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Are Prawns and Shrimps Healthy?

Prawns and shrimps are often considered to be the same, varying only in terms of size. But did you know how far from the truth that is? While prawns and shrimps are decapod crustaceans, which means they both posses ten legs and a hard exoskeleton (outer shell), their similarities end there. Prawns belong to a different sub-phylum called Dendrobranchiata while shrimps come from Pleocyemata. However, there’s no denying that both taste quite similar, though prawns are fleshier and, of course, larger in size. Unfortunately, over the years, prawns and shrimps have been branded as rich in cholesterol and thus, are considered a health hazard for many. But that isn’t entirely true; new research has been instrumental in proving that these crustaceans are quite healthy and full of nutrients. Let’s have a look why:

Nutrition Profile

Shrimps and prawns are a source of lean protein. While a three-ounce serving of shrimp (consisting of 15 to 16 shrimps) contains 101 calories and about 19 grams of proteins, it only contains 1.4 grams of fat. One serving also contains calcium, phosphorous, and potassium and vitamins A and E. On the other hand, prawns are rich in proteins, too, and one serving measuring three ounces consists of 100 calories and 22 grams of protein which is about the same amount found in a similar-sized piece of chicken or meat. Both prawns and shrimps are rich in dietary proteins that are crucial for the body to support its functioning and transport fuel, aka, energy to different organs, cells, and tissues.

Good Fats, Vitamins, and Minerals

Shrimps and prawns contain good fats such as Omega-3 fatty acids or unsaturated fats that support heart health by reducing the triglycerides in blood. Eating broiled, steamed, boiled, or cooked (not fried) prawns and shrimps can boost heart health, not adversely affect it. They also give the body a significant boost of vitamin B 12, vitamin B6, and Niacin that aid the body in producing energy faster and help make more RBCs, and thus maintain an optimal nerve function. Prawns are also rich in iron which helps strengthen the oxygen-carrying proteins in the muscle. Shrimps contain zinc, copper, and selenium which promote a healthy immune system and aid in the body’s metabolic functions. Selenium is an antioxidant that is vital in fighting free radicals, protecting the body from premature aging and damage to cell membranes. Eating shrimps and prawns will also help to maintain stronger bones. Prawns, as well as shrimps, are also rich in astaxanthin, an antioxidant that gives them their orange-pink pigment which is beneficial when it comes to healing inflammation.

The Cholesterol Debate

Present guidelines from the American Heart Association and USDA show that dietary cholesterol intake must not exceed 300 mg a day. Luckily, a three-ounce or single serving of shrimp/prawn provides half the amount of that. For years, prawns and shrimps have been avoided because of the belief that they are packed with bad cholesterol. This is not entirely true. Prawns and shrimp both contain unsaturated fats, and because dietary cholesterol is a result of saturated fats and man-made trans fats, it is safe to consume them. Of course, the best choice is to eat a limited quantity, just to be safe. And if you’re still feeling unsure, it is a good idea to check with your physician first.

Best Way to Eat Shrimps and Prawns

Shrimps and prawns are some of the most delicious types of meat on the planet and can be consumed in a plethora of ways, though not all of them are healthy. Avoid deep-frying preparations which may be harmful. Prawns and shrimps are delicate and they should not be dunked in heavy curries or gravies (though lobsters might be a different story), and even if you do like them in curries, try using lightly spiced recipes. Broiled and steamed prawns, or simple grilled versions taste delightful. Add them to salads, use them with wraps and buns and tacos, sauté or roast them, or simply add them to bakes – the ideas are endless!

Remember, like most shellfish, shrimps may cause severe allergies if not careful. The most severe symptoms include a severe anaphylactic shock to the system, though in most cases, people may get away with sneezing, itching, hives, a stuffy nose or throat, nausea, and more. As food allergies may develop at any time in your life, if it’s your first time with shrimps or prawns, it is a good idea to check with an allergist first. Please do not try to experiment because even the tiniest bite of seafood to someone who’s allergic may well be fatal.

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