Is Shrimp Healthy? 6 Shrimp Nutrition Facts to Know (2023)

Love shrimp? Registered dietitians weigh in on whether this crustacean is good for you.

Shrimp nutrition basics

When you dig into shrimp scampi, no doubt you’re thinking about the delicious taste. But what about the health benefits? When it comes to shrimp nutrition, you’re in luck, because the seafood is oh-so-good for you.

“Shrimp is rich in protein and contains many beneficial nutrients—including omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and iodine,” says Cindy Chou, a chef and registered dietitian nutritionist at Healthy Feels in Santa Monica, California.

“It’s also low in saturated fat and a source of astaxanthin, a carotenoid that gives shrimp its pink color after cooking.”

Research in the journal Marine Drugs found that astaxanthin has anti-inflammatory properties that may help increase HDL “good” cholesterol, although more research is needed, Chou notes.

What else should you know about shrimp nutritional data? Let’s take a look.

Is Shrimp Healthy? 6 Shrimp Nutrition Facts to Know (1)Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images

Different types of shrimp

Did you know that many different types of shrimp exist? Yup, and there are more than you probably realize.

Just in Florida, four shrimp species are harvested commercially, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. These include pink shrimp, brown shrimp, white shrimp (grayish with a blue, red, or green tinge on the legs and tail), and royal red shrimp (typically deep red but sometimes a grayish pink color).

Then, on the Atlantic coast, you’ll often find brown shrimp—while on the northern Gulf coast, lemon-yellow shrimp are more prevalent. You’ll also see blue shrimp, whiteleg shrimp, and many other varieties that come from around the world.

When you’re purchasing shrimp, you’ll find them fresh and frozen, as well as whole, with the head off, with the shell on, peeled, peeled and deveined, and with the tail on. Wow, that’s a lot of varieties!

And then there’s “regular” and “jumbo” shrimp, but you can disregard those labels. “Shrimp size is unregulated, so labels like ‘large’ or ‘jumbo’ are misleading,” says Jess DeGore, a registered dietitian and health coach in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“Instead, look for a range of numbers such as ’16-20,’ which indicates the number of individual shrimp it takes to make up one pound.”

Where shrimp comes from

In the United States, you’ll see shrimp from a variety of places. These locales include the United States (Florida and Oregon), Canada, Latin America, Ecuador, Asia, and Mexico.

To see which are the best choices in terms of sustainability and mercury content, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has a helpful seafood selector. You can also look for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) blue label on a product’s package to know that you’re purchasing sustainable seafood.

The shrimp that the EDF gives the highest ratings include northern shrimp sourced from the United States and Canada; pink shrimp from Oregon; giant freshwater prawn in the United States, Canada, and Latin America; spot prawn from Canada; and spot prawns from the United States.

The lowest-rated shrimp in terms of sustainability include blue shrimp, Chinese white shrimp, imported shrimp and prawns, pink shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico, and giant tiger prawn.

Shrimp health benefits

One of the biggest benefits that shrimp boasts: the eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3 fatty acids it contains.

“Shrimp has a wide variety of health benefits due to its high omega-3 fatty acid content and that it contains a low level of mercury compared to other fish options,” DeGore says.

“It has an abundance of vitamins and minerals—and it’s one of the best food sources of iodine, an important mineral required for proper thyroid function and brain health.”

You also get a big serving of vitamin B12.

“Vitamin B12 is important in the making of red blood cells,” notes Brynn McDowell, a registered dietitian at the Domestic Dietitian in Livermore, California.

And shrimp boasts an incredible 20 grams of protein per 3-ounce cooked portion—making it an excellent source of protein. “Shrimp are primarily made up of water and protein, making it a great, low-calorie addition to meals,” McDowell adds.

(Here are the best fish to eat.)

Shrimp and disease prevention

Because of the amazing nutrients that shrimp provides, the seafood may help prevent certain diseases. In fact, the omega-3s that shrimp contains may help prevent cardiovascular disease, found a review study in Nutrients.

“Studies show that increasing your consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3s by 1 gram per day may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by 5.8 percent,” Chou says. “For reference, a 3-ounce serving of shrimp contains approximately 0.12 grams of each.”

Eating shrimp also helps decrease inflammation in the body. “Free radicals are unstable particles in the body that can damage cells and lead to inflammation,” McDowell says. “Research indicates that chronic inflammation can lead to higher instances of premature aging and diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers, dementia, and diabetes. Antioxidants help the body fight free radicals.”

Plus, shrimp boasts iodine. “This is an important mineral for thyroid and brain health,” Chou says. “Adequate iodine intake is important for preventing goiter.”

Goiter is an abnormal enlarged thyroid gland that can make it hard to breathe or swallow. You’ll get additional thyroid-benefitting nutrients from shrimp. “We need selenium, zinc, copper, iodine, and calcium for our thyroids to function properly, and shrimp contains all five of these minerals,” McDowell says.

Is Shrimp Healthy? 6 Shrimp Nutrition Facts to Know (2)grandriver/Getty Images

Shrimp nutrition facts

Shrimp’s nutrition value is pretty incredible. Here are the nutrition facts, including the recommended daily values (DVs)—for a 3-ounce serving of cooked shrimp.

  • Calories: 84
  • Total Fat: 0 g (0 percent DV)
  • Protein: 20 g (40 percent DV)
  • Carbohydrates: 0 g (0 percent DV)
  • Sodium: 94 g (5 percent DV)

How much shrimp to eat

Just how much shrimp is OK to eat? Well, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans say adults should aim for two 4-ounce servings of seafood per week. However, many experts recommend eating up to 12 ounces per week.

“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that eating up to three 4-ounce servings of seafood per week is considered safe,” says Chou, who notes that shrimp contains lower levels of methylmercury than many other types of seafood.

Risks and side effects of shrimp

Allergic reaction

Probably the most important thing to know about shrimp, in terms of potential risks, is that it’s one of the eight major food allergens. That means people with an allergy may experience severe and sometimes life-threatening anaphylaxis when consuming it.

“More mild reactions to be aware of include a stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy skin, hives, tingling in the mouth, abdominal pain, and nausea,” DeGore says. If you’re allergic to shrimp, avoid eating it and chat with an allergist about keeping an EpiPen on hand in case of emergency.

Iodine and mercury

Other risks include over-consuming mercury or iodine. “Although it’s highly unlikely, eating too much shrimp could lead to high levels of iodine or methylmercury,” Chou says.

“For adults, the tolerable upper intake level (UL) of iodine is 1,100 micrograms per day. Three ounces of shrimp contains 13 micrograms, which means you would have to eat more than 15 pounds per day to reach that level.” And since the level of methylmercury in shrimp is low, eating 12 ounces or less each week shouldn’t be a concern, she adds.


Additionally, eating too much shellfish may lead to an increased risk of gout, a form of inflammatory arthritis, Chou adds. Of course, a diet with variety avoids this issue.

“It’s important to remember that the goal of a healthy diet and lifestyle is variety and that too much of any one thing is not ideal,” McDowell says.


If you’re worried about the cholesterol that shrimp contains, don’t be too concerned. While shrimp contains 161 milligrams of cholesterol (54 percent DV) per 3-ounce serving, current research suggests saturated fat has a bigger impact on the body’s cholesterol levels, versus dietary cholesterol.

“The American Heart Association indicates that the key to reducing cholesterol levels in the body is to focus on limiting foods high in saturated and trans fats,” McDowell says.

“Shrimp is low in saturated fat and doesn’t contain any trans fats. However, people with high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease should always consult with their doctor and/or registered dietitian for specific recommendations and guidelines on high-cholesterol foods in their diets.”

How to eat shrimp

Is Shrimp Healthy? 6 Shrimp Nutrition Facts to Know (3)Courtesy Kelsey Pezzuti, MS, RD

You can enjoy shrimp in so many delicious recipes! “Shrimp is super versatile and can be prepared in a plethora of ways—grilled, sautéed, broiled, poached, sous vide, and boiled,” DeGore says.

You do have to take some steps to make it ready for cooking, though.

“Prior to cooking, always clean and devein shrimp by cutting through the shell opposite the tail and picking out the ‘vein’ that runs along the back,” says DeGore, who notes the “vein” isn’t really a vein; it’s actually the shrimp’s digestive tract! Preparation with tail and shell is optional.

Of course, how you prepare shrimp will affect the healthfulness of the meals you prepare. “Often, shrimp is breaded, fried, or served in a butter sauce, which means that additional calories, saturated fats, and trans fats might be added,” McDowell says.

Chou prefers steaming or boiling.

“If you don’t mind the extra work of peeling, steaming, or boiling, shrimp with its shell on adds extra sweetness and depth in flavor. As a chef, I also use shrimp shells to make flavorful seafood stocks and sauces.”

Shrimp recipes to try

Elena Eryomenko/ShutterstockThe Best Omega-3-Rich Fish
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Is shrimp healthy or unhealthy? ›

Shrimp is very nutritious. It's fairly low in calories and provides a high amount of protein and healthy fats, as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals.

What is a healthy amount of shrimp? ›

To reap the health benefits, The American Heart Association recommends two servings of non-fried fish or seafood a week, and Danowski says shrimp can fill that quota. For portion sizes, she recommends three or four ounces, which usually comes out to around six to nine large shrimp.

Does shrimp have any health benefits? ›

The antioxidants in shrimp are good for your health. These substances can protect your cells against damage. Studies suggest that the antioxidant astaxanthin helps prevent wrinkles and lessens sun damage. Shrimp also has plenty of selenium.

What is the nutritional value of eating shrimp? ›

Shrimp is an excellent source of vitamin B12, providing 1.4mcg or 59% of the daily value (DV). 3 They are also a good source of phosphorus, providing 201 mg or 16% of the DV. 4 and choline providing 69 mg or 12.5% of the DV. 5 Shrimp also provide calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and selenium.

Is shrimp better for you than fish? ›

Best: Shrimp

They're low in mercury -- and calories -- and high in protein. And they're popular: Shrimp accounts for about half of the seafood eaten in the U.S. The only drawbacks are that they're higher in cholesterol than most fish. They're also low in omega-3s.

Are shrimp healthier than chicken? ›

Chicken has more thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and Vitamin B6, however, shrimp contains more folate and Vitamin B12. Chicken is an excellent source of potassium. Shrimp has 10.9 times less saturated fat than chicken.

Is shrimp good for high blood pressure? ›

The healthy fats in shrimp, like omega-3 fatty acids, can lower your blood pressure and odds of getting heart disease and stroke.

Is shrimp good for your heart? ›

Both are low in saturated fat but high in other nutrients. The authors suggest that shrimp and egg are healthful foods that will not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) even list shrimp as a food that can lower cholesterol levels — as long as people do not fry it.

Do shrimp raise cholesterol? ›

And shrimp have high levels of beneficial highly unsaturated fatty acids, which raise HDL cholesterol levels, so eating shrimp may actually lower blood cholesterol levels.

Is shrimp healthier than beef? ›

Shrimp is certainly lower in fat and calories than lean beef: Three ounces contains 31 grams of protein, eight grams of total fat, and 3.2 grams of saturated fat. Even skinless chicken breast has a little more fat than shrimp.

Is shrimp good for the Liver? ›

What do sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, scallops and shrimp have to do with your liver? They are all excellent sources of Vitamin B12. About 90% of the B12 found in your body is stored in your liver, and liver damage decreases B12 levels.

Is shrimp healthier than chicken breast? ›

add up to 84 calories—about 15 less than a 3-ounce chicken breast (about the size of a deck of cards). “Shrimp is a good source of lean protein, vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, selenium and zinc,” says registered dietitian Sayde Beeler.

Is shrimp better protein than chicken? ›

A 5-ounce serving of shrimp blows chicken out of the water with 31 grams of protein.

How many shrimp is one serving? ›

A typical serving of shrimp is 3 ounces. This can be 12 to 20 small shrimp per person, depending on the size.

How often should you eat shrimp? ›

Since shrimp also is high in sodium, consider limiting your intake to no more than four servings per week.

Which is healthier tuna or shrimp? ›

Both shrimp and tuna are lean protein sources that are nutrient-rich and contain essential omega-3 fats, but tuna is slightly more nutritious than shrimp. You should vary your seafood choices to maximize your nutrient intake and minimize your mercury intake.

What is the number 1 healthiest fish? ›

6 of the Healthiest Fish to Eat
  1. Albacore Tuna (troll- or pole-caught, from the US or British Columbia) ...
  2. Salmon (wild-caught, Alaska) ...
  3. Oysters (farmed) ...
  4. Sardines, Pacific (wild-caught) ...
  5. Rainbow Trout (farmed) ...
  6. Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in tank systems, from the US)
Nov 16, 2018

Which seafood is the healthiest Why? ›

Best: Salmon

It's high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. And as a canned fish, it generally has less mercury than tuna. Wild salmon caught in Alaska is a good source, whether fresh or canned.

What are the pros and cons of eating shrimp? ›

It provides lean protein and key nutrients and may help guard your health. But shrimp may also contain unwanted contaminants or need to be avoided due to an allergy. If you are not allergic to shrimp and you enjoy it, eat it in moderation to limit your intake of potential pollutants.

What is healthier salmon or shrimp? ›

Summary. Shrimp is richer in vitamin E, selenium, choline, phosphorus, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and copper. In comparison, salmon is richer in omega-3 fats, vitamin B complex, vitamin D, and potassium. Salmon is higher in calories and total fats and shrimps are higher in sodium.

Is shrimp better than lobster? ›

Well, shrimp isn't necessarily dense in nutrients, but it does provide a fine source of selenium, calcium and iodine, and is full of protein and vitamin B. Lobster and crab contain decent levels of magnesium, selenium and zinc, but not the protein and omega-3s that fish or even mollusks offer.

What is the number one food that causes high blood pressure? ›

Salt or sodium

Salt, or specifically the sodium in salt, is a major contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease. This is because of how it affects fluid balance in the blood. Table salt is around 40 percent sodium. Some amount of salt is important for health, but it's easy to eat too much.

Can shrimp raise your blood sugar? ›

Prawns and shrimp are considered safe for diabetics due to their near-zero carbohydrate and sugar content. Both shrimp and prawns have a very low glycaemic index (GI) score. Therefore, they do not affect blood sugar levels like other types of seafood or meat.

What seafood raises blood pressure? ›

Shrimp. Shrimp have numerous nutritional benefits, including high levels of protein. However, many people may not know that this seafood is high in sodium, containing about 111 mg per 100 g serving, according to the USDA. The shrimp's saltwater habitat isn't the only reason it is so high in sodium.

Is shrimp a junk food? ›

Shrimp are low in calories while also being a great source of protein. A 3-ounce serving of steamed shrimp supplies about 84 calories and 20 g of protein. Plus, the health benefits of shrimp are vast.

Can I eat shrimp with high cholesterol? ›

Shrimp is a puzzling food for people watching their diet, since it is very low in fat but very high in cholesterol. The key with eating shrimp appears to be moderation. Though 100 g of shrimp contains 65 percent of the recommended daily allowance of cholesterol, a single large shrimp contains only 3-4 percent.

What has more cholesterol shrimp or eggs? ›

But shrimp has more cholesterol than an egg! Shellfish contains slightly less cholesterol than farm animals with a few exceptions, particularly shrimp and squid. These two anomalies have about two to three times the amount of cholesterol compared to other animals.

Which seafood is best for cholesterol? ›

The best in terms of lowering cholesterol are tuna, salmon, and swordfish. Sardines and halibut are good options, too.

How much shrimp is too much cholesterol? ›

That's because a small serving of 3.5 ounces supplies about 200 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol. For people at high risk for heart disease, that amounts to a full day's allotment. For everyone else, 300 mg is the limit.

What meat is the healthiest? ›

5 of the Healthiest Meats
  1. Sirloin Steak. Sirloin steak is both lean and flavorful – just 3 ounces packs about 25 grams of filling protein! ...
  2. Rotisserie Chicken & Turkey. The rotisserie cooking method helps maximize flavor without relying on unhealthy additives. ...
  3. Chicken Thigh. ...
  4. Pork Chop. ...
  5. Canned Fish.
Jan 6, 2020

Is seafood healthier than chicken? ›

While they are both excellent sources of protein and add to your nutrient profile, the benefits of fish tend to be slightly higher than chicken, especially when it comes to the Omega-3 content in it.

Is grilled or boiled shrimp healthier? ›

While shrimp is a low-calorie source of protein, it needs to be prepared properly in order to maintain its health benefits. The healthiest way to cook shrimp is to steam or grill. Serve your steamed or grilled shrimp with salads and low-calorie pasta for a completely balanced meal.

What can I drink to flush my liver? ›

8 Great Bedtime Beverages for Detoxification
  • Chamomile Tea. This tea is mildly bitter due to its sesquiterpene lactone content which helps the liver prime its detoxification pathways. ...
  • Lemon Water. ...
  • Jujube Fruit. ...
  • Lotus Seed. ...
  • Rose Tea. ...
  • Peppermint Tea. ...
  • Oat Tea. ...
  • Schizandra Berry Tea.

What 3 foods harm the liver? ›

French fries, wafers, burgers, and pizzas do no good to your liver. These food items are high in saturated fat or trans-fat content and are difficult to digest. In other words, your liver needs to work hard to process these food items.

Is shrimp good for your kidneys? ›

Although shrimp has more cholesterol than other seafood, the amount is still reasonable for a kidney diet. Plus, there's practically no fat in a serving of shrimp. Look for fresh shrimp that has never been frozen, and check the labels for added phosphates or salt.

What chemicals are in shrimp? ›

Average composition of flesh was: water 76.74%, fat 0.91%, ash 1.71%, total phosphorus 0.49%, and total protein 22.07%, the last being made up of 76.5% pure protein. Shrimp flesh protein contained a large amount of arginine, histidine, and proline, but not so much threonine, methionine, valine, lysine, and tryptophane.

Is shrimp good for you to Lose Weight? ›

Yes, as long as you don't drown it in tons of oil and eat it in small or moderate amounts. Shrimp is low in calories, carbs, and fat, but high in protein and essential micronutrients. It is also quite beneficial for your health and may promote better heart health.

Which is better pork or shrimp? ›

Pork has more Zinc, Monounsaturated Fat, and Polyunsaturated fat, while Shrimp has more Copper, and Calcium. Shrimp covers your daily need of Cholesterol 36% more than Pork. Pork contains 129 times more Monounsaturated Fat than Shrimp. While Pork contains 6.19g of Monounsaturated Fat, Shrimp contains only 0.048g.

Is shrimp high in iron? ›

You can satisfy your craving and get some iron, too. Shrimp and oysters are packed with it. Toss in some brown or enriched rice and you'll turn it into an iron-rich treat.

How much protein do I need a day? ›

The recommended dietary allowance to prevent deficiency for an average sedentary adult is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. For example, a person who weighs 165 pounds, or 75 kilograms, should consume 60 grams of protein per day.

What meat has highest protein? ›

You may be surprised to hear that chicken breast has the most protein in it compared to all types of meat. It has an impressive 30.9g of protein per 100g/3.5 ounces.

How many shrimp is 100 calories? ›

They are low in calories — about 100 calories in 15 large shrimp — quick and easy to cook, and a “good source of protein,” says Alice H.

How many pieces of shrimp is 1 oz? ›

You will get anywhere from 8 to 15 shrimp per 1 lb bag and 2-3 shrimp per serving. This comes out to around one shrimp per ounce.

How many pieces of shrimp is 4oz? ›

4 oz. depending on size of your shrimp: Jumbo (21-25 count per pound): 5-6 shrimp. Large (31-35 count per pound): 8-9 shrimp. 5-6 jumbo sized shrimp, 8-9 large-sized shrimp, or 10-11 medium-sized shrimp.

How many shrimp is too many? ›

Consuming more than 300 grams of shrimp per day puts one at risk for cardiovascular diseases. What is this? People who have shrimp allergies should also refrain from eating even small amounts of shrimp to avoid complicated allergic symptoms.

Is shrimp OK to eat everyday? ›

Is it okay to eat shrimp every day? A. Doctors now consider it safe for most people to consume shrimp daily, irrespective of their cholesterol levels. In moderation, shrimp consumption can provide many essential nutrients.

Is shrimp high in mercury? ›

Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.

Can shrimp cause health problems? ›

While shrimp has some potential risks like cholesterol as well as possible contaminants and allergies, the overall benefits outweigh the risks for most people. The crustacean can be a delicious part of a heart-healthy diet, so long as you don't have a shrimp allergy.

Is shrimp worse than red meat? ›

Shrimp is certainly lower in fat and calories than lean beef: Three ounces contains 31 grams of protein, eight grams of total fat, and 3.2 grams of saturated fat. Even skinless chicken breast has a little more fat than shrimp.

What are the cons of eating shrimp? ›

Shrimp May Contain Contaminants

Shellfish may contain a range of unwanted additives, including heavy metals and microplastics. 2324 The health effects of these substances aren't completely understood, but excess mercury is known to impact the nervous system as well as heart and kidney health.

Does shrimp raise your blood pressure? ›

Frozen fish and seafood: While seafood is considered to be a healthier meat, it may contain a higher amount of sodium. For instance, fresh shrimp is high on sodium. Similarly, frozen fish is often brined in a salt solution to make it last longer and it is best to avoid it if you have high blood pressure.

Is shrimp healthier than grilled chicken? ›

Shrimp ranks among Americans' favorite seafood. While the mini-crustaceans may be small, they pack big nutritional punch. A bonus: One jumbo shrimp supplies only 14 calories, which means a half-dozen (about 3 oz.) add up to 84 calories—about 15 less than a 3-ounce chicken breast (about the size of a deck of cards).

Are frozen shrimp healthy? ›

Health Benefits of Frozen Shrimp

Packed with essential amino acids, shrimp are low in saturated fat and are an excellent source of protein. A 2021 study concluded that it is advisable to eat shrimp and other fatty seafood weekly — provided they're not fried.

How many shrimp is a serving? ›

A typical serving of shrimp is 3 ounces. This can be 12 to 20 small shrimp per person, depending on the size.

What seafood is the healthiest? ›

6 of the Healthiest Fish to Eat
  1. Albacore Tuna (troll- or pole-caught, from the US or British Columbia) ...
  2. Salmon (wild-caught, Alaska) ...
  3. Oysters (farmed) ...
  4. Sardines, Pacific (wild-caught) ...
  5. Rainbow Trout (farmed) ...
  6. Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in tank systems, from the US)
Nov 16, 2018


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