Shrimp Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

shrimp nutrition facts and health benefits
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

If you love shrimp but have been worried about your cholesterol, you'll be delighted to hear the latest research. Scientists have dispelled old assumptions about the dangers of cholesterol from food. While cardiologists once advised patients to avoid shrimp (which is naturally high in cholesterol), times have changed. Now you can enjoy shrimp's numerous health benefits without so much hesitation.

Shrimp Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup of boiled or steamed shrimp (145 grams).

  • Calories: 132
  • Fat: 1.9g
  • Sodium: 503mg
  • Carbohydrates: 1.7g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 25.2g

Carbs

Shrimp is naturally very low in carbohydrates, with under 2 grams per cup. Because shrimp is an animal food (not a plant) it contains no fiber. Shrimp that's been cooked breaded with flour and breadcrumbs will be higher in carbohydrates.

Fats

Shrimp contain about 2 grams of fat per cup, however, they are almost devoid of the saturated fats associated with heart disease. Most of the fat in shrimp comes from beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats. Cooking shrimp in butter or oil, and frying breaded shrimp increases its overall fat content.

Protein

You'll get 25 grams of lean protein in 1 cup of shrimp. Shrimp contains all of the essential amino acids required by the body. It is a heart-healthy way to boost your protein intake without taking in extra saturated fats.

Vitamins and Minerals

Shrimp is a great source of phosphorus and vitamin B12. Shrimp also provides some calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, selenium, and choline.

Health Benefits

Shrimp is healthier than we used to think. Here are some of the health benefits you might stand to gain by ordering shrimp more often.

Promotes Heart Health

When prepared with minimal processing, shrimp is a whole food and lean source of protein. Shrimp is a good source of choline, which impacts homocysteine levels, an important marker for heart disease. Although shrimp contains cholesterol, it is nearly devoid of saturated fat. Newer research suggests that it's the saturated fat in food, not dietary cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease.

Supports a Healthy Pregnancy

Unlike most seafood, shrimp contains almost zero mercury, making it a safer choice for women looking to gain the health benefits of seafood during pregnancy. Furthermore, shrimp provides many key nutrients that are beneficial in pregnancy, like iron, B12, calcium, zinc, choline, and protein. Enjoy safely prepared shrimp as a nutritious choice while pregnant.

Helps Maintain Weight Loss

Arguably more difficult than losing weight is the process of trying to keep it off. Luckily, high protein foods, like shrimp, may help. Studies show that protein impacts multiple appetite hormone pathways, making it easier to avoid regaining weight that's been lost. Following a meal pattern that's higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates improves satiety and regulates food intake naturally.

May Benefit Brain Health

There is some evidence that choline from foods like shrimp is beneficial for cognitive function. Although the research is limited, choline is being considered in the treatment of dementia and neurological damage for stroke patients. In addition, krill oil has been shown to provide neuroprotective effects due to its astaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids, which are also present in shrimp.

Strengthens Bones

Shrimp offers several nutrients involved in bone health. Along with providing some calcium, magnesium, and selenium, shrimp is above all, an excellent source of protein. Large prospective studies show significant reductions in bone fractures related to protein intake. Including a lean source of protein, from foods like shrimp, could be especially beneficial for osteoporosis prevention in older adults.

Allergies

Shellfish allergies are common and typically include a reaction to shrimp, lobster, and crab. Most people with shellfish allergies can still eat fish and mollusks (like scallops and mussels). Vomiting, stomach cramps, difficulty breathing, throat tightness, hives, and dizziness are possible symptoms of a shellfish allergy.

If you suspect an allergy to shellfish, speak to an allergist for a formal diagnosis and management plan. Managing a shellfish allergy means learning how to read food labels and avoid cross-contamination. Your doctor may also prescribe an epi-pen for severe allergic reactions.

Adverse Effects

If you are sensitive to sulfites, it's worth noting that some shrimp varieties are sprayed with sulfites to prevent a natural discoloration reaction from occurring on the shell. The amount of sulfite added is minimal and not usually enough to cause a reaction. Manufacturers are required to specify sulfite use on the label.

Varieties

Shrimp is either farm-raised or wild-caught. Some environmental advocates believe that farm-raised shrimp are nutritionally inferior and harmful to the natural world.

For consciously-raised shrimp you can opt for Pink Shrimp wild-caught in Oregon, Black Tiger Shrimp imported from Ca Mau, Vietnam, or farmed using Selva Shrimp criteria, freshwater prawns farmed in the United States, Pacific or West-Coast White Shrimp U.S. farmed in recirculating systems or inland ponds, or Canadian-specific wild-caught Spot Prawns. As with most foods, knowing the origin of your shrimp can help you gauge its quality.

Shrimp can be purchased raw or cooked, fresh or frozen, prepared, smoked, pickled, dried, or canned. Commercially "breaded shrimp" is required to contain 50% shrimp, and "lightly breaded shrimp" must contain 65% shrimp.

Shrimp varies in size from small to jumbo, however, these commercial terms are not defined by any official regulations. Shrimp is described as count per pound. Large shrimp may include 10–20 per pound, whereas small shrimp can range from 100–500 per pound. The smallest shrimp varieties are cold-water, rather than warm-water species.

Storage and Food Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that you only buy fresh shrimp when they are frozen, refrigerated or displayed on a thick bed of ice that is not melting. Look for shrimp that are translucent and shiny with little to no odor.

If you buy frozen shrimp, make sure the package is not torn or damaged. Avoid packages with visible ice crystals as they may have been thawed and refrozen.

When you bring shrimp home, refrigerate immediately and use or freeze within 2 days. Thaw frozen shrimp in the refrigerator or by immersing in cold water.

To safely cook shrimp, be sure that you heat to an internal temperature of 145 degrees. The flesh should become pearly and opaque.

How to Prepare

Consider adding chilled, cooked shrimp for a boost of protein and flavor in salads. You can also grill shrimp on a skewer. Drizzle lemon and spices over grilled shrimp for flavor. Spicy herbs and seasonings (like garlic or red pepper) give shrimp an extra kick.

Breading shrimp, deep frying it, or cooking it in dishes with creamy sauces can diminish some of the nutritional benefits you stand to gain from this lean seafood. Instead, choose healthier cooking methods to get the most out of your shrimp consumption.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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