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Shrimp: Health Benefits, How To Cook, And Side Effects

Shrimps are every seafood lover’s delight. Each continent has its own varieties of shrimps, and they are internationally traded. They are low in calories and have no carbs, which makes them a preferred food for weight loss. Besides, shrimps are also rich in protein, selenium, vitamin B12, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant. Consuming this nutrient-dense seafood helps reduce the risk of heart disease, slow down premature aging, improve brain function, and better vision.

This article helps you understand the health benefits of shrimp, their nutritional profile, and how to add them to your diet. Keep reading.

What Are Shrimps?

Shrimp are decapod crustaceans (having 10 legs). Their two big compound eyes give them a panoramic view of the ocean. Their astaxanthin content (a potent antioxidant) is responsible for their pink and red color (1).

Contrary to popular belief, shrimps are different from prawns. They belong to different groups (2). They can be differentiated based on their:

  • Size: Shrimps are smaller than prawns.
  • Body: Shrimps have only one pair of legs while prawns have three pairs of legs.
  • Mode Of Reproduction: Shrimps carry fertilized eggs in their body while prawns release their eggs into the water.
  • Habitat: Shrimps are mostly marine while prawns live in freshwater.

Their nutritional compositions, however, are very similar. They are high in protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Hence, you can substitute one with the other in different recipes.
Shrimps are an integral part of any seafood diet. But what nutrients do they offer? Read to know their nutritional profile.

Nutritional Profile Of Shrimps

100grams of cooked shrimp contain (3):

Calories

99 kcal

Protein

24g

Carbohydrates

0.2g

Total lipids (Fat)

0.28g

Potassium

259 mg

Phosphorus

237 mg

Magnesium

39 mg

Sodium

2.12 mg

Zinc

1.64 mg

Cholesterol

189 mg

Shrimps are also a good source of iodine, selenium, and vitamins A, D, E, B1, B2, and B3. They also contain omega-3fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (4).

Shrimps have high cholesterol levels, though they are lower than that of an egg. Consuming a regular diet containing 300 grams of shrimps was found to decrease triglyceride (fat) levels by 13%. The findings conclude that moderate shrimp intake does not adversely affect the overall fat profile of the body. It also is found that the type of dietary fatty acid, and not the levels of dietary cholesterol, is the potent regulator of serum cholesterol levels (4).

Shrimps are highly beneficial due to the presence of astaxanthin, healthy fats, and minerals. We discuss their benefits in the next section.

Health Benefits Of Shrimps

1. Have Anti-Aging Properties

Exposure to the sun’s UV rays produces free radicals that may accelerate skin aging. Studies demonstrate that astaxanthin (a strong antioxidant present in shrimp) suppresses cell damage caused by these free radicals. Besides, astaxanthin also stimulates the body’s antioxidant defense mechanism (5). Shrimps also contain trehalose, a type of sugar that protects the skin and hair from UV damage (6). Taurine, a protein present in shrimp, also has anti-aging properties (7).

2. May Help Fight Inflammation

Chronic inflammation by oxidative stress can increase the risk of neurodegeneration, cancer, and skin damage. Astaxanthin, as stated, reduces oxidative stress and may help treat inflammatory skin disorders like psoriasis and atopic dermatitis (5). Besides, shrimps also contain glycosaminoglycan, a bioactive compound with anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces the influx of inflammatory cells to the injury site significantly (8). They also contain an anti-inflammatory peptide (a short chain of amino acids) called shrimp anti-lipopolysaccharide factor (SALF). It is a potential drug candidate for treating urethral, vaginal, cervical, and pelvic inflammatory diseases (9).

3. May Improve Gastrointestinal Health

Astaxanthin shows antimicrobial activity against H. pylori, a type of bacteria that causes stomach infections (10). The pathogen damages the stomach and intestinal tissue. In rats, oral administration of astaxanthin was also found to protect against ethanol-induced gastric lesions (injuries) (11).

4. May Enhance Brain Functioning

Numerous blood vessels run through the brain. These transport and consume oxygen for the brain to work. However, the blood vessels of the brain contain relatively fewer antioxidants and are prone to oxidative damage.

Evidence suggests that astaxanthin enhances the stability of the cells and mitochondrial membranes. It may also protect against oxidative stress-associated neurodegeneration, like Parkinson’s disease (12). A study also validates the use of astaxanthin as an adjuvant therapy against Alzheimer’s disease (13).

5. May Promote Heart Health

Astaxanthin, a carotenoid with antioxidant properties, may be useful in treating atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (thickening of arteries). It inhibits the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein and may help prevent plaque buildup in the arteries (14). Besides, shrimps are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help lower the heart disease risk significantly. Moreover, intake of EPA and DHA — both omega-3 fatty acids — was associated with 15% and 18% lower CVD mortality in men and women, respectively (15).

6. May Promote Weight Loss

Shrimps are low in calories and have no carbs. Their zinc content may also boost leptin levels in the body and help avoid overeating. Leptin is a hormone that regulates the storage and use of fat and energy throughout the body (16). Shrimps are also rich in iodine. Iodine, through its interaction with the thyroid gland, may help regulate body weight by playing an important role in the body’s metabolism (17).

7. May Protect Your Vision

AMD (age-related macular degeneration) is the leading cause of severe vision loss among those over 60 years old. Shrimp heparinoid has anti-angiogenic (preventing the formation of new blood vessels), anti-inflammatory, and anticoagulant (blood thinner) properties. It may help treat neovascular AMD and other angioproliferative (conditions involving rapid blood vessel growth) diseases (18).

You can add shrimp to your diet in many ways. We have rounded up a few delicious shrimp recipes for you to try at home. Take a look!

How To Add Shrimps To Your Diet?

1. Shrimp Scampi

What You Need

  • 500g shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 250g angel hair pasta
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (ground)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • Water, as needed

How To Prepare

  1. Boil salted water in a large pot. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Discard water.
  2. Melt butter in a pot over medium heat, and add shrimp and garlic. Stir continuously for 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add wine and pepper. Let it boil for 30 seconds while constantly stirring.
  4. Mix shrimp and pasta in a bowl. Garnish with cheese and parsley.

2. Garlic Shrimp

What You Need

  • 500g shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 1½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1½ tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon caper brine
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt, as needed
  • Water, as needed

How To Prepare

  1. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet until it begins to smoke. Spread the shrimp evenly in a single layer and cook for a minute without stirring.
  2. Add salt. Simmer for a minute until the shrimp turns pink.
  3. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook for a minute.
  4. Add lemon juice, caper brine, butter, and half of the parsley.
  5. Cook for about a minute or until the butter is melted and the sauce is thick.
  6. Add one teaspoon of water if the butter sauce turns too thick. Transfer shrimp to a bowl and continue cooking the sauce for 2 minutes. Add salt to taste.
  7. Add the pan sauce to the shrimp and drizzle the remaining parsley over it. Serve!

3. Cajun Shrimp

What You Need

  • 500g shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

How To Prepare

  1. Mix the paprika, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper in a sealable plastic bag.
  2. Toss shrimp in the bag and shake.
  3. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high flame
  4. Add in the mixture and gently stir shrimp for about 4 minutes until it is bright pink.

Unfortunately, this tasty treat is not for everyone. Shrimps may cause adverse effects in some.

Possible Side Effects

1. May Cause Allergic Reactions

Tropomyosin, the muscle protein of shrimp, is said to cause allergic reactions in many. Itching in the mouth and throat and swelling of lips are the most common symptoms (19).

Shellfish allergy affects up to 10.3% of the general population. About 2 percent of the 14,949 Americans studied reported shellfish allergy. It was more common among adults (2.5%) than children (0.5%). Shellfish food allergies (0.9%) led the list of food allergies, followed by that of peanuts (0.5%), according to a research based on the electronic health records (EHR) in the US (19).

2. May Be Contaminated With Heavy Metals

Shrimps are bottom feeders and are susceptible to accumulating heavy metals if their surrounding environment is polluted. As a result, concerns have been raised about the levels of mercury and other heavy metals, like cadmium, in shrimp.

However, most shrimps we eat are raised on farms where their nutrition and habitats are constantly monitored. Hence, the chances of mercury contamination in shrimps are low. Nevertheless, balance your shrimp intake to stay on the safe side.

Final Words

The low-carb and high-protein content makes shrimps an ideal food. They are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Besides, the astaxanthin (an antioxidant) in shrimps helps promote heart and brain health. Consuming shrimps regularly may lower blood triglyceride levels and potentially promote weight loss. Moreover, shrimps reduce oxidative stress and slow down UV-induced skin damage. But be wary of shrimp allergies. Consult your doctor if you experience any symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are shrimps healthier than chicken?

Shrimps have fewer calories and carbs than chicken. Chicken breast has high potassium levels while shrimps are rich in calcium. Besides, chicken is rich in niacin and vitamin B6 while shrimps have more folate and vitamin B12. Both foods have their unique advantages.

How much shrimp is too much to your body?

Taking more than 300g of shrimp per day is considered excess.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Astaxanthin for the Food Industry
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34063189/
  2. A GUIDE TO THE NATANT DECAPOD CRUSTACEA (SHRIMPS AND PRAWNS) OF NEW ZEALAND
    http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Bio07Tuat01-t1-body-d5.html
  3. Crustaceans shrimp cooked
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/175180/nutrients
  4. Shrimp as health food – Advisory fact sheet
    http://www.ciba.res.in/Books/ciba0595.pdf
  5. Astaxanthin in Skin Health Repair and Disease: A Comprehensive Review
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5946307/
  6. Trehalose against UVB-induced skin photoaging by suppressing MMP expression and enhancing procollagen I synthesis in HaCaT cells
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464620304229
  7. Potential Anti-aging Role of Taurine via Proper Protein Folding: A Study from Taurine Transporter Knockout Mouse
    https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-15126-7_38
  8. Anti-inflammatory properties of a heparin-like glycosaminoglycan with reduced anti-coagulant activity isolated from a marine shrimp
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0968089608008572
  9. Shrimp anti-lipopolysaccharide factor (SALF) an antimicrobial peptide inhibits proinflammatory cytokine expressions through the MAPK and NF-őļB pathways in LPS-induced HeLa cells
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0196978112004615
  10. Treatment of H. pylori infected mice with antioxidant astaxanthin reduces gastric inflammation bacterial load and modulates cytokine release by splenocytes
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165247899001455
  11. Suppressive Effect of Astaxanthin Isolated from the Xanthophyllomycesdendrorhous Mutant on Ethanol-Induced Gastric Mucosal Injury in Rats
    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1271/bbb.69.1300
  12. The Neuroprotective Effects of Astaxanthin: Therapeutic Targets and Clinical Perspective
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6680436/
  13. On the Neuroprotective Role of Astaxanthin: New Perspectives?
    https://www.mdpi.com/1660-3397/16/8/247/htm
  14. Astaxanthin: A Potential Therapeutic Agent in Cardiovascular Disease
    https://www.mdpi.com/1660-3397/9/3/447/htm
  15. In Reply–Impact of a High-Shrimp Diet on Cardiovascular Risk
    https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(20)31260-X/fulltext
  16. Leptin and zinc relation: In regulation of food intake and immunity
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3602991/
  17. Chapter 13 – Iodine and Adipocytokines: Cellular Aspects
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128021682000130
  18. A heparin mimetic isolated from a marine shrimp suppresses neovascularization
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1538-7836.2010.03916.x
  19. Overcoming Shellfish Allergy: How Far Have We Come?
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC7139905/

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