become a mean, lean source of protein. And that’s good news for your ticker.
The Mediterranean Diet, which emphasizes lean protein (like shrimp!) over fatty protein (like red meat!), has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Shrimp also contains choline, which might ward off heart problems by reducing blood pressure.
Anyone working to lose weight knows the importance of creating a calorie deficit. Shrimp to the rescue!
Shrimp are low cal and stuffed with protein, which is known to boost feelings of fullness. So, a cup o’ shrimp will satisfy you more than, say, a tossed salad — but you’ll still keep your calorie count low.
High protein, low carb eats like shrimp help folks lose weight (if that’s your goal) without feeling deprived.
Shrimp contains protein, magnesium, and selenium, which all play a part in bone health.
More studies are needed, but research suggests that higher protein intake = better bone density.
To be clear, you can’t just shrimp-fest your way out of brittle bones. Strong, healthy bones require a well-balanced diet and regular movement.
Safe seafood for pregnant peeps
Unlike some seafood, shrimp contains very low levels of mercury. So, if you’re pregnant, you should be able to safely add shrimp to the weekly menu.
Research also suggests that pregnant peeps who consume more omega-3s are less likely to give birth prematurely. And while shrimp won’t supply you with heaps of omega-3s, it’s not a bad start.
Remember the choline in shrimp? Well, it’s essential for memory and brain function.
Beyond that, astaxanthin, one of the antioxidants in shrimp, may help protect against Alzheimer’s and other neurocognitive declines.
Shrimp should be safe for most people to eat. But there are a few potential risks. 👇
Shellfish allergies affect about 2 percent of the U.S. population. And shrimp = public enemy No. 1 for folks with shellfish allergies.
An allergic reaction might trigger:
- mouth tingling
- stomach cramps
- lightheadedness or dizziness
- throat constriction (Call 911! 🚨)
Think you might be allergic to shellfish? Don’t. eat. shrimp. And talk with your doc about getting an EpiPen.
In a 2011 report, researchers wrote, “Shellfish poisoning frequently masquerades as an allergic reaction.” In other words, sometimes folks assume they’re allergic because they’ve eaten contaminated shrimp.
You can reduce the risk of shellfish poisoning by eating shrimp that’s been properly refrigerated or frozen ASAP after being caught. Oh, and if it smells funky, don’t eat it!
Iodine and mercury overload
Shrimp contains iodine. Your thyroid needs *some* iodine to function, but ingesting too much can dial up your risk for conditions like hypothyroidism.
You probably know that seafood contains mercury. In the world of sea critters, shrimp has the third-lowest mercury concentration (after scallops and clams). So, while mercury overload is *super* unlikely, it’s a risk to keep in mind.
Shrimp might not be your friend if you have gout or kidney probs. That’s because eating shrimp can raise your uric acid levels — a common trigger for gout attacks.
A shrimp is not just a shrimp. It could be a wild white shrimp, a rock shrimp, a northern pink shrimp… Since shrimp come in many types and sizes, choose your shrimp variety according to your recipe.
But how do you make sure you’re getting the best shrimp? Here are a few tips on how to safely choose and store shrimp:
- Buy ’em from the freezer case. Unless you live on the water, your “fresh” grocery store shrimp are just defrosted. Shrimp start deteriorating as soon as they die, so go for frozen (and keep them frozen until you’re ready to cook).
- Pay attention to smell and texture. Firm shrimp = fresh shrimp. Avoid mushy shrimp with a fishy stench and shrimp with ice crystals (this could mean it’s already been thawed prior to freezing). Shrimp should also smell like the ocean, not like ammonia.
- Go for vein-in, shell-on shrimp. The less the shrimp has been handled, the fresher it’s likely to be.
- Think sustainable. It’s not as simple as wild-caught versus farm-caught. Check with an organization like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch the find the healthiest shrimp for you, the planet, and others.
- Keep shrimp cold while storing. Store shrimp packed into a container in the freezer, on ice, covered with wax paper in the fridge, or in an unsealed plastic bag in the coldest part of the fridge. Shrimp will only keep in the fridge for about 2 days.
As shrimp stan Bubba would say, “You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it.” There are endless ways to prepare shrimp.
If you’ve purchased frozen shrimp, let it defrost in the fridge or in cold water. Depending on the recipe, you may also want to devein the shrimp and peel off the shell before cooking.
FYI that dark line running along the shrimp’s length isn’t actually a vein — it’s the critter’s digestive tract. While eating it won’t hurt you, many folks do remove it. To devein shrimp:
- Use a paring knife to create a slit along the shrimp’s back.
- Gently pry the line up with the knife tip.
- Tug it out whole.
Ready to get cooking? If you need some #shrimpspo, try these recipes:
Depending on how you prepare it, shrimp can be a healthy low calorie, high protein snack. Shrimp also contains antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals like selenium, magnesium, and iodine.
Most folks — including pregnant people — can safely enjoy shrimp’s nutritional bounty. But anyone with a shellfish allergy must steer clear of shrimp. Shrimp might also not be a healthy choice for people living with gout.
To get the most health benefits from shrimp, buy it frozen (or fresh from the water!). Look for firm, plump shrimp with a pleasantly salty smell. Keep your meal light and well-balanced by steaming or boiling the shrimp instead of battering and frying it. Bon appetit!