When you’re thinking about delicious dinner options or seafood, shrimp is one of the healthiest and most nutritious choices out there. Despite the inference to being small, shrimp is packed with protein and rich in vitamins and nutrients, boasting beneficial anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. We’re going to talk more about the benefits of eating shrimp and why these delicious shellfish belong on your dinner table and in your weekly meal prep.
What Are Shrimp
Shrimp are a type of shellfish, more specifically a decapod crustacean. Shrimp are rich in vitamins, nutrients and the carotenoid Astaxanthin, which is responsible for their reddish color, which can also be found in lobster and krill. Shrimp are widespread and ubiquitous throughout a range of habitats, with thousands of different species.
Shrimp falls into two distinct categories: wild-caught shrimp and farmed shrimp. If you don’t live near a coast, then chances are you won’t be getting any fresh, never frozen wild caught shrimp. Domestic wild-caught shrimp accounts for less than 10 percent of all consumed shrimp in the US. The real difference comes in taste and freshness, with a firmer and plumper texture closer to lobster, than frozen shrimp.
Because of the consistent demand for inexpensive shrimp, most shrimp is sourced from countries without much government oversight or regulation such as Vietnam, India, or Southeast Asia. Yet, despite where shrimp come from, the nutrition is much the same.
Shrimp is packed with protein, healthy fats, and is low in calories, making them an excellent food choice to help with weight loss, muscle gain, and body optimization. According to the USDA Food Central database, a 3oz. 85g serving of shrimp contains
- Calories: 84.2
- Protein: 20.4 g
- Iron: 0.433 mg
- Phosphorus: 201 mg
- Potassium: 220 mg
- Zinc: 1.39 mg
- Magnesium: 33.2 mg
- Sodium: 94.4 mg
Shrimp Health Benefits
1. Body Optimization
Foods rich in protein, healthy fats, and low in calories are always a good option when your goal is body optimization, aka weight loss and muscle gain. Protein is a highly thermogenic food. The thermic effect of food is one of the components of metabolism or total daily energy expenditure along with resting metabolic rate, basal metabolic rate, activity level, age, and gender. Thermogenesis is essentially the energy “cost” it takes to breakdown your food, digest it, and turn it into fuel. While the cumulative effect of the thermic effect of food on total daily expenditure is small, it still contributes to burning more total calories and supporting your weight loss goals. Protein contains 4 calories per gram, with a thermic effect of 20-30%. Studies show that diet’s consisting of 30-35% protein will significantly improve thermogenesis.
Protein is also needed for the muscle building process, aka muscle protein synthesis. The amino acids found in protein, will help you build, rebuild, and inhibit muscle protein breakdown to ensure the effort you’re putting into your training and the gym are not waisted.
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2. Heart Health
Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring xanthophyll carotenoid, with 100-500 times higher antioxidant activity than other antioxidants fighting free radical damage and reducing. oxidative stress Several studies have shown that Astaxanthin may benefit anti-aging and skin health, as well as heart, immune, and brain health due to the powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
In a double-blind, randomized controlled trial, study participants were administered 12mg of Astaxanthin a day for eight weeks. The results were astounding, as the study showed a 20% decrease in levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), the blood marker for heart disease [R]
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Shrimp is also rich in essential omega-3 fats. Omega 3 fatty acids have been clinically proven to improve cardiovascular function by improving hypertension, raising HDL (good cholesterol) and lowering LDL (bad cholesterol). Several large scale studies have shown a significant reduction in the risk of cardiovascular events in those who consume more omega-3 in their diets.
3. Brain Health
Another shrimp health benefit is that they may also positively impact the brain and cognitive health due to the anti-inflammatory properties of Astaxanthin and Omega-3 fatty acids. The brain is highly susceptible to oxidative stress due to its high metabolic function and activity. More potent than other antioxidants such as beta-carotene, Astaxanthin is highly versatile and can absorb free radicals into its molecular structure, providing neuroprotective effects [R
Fat can increase neurological function and the efficiency of your brain’s mental processing and memory. It also improves mitochondrial function aka your energy production. Essential fatty acid deficiency can lead to problems concentrating and memory. Large scale cohort studies have shown that higher fat intake can help preserve memory in older populations [R].
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Shrimp is rich with omega-3 fatty acids. In a famous study called the Framingham Heart Study, two-thirds of the adult population of Framingham, MA, totaling 5,209 people in all were monitored for 57 years. One of the findings of this study showed that only 180 milligrams per day of the Omega 3 DHA, the equivalent of about 2.5 servings of fish per week, was associated with a 50% reduced risk of dementia [R].
Shrimp Health Benefits: Takeaway
Despite the connotation inherently applied by the name, shrimp is no shrimp at all. Shrimp is loaded with key vitamins and nutrients, including healthy omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and packed with protein. The benefits of eating shrimp make it the perfect dinner option to help you lean out, build muscle, and stay healthy.
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