Is Shrimp Healthy?

Shrimp is a popular seafood option around the world. It can be prepared in many ways, enjoyed on its own, or mixed into other dishes.

The main risk associated with shrimp is that it is a type of shellfish, so people with allergies to other shellfish (such as crab or lobster) will likely also be allergic to shrimp.

But if you are not allergic to shrimp or shellfish, it can be a tasty, nutritious food with many health benefits.

High Nutrient Density

There are a lot of nutrients packed into each of those little shrimps, with very few calories. 

Beyond the usual proteins and minerals that are found in many other foods, shrimp is one of the best sources of iodine. This essential nutrient plays a vital role in thyroid function and brain development.

Foods like fruits, vegetables, bread, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, meats, and poultry generally provide only small quantities of iodine. An estimated 300 million people around the world may be experiencing cognitive impairment and reduced mental ability due to iodine deficiencies.

Fortified foods and iodized salts can help fulfill iodine requirements, but shrimp is another delicious way to get your iodine.

Cholesterol Without Saturated Fats

You may be familiar with the risks associated with high cholesterol: heart disease, strokes, and other health problems.

Since shrimp contains relatively high amounts of cholesterol, you may be wary of eating it. But more in-depth research suggests that eating dietary cholesterol does not appear to raise blood cholesterol levels as much as previously thought because cholesterol is produced and regulated by your liver.

Instead, the foods associated with raised cholesterol levels (red meat, processed meats, full-fat dairy products, etc.) also tend to be high in saturated fats, which may be the real culprit behind high cholesterol disorders.

Shrimp, while high in dietary cholesterol, is low in saturated fats. Eating shrimp is unlikely to raise your cholesterol levels and may be protective against heart disease.

Neuroprotective Antioxidants

One of the nutrient compounds you’ll get from shrimp is astaxanthin. This is a powerful antioxidant that comes from the algae they eat, and it’s what gives them their reddish coloring. It’s also found in salmon, trout, lobster, and crab.

As an antioxidant, astaxanthin may help protect your cells from damage, reduce inflammation, and lower your risk for chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.

Some research suggests that astaxanthin also has neuroprotective effects, as well as helping promote and maintain neural plasticity. Eating shrimp may help protect your brain from age-related decline, improve cognitive function, and reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Beware of Allergies

If you have ever experienced any allergic reaction after eating any shellfish, it’s best to get tested by a doctor to confirm it and avoid eating shrimp in the future.

If you’ve never tried shrimp or shellfish before or are unsure if you are allergic, start with a small amount to see how you react. Beware of symptoms such as:

  • Itchy skin or hives
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, or throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or indigestion
  • Stomach cramps
  • Repetitive Cough
  • Tightness in throat
  • Hoarse voice
  • Weak pulse
  • Paleness or skin discoloration
  • Dizziness or confusion

Call emergency services immediately if you experience any severe symptoms after eating shrimp.

If you experience no adverse reactions, you can feel confident enjoying shrimp as part of a healthy diet.