Eating shrimp as part of a balanced diet is not only safe but can offer a person several key nutrients.
Doctors previously recommended against eating shrimp as part of a heart-healthy diet, citing the high levels of cholesterol.
However, after years of research and better understanding of what contributes to heart disease and higher cholesterol, scientists now consider eating shrimp to be an excellent addition to a well-rounded diet.
Is shrimp high in cholesterol?
One serving of shrimp contains 189 milligrams of cholesterol, which translates to roughly 60 percent of the total recommended amount of cholesterol per day.
This high level of cholesterol was the reason why doctors used to believe that shrimp was bad for heart health.
It was thought that shrimp would increase levels of LDL, or "bad cholesterol" in people, but it is now known that is not the case.
Shrimp can actually increase the levels of HDL, or "good cholesterol" thereby supporting heart health.
Are they safe to eat for people with high cholesterol? Shrimp are now generally considered safe for people with high cholesterol to eat. They contain a number of useful nutrients.
Despite the higher cholesterol levels, shrimp contain minimal saturated fat and no trans fat. Both trans and saturated fat are considered factors to increasing bad cholesterol.
As part of a balanced diet, shrimp can be a good addition. People on a strict diet set by a doctor or dietitian should ask their provider before including shrimp.
Things to consider when eating shrimp: What is more damaging to cholesterol and a heart-healthy diet is not the shrimp so much as the way it is prepared.
Here are some general tips and suggestions for preparing shrimp to be as heart-healthy and low in cholesterol as possible:
bake, boil, grill, or cook with little to no oil
season with spices, garlic, and herbs
add lemon juice
fry, sauté in butter or oil
serve in a creamy or buttery sauce
add unnecessary salt when cooking and eating
serve with over-processed carbohydrates such as white pasta
Check the bag, box, or with the seafood department as to where the shrimp were caught or raised. Shrimp from farms in other countries often have higher levels of pollutants because of the unregulated farming practices.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell whether or not the shrimp being sold comes from a safe farming practice or even if it was caught in the wild. Both farmed and wild-caught shrimp run a risk of containing pollutants, so look for the labels, "sustainably farmed" or "MSC-certified" that indicate better choices.
One last consideration for consuming shrimp is that it is a known allergen to some people. Shrimp are shellfish, so people allergic to shellfish should avoid eating them.
Nutritional information for shrimp: Shrimp, like most seafood, offers a variety of nutrients that are recommended in any diet.
Shrimp are naturally low in calories, offering less than 100 calories per serving. Additionally, shrimp are low in fat and high in protein.
How do they compare with other forms of seafood? Seafood is getting a lot of praise lately from doctors and dietitians who recommend adding seafood regularly to a balanced diet. Shrimp, like a lot of shellfish and other food sources found in the sea, are high in cholesterol. This does not mean that they are necessarily dangerous for people to consume regularly, however.
Though shrimp is high in cholesterol, it is still considered a good choice for anyone, even those concerned about their heart health.
People on strict diets should talk with their doctor before adding shrimp into their diets.
All people should consider the potential risks of purchasing farm-raised shrimp that may contain more pollutants than fresh-caught shrimp.
In moderation, shrimp consumption for the average person can add many nutrients essential to the human body.