Shrimp Cholesterol Myth Exposed
The shrimp cholesterol myth proclaims that shrimp is very healthy for your heart because it’s in the fish family. Well, the crustacean family to be exact. This claim is blatantly false for reasons I’ll expand on.
Shrimp is an extremely popular type of seafood that’s enjoyed in many different countries. It tastes delicious and has been thought to be very nutritious as well. There are a plethora of other types of seafood out there besides shrimp that are actually very healthy for the heart, such as salmon, herring, and mackerel. On the opposite end of the spectrum lies seafood like shrimp, lobster, and squid, which are not so great for the heart given their high cholesterol content, among other things
OK, so now let’s break down why the shrimp cholesterol myth is just that, a myth.
Why is the shrimp cholesterol myth false?
The shrimp cholesterol myth that shrimp is actually great for your heart is not true. Now, I must first say that I’m in no way shape or form saying that shrimp is a dangerous food to eat or that by eating it you’ll increase your cholesterol levels after your meal commences. I’m simply stating that it doesn’t offer much as far as its cholesterol lowering capability.
100 grams (3.5 oz) of shrimp contains about 189 mg of cholesterol in it. That’s on the high side given such a small amount. In contrast, salmon contains about 55 mg of cholesterol per 100 grams.
Besides this, shrimp is also on the lower end of the spectrum as far as omega-3 fatty acid content goes. Omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy fats that help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. 3 oz of shrimp contains under 200 mg omega-3’s. This is pretty shocking when compared to herring or mackerel, who’s omega-3 content is over 1,500 mg per 3 oz.
Shrimp also has a very modicum amount of heart healthy unsaturated fat in them too. With only 0.1 g of polyunsaturated fats and 0 g of monounsaturated fats, this leaves shrimp contributing nearly zero heart healthy fats to the heart.
This is really what makes the shrimp cholesterol myth false. If there were a significant amount of unsaturated fats in them, then the high amount of cholesterol found in shrimp would be less significant. It’s a give and take type of situation. And as far as shrimp goes, it’s nearly all take.
It’s not all bad. Is it?
Shrimp, like most seafood, is a very low calorie food. It contains virtually no saturated fat in it. Regardless of shrimp’s shortcomings, it’s still a much greater alternative than beef or pork. Shrimp contains about 1 calorie per 1 gram. That’s pretty impressive as the bulk of its calories come primarily from protein, containing about 24 g per 100 g of shrimp.
So, the argument here is not to say that shrimp is horrible for your health, that’s not true. I’m merely saying that its ability to lower cholesterol and improve heart health is meek. It’s sort of in the middle really. It won’t do wonders for your heart health, but it also won’t have a huge negative impact on it as well. Of course this is relative based on your current health, the quantity of shrimp you eat, how it’s prepared, etc. Which brings me to the next section…
Ways to make shrimp healthier
Shrimp doesn’t have to be all bad. Even though the shrimp cholesterol myth is false, there are in fact many ways that you can improve the heart healthy characteristics of this tasty crustacean.
For one, you can try cooking your shrimp in olive oil or in some other vegetable oil instead of butter. Olive oil is jam packed with heart healthy unsaturated fats. These unsaturated fats help you to lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise your “good” HDL cholesterol. This aids in cleansing your arteries from the build up of harmful plaque.
Another very helpful way that you can cater to the shrimp cholesterol myth is by eating vegetables on the side. Vegetables (and fruits) contain fiber in them which is extremely beneficial for lowering cholesterol. Cooking shrimp in olive oil and eating vegetables on the side will improve the overall meal’s cholesterol lowering characteristics immensely.
To help improve the health of your heart throughout the day regardless of what’s on the menu, you may also be interested in trying some heart healthy supplements like omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil softgels. This will help to add even more cholesterol lowering power with little to no effort needed on your part. These are just a handful of ways that you can make shrimp healthier, ways that the shrimp cholesterol myth seemed to have left out.
Final thoughts on the shrimp cholesterol myth
As you can see, the shrimp cholesterol myth claim that shrimp is healthy for your heart because it’s a type of seafood like salmon and herring is blatantly false. It contains virtually no unsaturated fats in it, as well as containing a relatively high amount of cholesterol compared to other types of seafood.
Regardless of this, there are indeed several ways that you can at least improve the dish as a whole. You can do this by adding in some vegetables, cooking the shrimp in olive oil, or by taking a fiber or fish oil supplement. These are all gray areas that the shrimp cholesterol myth fails to take into consideration.
The amount of shrimp you consume is also a factor here. If you eat an exorbitant amount of shrimp on a daily basis, then it may in fact affect your heart and cholesterol levels negatively. This of course depends on how you prepare the shrimp, if there are vegetables on the side, what the current status of your heart is, where your cholesterol levels are, and so on.
The shrimp cholesterol myth does not hold much weight, especially when you look at it from all of the different angles I’ve laid out herein. There’s no need to cut out shrimp from your diet all together. Simply take precautions when eating them and do your best to make the meal as a whole a heart healthy one. Talk to your doctor if you feel as though you have any further concerns regarding this subject. All in all, the shrimp cholesterol myth that shrimp itself is great for your heart health because it’s a type of seafood is simply untrue.
Basic Report: 15148, Crustaceans, lobster, northern, cooked, moist heat. Retrieved from https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/4627?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=50&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=15148&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=
Basic Report: 15271, Crustaceans, shrimp, cooked (not previously frozen). https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/4740?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=50&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=15271&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=
Omega-3 Content of Frequently Consumed Seafood Products. Retrieved from http://www.seafoodhealthfacts.org/seafood-nutrition/healthcare-professionals/omega-3-content-frequently-consumed-seafood-products