There’s good news for shrimp lovers. You can eat your shrimp and be heart-healthy too. Research at Rockefeller University Hospital cosponsored by the Harvard School of Public Health¹ confirms that the cholesterol content of shrimp is not a cause for alarm. Numerous other studies reinforce this message: It’s the total fat profile of a food, not the food’s cholesterol content, that most impacts your cholesterol readings.

Low fat and Lean
Shrimp is low-fat and lean – and always has been. A typical serving (3 ounces cooked shrimp) has only 80 calories. Plus, “skinny” shrimp have only one gram of total fat per serving, less than a skinless chicken breast. Here are some specifics from the Rockefeller University research: Participants, all healthy adults with normal cholesterol levels, were rotated through three diets. They were served each of these diets for three weeks: a low-fat baseline diet, a diet high in eggs, and a diet based on 10 ounces of shrimp per day.

Shrimp and Cholesterol
Although shrimp is relatively high in cholesterol, the diet high in steamed shrimp did not adversely affect the lipoprotein file in people with normal blood cholesterol levels. In fact, cholesterol ratios of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) compared to “good” cholesterol (HDL) improved on the high shrimp diet. This ratio of LDL to HDL is an indicator commonly used by doctors to assess the risk of heart disease.The shrimp diet significantly lowered triglyceride levels, more than either the baseline low-fat diet or eggbased diet. Elevated triglycerides are often a worrisome factor in heart-related problems. The shrimp diet did not increase levels of heart-damaging LDL cholesterol.

Bottom line: With our health consciousness focused on total fat intake rather than on dietary cholesterol, there are few objections to eating shrimp. According to the Rockefeller study, shrimp can be included in hearth-healthy nutritional guidelines.² So eat smart when you eat shrimp.

¹American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 11996:64:712:-7 Effects of shrimp consumption on plasma lipoproteins, Elizabeth R De Oliveira e Silva, Cynthia E. Seidman, Jason J. Tian, Lisa C. Hudgins, Frank M. Sacks and Jan L. Breslow.

²As with all foods, the recommendations are for consumers with dietary constrains to exercise the cautions prescribed by their doctors.