Since you may be visiting coastal holiday destinations this summer and benefiting from local fare, one item on the menu might be local seafood such as shrimp. Shrimp can be served cold in its “cocktail” version alongside tomato sauce, cooked and baked on a seafood platter, such as the Spanish-inspired paella shrimp, or in jambalaya. Although taste may be king if we travel and learn about the tastes, sights and sounds of new regions, being aware of what shrimp does and does not do for our health should also be on the table. Read about five surprising things that may happen to your body when you eat shrimp, and for more, don’t miss the surprising side effects of alcohol on your gut.
Shrimp provides a hefty dose of protein with about 19 grams of protein per three ounce serving. This equates to about 75% of total calories as protein, which fits well with a diet looking for more lean protein sources. Protein is largely known for its contributions to maintaining lean muscle, but protein also plays an important role in the growth and repair of cells and tissues of the body, regulating enzymes and hormones, and maintaining proper fluid balance.
An essential mineral that we don’t usually talk about much but is important in our diet is copper. Copper is involved in iron metabolism and the formation of connective tissue and neurotransmitters. Adult males and non-pregnant/lactating females should aim for 900 mcg per day of copper. Shrimp contains about 300 micrograms per three ounce serving.
Get more copper by enjoying shrimp in a shrimp boil with potatoes (potatoes contain about 675 micrograms of copper per medium potato) or shrimp in a pasta dish with cashew sauce (cashes have about 630 micrograms per medium). serving ounce).
Although we know that saturated and trans fats have a more disappointing effect on blood cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol, excess cholesterol intake (which is emphasized here) likely contributes to heart disease and stroke risk. There is no longer a consistent recommendation regarding dietary cholesterol, but most nutritionists suggest keeping intakes below 300 milligrams per day. A three-ounce serving of regular shrimp comes in at about 140 milligrams of cholesterol (and zero grams of saturated fat). If you enjoy shrimp, you should at least keep saturated fat to a minimum by avoiding butter sauces, coconut (sliced or milk), and breadcrumbs.
Most commercially available seafood, such as shrimp, is processed with ingredients rich in sodium to act as a preservative. This also includes “regular” shrimp that is not breaded or marinated. Salt solutions preserve the integrity and quality of the element, but this is detrimental to its nutritional profile.
Each product is created differently, so be sure to flip the packaging to review the Nutrition Facts panel or ask at the grocery store’s seafood counter about the sodium content. Bonus points if you can find a shrimp product at or below 140 milligrams of sodium per serving (this qualifies as low in sodium).
Seafood is often seen as the gold standard way to consume omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (although walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are on the menu too!), but unfortunately, shrimp don’t make the cut.
The highest content of omega-3 fats is seen in fish such as herring, sardines, and Atlantic salmon, which provide between 1.19 and 1.83 grams of total omega-3s per three cooked ounces. On the other hand, shrimp provides only about 0.24 grams of total omega-3s per three cooked ounces. The recommendation for adequate intake (AI) for the omega-3 fat ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is 1.6 grams per day for adult men and 1.1 grams per day for adult women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding.
The point we are making here is not to reduce shrimp intake, but you should be aware that if you are eating seafood for its omega-3 benefits, you should still rely on fatty fish more than shrimp.
Molly Hembrey, MS, RD, LD
Molly Hembrey, MS, RD, LD, is a nationally registered dietitian. Read more