Health Benefits of Shrimp

Make these protein-packed crustaceans the stars of your eat-well strategy. They're healthier than you think!

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A Diet "Do"

Protein helps rev up your calorie- and fat-burning ability, and shrimp is a standout source: Eat 10 to 12 medium- size shrimp, and you'll get 24 g protein (and just 99 calories and less than 1 g fat). This seafood is also high in zinc, a mineral that helps your body produce the appetite-controlling hormone leptin, and iodine, which helps your thyroid function at its best, keeping your metabolism stoked.

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Mood Booster and More

Shrimp serves up tryptophan, which is thought to trigger the release of the spirit-lifting hormone serotonin, and vitamin B12, an antioxidant that keeps your mind sharp and alert. These little swimmers also give you a healthy dose of selenium, a mineral that's been linked to better brain function, a strong immune system, and cancer prevention.

Coming Clean on Cholesterol

Over the years, shrimp has gotten heat for being high in cholesterol (about 130 mg for 3 oz.). But experts believe the positives outweigh the negatives: Shrimp contains almost no saturated fat and is high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and sterols -- both of which are thought to bring cholesterol and triglyceride levels down as well as reduce inflammation.

Source Smart

Because it tends to be low in mercury, shrimp is a great seafood choice. However, some farmed varieties might contain antibiotics and chemicals. Your ideal pick is cold-water shrimp that's wild-caught or farmed in a sustainable way; check the Seafood Watch at montereybayaquarium.org for specific recommendations.

Frozen is Fresh

Shrimp is flash-frozen right after it's harvested, so it's often fresher (and less expensive) than what's sitting in the display case.

SOURCES: Kevin R. Campbell, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; David B. Agus, M.D., Professor of Medicine And Engineering, University of Southern California, and author of A Short Guide To A Long Life.

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