For years my culinary students have told me how much they love shrimp. They’re pretty surprised when I tell them that these crustaceans are not only delicious, but good for you too! Here’s why we love shrimp and how you can too.
90% of the shrimp Americans consume is imported from countries in the Central and South America and Asia-Pacific regions. The hundreds of species of shrimp are typically divided into 2 basic categories: warm-water and cold-water shrimp. The rule of thumb is the colder the water, the smaller and juicier the shrimp.
Shrimp ranges in hue from deep red to pink to grayish-white to yellow and even dark green. When cooked, most shrimp shells change color due to a heat-induced chemical change.
You can buy shrimp according to their size—usually you’ll find that larger shrimp cost a prettier penny. Colossal shrimp usually come 10 or less per pound, jumbo 11-15 per pound, extra-large 16-20 per pound, large 21-30 per pound, medium 31-35 per pound, small 36-45 per pound and miniature about 100 per pound. Of course, these numbers can vary from region to region. As a general rule, one pound of whole, raw shrimp yields ½ to ¾ pound of cooked meat.
Shrimp is available all year round. They can be found in various forms at your local market such as shelled or unshelled, cooked or raw and fresh or frozen.
The Nutrition Scoop
Three ounces of shrimp has 83 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 18 grams of protein. It’s an excellent source of selenium and a good source of vitamins D and B12. It also has a boatload of omega-3 fats and the amino acid tryptophan.
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 2 servings per week of seafood—right now, the average American only eats one serving per week. The American Heart Association also advocates eating seafood twice a week; studies have shown that it can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Many of my clients have voiced concern about the cholesterol found in shrimp. Studies have shown that saturated fat (not cholesterol) has a greater impact on raising your bad cholesterol. Although 3-ounces of shrimp contains about 40% of your daily recommended max of cholesterol, it doesn’t contain any saturated fat. In addition, shrimp is very low in calories per ounce (about 28)—which makes it one of the lowest calorie protein sources around.
Here are ways you can enjoy this succulent crustacean:
- Roast shrimp for a delicious twist on shrimp cocktail.
- Keep it cool with Ellie Krieger’s Shrimp and Snow Pea Salad.
- A little bit of bacon goes a long way with Tyler Florence’s Bacon Wrapped Shrimp.
- Nothing beats a home-cooked Jambalaya.
- Grill ‘em up in this Charcoal Grilled Shrimp recipe courtesy of The Shrimp Council (pictured above).
Charcoal Grilled Shrimp
Number of Servings: 30 kebabs
2 pounds large shrimp in the shell
1/3 cup safflower oil
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons dry white wine or vermouth
1 tablespoon minced shallots or green onions (white part only)
1 clove garlic minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh dill
Several dashes Tabasco sauce
Place shrimp in a shallow ceramic or glass baking dish. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over shrimp. Cover and chill several hours or overnight. Drain shrimp and reserve marinade. Thread on skewers or place in a wire grill basket. Grill shrimp over hot coals, turning and brushing with reserved marinade, until pink and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Serve with wooden picks.
TELL US: Why do you love shrimp?
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »