Shrimp & a Heart-Healthy Diet

Shrimp served on a bed of pasta and zucchini ribbons topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Shrimp served on a bed of pasta and zucchini ribbons topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese. (Image: Maria_Lapina/iStock/Getty Images)

Although sometimes doctors or other health professionals advise people to avoid shrimp due to their high cholesterol content, the seafood can still be included as part of a healthy diet, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Just enjoy shrimp in moderation and limit other sources of sodium and cholesterol on days when you eat them.

Fat and Cholesterol Content

The amount of total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol in your food can affect your cholesterol levels and thus your risk for heart disease. A 3-ounce serving of cooked shrimp contains 179 milligrams of cholesterol, or 60 percent of the daily value, but provides only 2 percent of the DV for each total and saturated fat for a person following a 2,000-calorie diet. Saturated fat influences blood cholesterol levels a lot more than dietary cholesterol, which only has a slight effect, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Its low saturated-fat content is one reason why shrimp can still be eaten in moderation as part of a heart-healthy diet.

Sodium Content

Getting too much sodium in your diet can make you more likely to develop high blood pressure. Canned shrimp can provide a significant amount of sodium with up to 740 milligrams, or 34 percent of the DV, in each 3-ounce serving. Prepare fresh shrimp without added salt and limit other high-sodium foods on days when you eat it. This will help you stay within the recommended 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day for healthy people or 1,500 milligrams per day for people at increased risk for high blood pressure.

Omega-3 Content

Not only is shrimp low in total fat, but a portion of the fat it does contain is the heart-healthy omega-3 type. A 3-ounce serving of shrimp contains about 267 milligrams of omega-3 fats eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, out of the recommended 500 milligrams per day. These are the types of omega-3 fats that may help lower your blood pressure and triglycerides, as well as your risk for heart disease, according to Colorado State University Extension.

Healthy Preparation Methods

Cook your shrimp with moist heat, don't bread it and fry it. Adding breading and frying in fat doubles the calories per serving while increasing the total fat content to 16 percent of the DV and the saturated fat content to 9 percent of the DV. Dipping your shrimp in loads of butter is another no-no. Instead, grill your shrimp as part of a kebab, add it to lightly dressed green salads, toss it with pasta in a tomato-based sauce or add it to a summer roll.

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