See shrimp nutrition facts and how to avoid potential health risks related to the prevalence of “shrimp fraud” and other concerns.
Shrimp is a popular form of seafood enjoyed by people worldwide. In this article, we will discuss the health benefits of shrimp and the potential dangers. We will also discuss the various types and the best forms of shrimp to eat and avoid.
Nutrition Facts & Health Concerns
Despite its popularity, many people are leery of eating shrimp. One reason for the concern is the potential toxins the shrimp may contain, such as mercury. While that is a legitimate concern, consuming shrimp that is free of harmful toxins has many health benefits.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture lists the nutrient content for 1 ounce of cooked shrimp (without the shell) as follows:
|Vitamin A, RAE||17.4 µg|
|Vitamin B-12||0.238 µg|
|Choline, total||28.9 mg|
|Vitamin D (D2 + D3)||.028 µg|
|Vitamin K||.0112 µg|
The Danger of “Shrimp Fraud”
“Shrimp fraud” is the misrepresentation of the shrimp fed to consumers. The average person is unaware of where the shrimp they eat was caught or farmed. As a result, consumers cannot make prudent choices about the shrimp they eat. Studies are ongoing, but it is estimated that 30% to 40% of all shrimp sold is mislabeled or misrepresented.
While many think they are eating “wild shrimp” (shrimp caught in the wild), much of it is farmed-raised. The shrimp are grown in large industrial tanks or shallow man-made ponds. To keep the shrimp healthy, they are given food that may contain antibiotics designed to stop the spread of disease. In addition, if these ponds or tanks aren’t cleaned properly or maintained, layers of sludge, antibiotics, bacteria, and fecal matter can accumulate and attach to the shrimp. These harmful organisms and toxins could ultimately reach a person’s plate. This can also pose an environmental danger if wastewater from these tanks enters nearby lakes, streams, and waterways.
Many of these misrepresented shrimp is imported from other countries, with little testing or monitoring conducted before they are placed on store shelves or sold in restaurants. One of the best ways to avoid shrimp fraud is to consume ” traceable shrimp,” meaning it can be determined where it comes from. Another option is to purchase shrimp that comes from America, partly due to the more stringent food quality standards.
Mercury and Shrimp
One of the biggest concerns with seafood is mercury poisoning. In most cases, mercury is released into the water via industrial plants and wastewater. The mercury is then absorbed by the plants in the water. When fish eat the plants, the mercury then accumulates in their bodies. Levels of mercury in fish can vary. For example, tuna, marlin, and mercury can contain high levels of mercury, while shrimp, salmon, and oysters contain levels that may be undetectable in lab tests.
Even though mercury levels in shrimp are typically lower than in other types of sea life, it’s critical people are still aware of its dangers. For example, mercury can slowly accumulate in the body over time, eventually settling in the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. These glands help regulate hormones, which could be disrupted due to mercury. As result, it’s critical to avoid mercury and any foods that may contain it.
Antioxidants inhibit the process of oxidation, which are unstable molecules or free radicals that can potentially harm the body. Accelerated aging, elevated blood pressure, hardened arteries, and damaged cells are being studied as possible effects of oxidation. Shrimp contains two powerful antioxidants: selenium and astaxanthin. Selenium helps prevent oxidants from damaging cell membranes and DNA. Astaxanthin has been shown to decrease inflammation. Each of these antioxidants is believed to decrease the risk of premature aging and chronic disease.
Protein is a “macronutrient,” meaning the body needs large amounts for optimum health. Protein has many uses in the body, which include being the building block (or foundation) of bones, cartilage, skin, muscles, and blood. It also makes hormones, enzymes, and other body chemicals.
Shrimp are high in protein: three ounces of baked or broiled shrimp contain approximately 20 grams of protein. One jumbo shrimp contains three grams of fiber with small amounts of fat and carbohydrates. The amount of protein in shrimp can vary, depending on how it’s prepared. For example, fried shrimp contains 18 grams of protein, while canned shrimp has 17 grams of this micronutrient.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in every cell in the human body. Like fat in its composition, cholesterol is used by the body to make vitamin D, hormones, and substances that help digest food. Even though the body needs cholesterol, too much could increase the risk of having various health issues, such as hardened arteries, heart attack, or stroke.
According to the USDA and American Heart Association, cholesterol intake should not exceed 300 mg daily. This could pose a problem for shrimp lovers because it is high in cholesterol. Just three ounces of shrimp contain approximately 150 mg of cholesterol. However, shrimp does not contain trans-fat and only has small amounts of saturated fat. This is important because these substances are believed to have the greatest impact on elevating cholesterol levels. Please note: frying shrimp can increase trans-fat levels, thus affecting cholesterol levels).
Allergies to shrimp and shellfish are common, with approximately 200,000 reported cases annually in the United States. The allergy is caused by the immune system’s exaggerated response to proteins in shrimp and other seafood such as crab, oysters, scallops, lobster, and shellfish. Allergic reactions to shrimp consumption can occur within minutes or can take an hour or more to develop. Typical signs of shrimp allergy include the following:
- Swelling of the face, lips, tongue and throat
- Abdominal pain
Antihistamines are often used for mild allergic reactions such as itching and swelling. For severe reactions such as anaphylaxis, an epinephrine injection is administered. Some allergic reactions to shrimp can occur from simply touching it or inhaling the vapors while cooking. For those allergic to shrimp and other forms of seafood, avoiding all contact may be their best option.
Types of Shrimp to Avoid
In addition to misrepresented shrimp, there are other types of shrimp to avoid as well. Farmed shrimp, shrimp are grown globally, and imported wild shrimp may not be safe for human consumption. Farmed shrimp such as the tiger pawns and black tiger shrimp from Asia and Latin America are grown primarily in overcrowded ponds that contain bacteria, feces, and other health hazards. Imported wild shrimp are caught using large trawlers that scrape the bottom of the ocean. This process can harm other wildlife.
Other shrimp to be avoided include the following:
Popcorn is often deep-fried in vegetable oil and high in sodium. Vegetable oil is high in calories, and its consumption leads to many health issues over time, such as obesity, inflammation, and cardiovascular ailments.
Shrimp is a popular delicacy consumed around the world. It’s important to remember that not all shrimp are created equal, and preparation methods can tremendously impact its health benefits. Shrimp has many nutrients, but like everything else, moderation is key.
Tempura shrimp should also be avoided due to the poor quality oils the shrimp is fried in.
Shrimp is a popular delicacy consumed around the world. It’s important to remember that not all shrimp are created equal, and preparation methods can tremendously impact their health benefits. Shrimp has many nutrients, but like everything else, moderation is key.