Is Shrimp Healthy? - Healthy recipes and cooking tips for a healthier lifestyle

Is Shrimp Healthy?

June 24, 2024
Is Shrimp Healthy?

Seafood is one of the healthiest protein choices we can eat – and shrimp is by far the most popular seafood eaten in the U.S. But is shrimp healthy? Do we need to limit how much shrimp we eat? And what kinds of meals can we make with shrimp?

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Read on for answers to questions related to how healthy shrimp is, as well as what to watch out for when you eat shrimp, so you can determine how it fits into a healthy diet plan. We’ve also rounded up some of our best healthy shrimp recipes so you won’t run out of ideas of what to make with shrimp. As you’ll see, shrimp is easy to cook and is versatile enough to use in all types of culinary dishes.

Why People Love Shrimp

Although Americans don’t each much seafood compared to many other countries, many people love shrimp. It’s so popular that the restaurant chain Red Lobster recently had to declare bankruptcy, in part because customers were eating too much shrimp during its famous all-you-can-eat shrimp campaign.

Some of the reasons shrimp is so popular is that it tastes delicious, it’s healthy and it’s easy to cook. It can be pan-fried, grilled, baked, boiled, broiled, stir-fried, air-fried or deep-fried. It can be eaten hot or cold. It can be enjoyed on its own or is easily incorporated into dishes that contain vegetables, fruits, grains or other proteins.

Shrimp also tastes good no matter what flavor profile you prefer, whether spicy, bold, mellow or mild. This tiny crustacean feels equally at home in any ethnic cuisine and is a welcome addition to whatever dish you make, whether salads, pastas, soups, tacos, appetizers or casseroles.

Health Benefits of Shrimp

Wondering how healthy shrimp is? Overall, it’s a healthy protein choice. Here are some highlights of shrimp’s health benefits:

  • Low calorie – There are only about 84 calories in a 3-ounce serving of shrimp, making it a very low-calorie food choice. By comparison, chicken has about 200 calories and steak has about 230 calories in a 3-ounce serving.
  • High protein – A 3-ounce serving of cooked shrimp has about 18 grams of protein. By comparison, chicken has about 26 grams and steak has about 21 grams in a similar-sized serving.
  • Low fat – Although shrimp is high in cholesterol, it has less than 1 gram of fat in 3 ounces. Saturated fat impacts blood cholesterol levels more than dietary cholesterol so shrimp’s low fat count makes it a heart-healthy choice for most people.
  • Vitamins and minerals – Shrimp contains a variety of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, selenium, iodine, zinc, copper and omega-3 fatty acids. However, it is not as much of a nutrient powerhouse as some other fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines or oysters.
  • Fewer environmental toxins – Because shrimp are near the bottom of the food chain, they tend to have fewer toxins, like mercury, than other forms of seafood such as swordfish or tuna.

What to Watch Out For When Eating Shrimp

Although shrimp is healthy, here are a few things to keep in mind if you tend to eat a lot of shrimp:

  • High cholesterol – Shrimp is one of the highest sources of dietary cholesterol, although this typically doesn’t have a major impact on blood cholesterol. But if you have high cholesterol or heart disease, talk to your doctor about whether you should limit the amount of shrimp you eat because some people are more sensitive to dietary cholesterol than others.
  • Preservatives and antibiotics – Most shrimp is farm-raised and may contain preservatives or antibiotics, depending on where and how it was raised. Wild shrimp is healthier than farm-raised but is more expensive and harder to find.

How to Cook Shrimp

Cooking shrimp is easier than you think! If you don’t buy ready-to-eat shrimp, you’ll probably want to peel and devein the shrimp before making most recipes. Some people prefer to cook shrimp with the shell on it because the shell adds flavor and protects the shrimp from overcooking. Plus, peel-and-eat shrimp is an enjoyable meal in and of itself.

If you plan to peel and devein shrimp before cooking, it’s easy to do. To peel off the shell and tail, just twist the tail and the shell will easily pull off. To devein shrimp, make a shallow slit down the back of the shrimp, stopping just before the tail. Then use the tip of the knife or your finger to slide the vein out.

Once your shrimp is prepared, there are many ways you can cook it. You can boil shrimp, which only takes about two minutes or so. Just place shrimp in boiling salted water until it turns pink outside and opaque in the center. You can also grill, bake or broil shrimp. Some people prefer battering and frying shrimp or you can cook shrimp in an air fryer. The possibilities are endless when it comes to how to cook shrimp.

If you’re looking for healthy meals made with shrimp, be sure to check out our recipes below. Each of these healthy shrimp dishes has been developed and tested by professional chefs and has been reviewed by registered dietitians to ensure it fits into various healthy diets.

Healthy Shrimp Recipes

Looking to make healthy shrimp meals the whole family will love? You’ve come to the right place! We have plenty of recipes to choose from that make this versatile crustacean the star of the show. From healthy shrimp dinner recipes to lighter fare you can enjoy for lunch or as an appetizer, we’re sure you’ll find something that strikes you fancy.

Healthy Shrimp Dinner Ideas:

Sesame Shrimp Stir-Fry

Healthy Shrimp Appetizers:

Asian Shrimp Rolls

Answers to Common Questions about Shrimp

Is shrimp heart-healthy?

Some people wonder if shrimp is heart-healthy because it has a lot of cholesterol. However, researchers have found that dietary cholesterol does not typically have a big impact on a person’s blood cholesterol levels unless they are sensitive to it. Shrimp is very low in fat, which has more of an impact on cholesterol. This makes it a heart-healthy dish but check with your doctor if you have high cholesterol or heart disease before eating too much shrimp.

How long does shrimp take to cook?

Cooking time for shrimp will vary based on how you are cooking it and the size of the shrimp. Just keep in mind that shrimp has a short cooking time (usually just a few minutes in total), so check it carefully to avoid overcooking or it can turn rubbery.

How long can you store raw shrimp?

Raw shrimp can be stored in the refrigerator for one to two days before cooking. If you need to store raw shrimp longer than that, freezing is recommended.

What are some healthy shrimp ideas that are family-friendly?

If you’re looking for healthy dinner recipes with shrimp the whole family can enjoy, think about what kinds of dishes everyone likes and chances are you can add shrimp to it in place of other protein. Healthy shrimp pasta dishes are usually crowd-pleasers, such as our Shrimp Lo Mein or Shrimp Spaghetti Squash. You can also add shrimp to tacos, fajitas, stir-fries and more.

Is grilled shrimp healthy?

Grilling shrimp is a very healthy way to eat it. Most grilled shrimp recipes use just a dry rub of spices to flavor the shrimp. You can also briefly marinate shrimp in lime or lemon juice but don’t marinate it too long or it may become mushy. Threading shrimp on skewers is an easy way to grill it and shrimp kebabs are fun to eat.

Are shrimp tacos healthy?

Adding shrimp to tacos is a healthy way to enjoy a Mexican-inspired dish. Just season shrimp to your liking and grill or saute the shrimp before adding it to soft tortillas, along with toppings such as pico de gallo, cabbage slaw, avocado and cilantro.

What can you add to a shrimp stir fry?

Stir-fries are a popular way to enjoy shrimp and a healthy shrimp stir-fry can include almost any vegetables you would like. Popular choices include peppers, onions, carrots, broccoli, snow peas, and mushrooms but the sky’s the limit on what you can add.

What’s the best way to flavor shrimp?

Shrimp is so versatile that it works well with almost any flavor palette, whether you’re looking for something spicy, sweet, hearty or mild. You can fire things up with a pop of sriracha and cayenne pepper or keep things simple with just a squeeze of lemon or lime. Some people like sweet and sour shrimp while others like the mix of heat and sweet that comes from healthy bang bang shrimp.

How do you store shrimp once cooked?

Most cooked shrimp lasts in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. It’s best to store it in an airtight container. Once cooked, shrimp should not be left at room temperature for more than an hour to avoid the growth of bacteria.

For more delicious and nutritious meal ideas, check out our blogs on Easy Dinner Recipes for a Heart-Healthy Diet, No-Cook Meals for Hot Days, and Healthy Dinner Meal Prep Ideas. These resources are packed with tips and recipes to help you enjoy healthy and satisfying meals every day.

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