Even though there’s an ocean full of foods that have high nutritional value, the bulk of the attention among many healthy eaters is focused on salmon, tuna, and seaweed. But when it comes to shrimp, it’s often a food many people order at restaurants but then overlook when planning their own meals at home.
Thankfully, there’s nothing, er, fishy about the benefits of adding shrimp to your meal. “Shrimp is really rich in protein,” says registered dietitian Erica Ingraham, RD. One four-ounce serving of shrimp has 23 grams of protein, which is half of the daily recommended protein intake. Shrimp also has almost no saturated fat, unlike some meat-based protein sources like beef or pork.
“As a high-protein food, shrimp will provide the body with energy and will also ensure your meal is satiating and you aren’t hungry shortly after eating,” Ingraham says. If you’re making a stir-fry, for example, and the only ingredients are rice and veggies, chances are you’ll be peaking in the fridge 30 minutes after eating looking for a snack.
Besides protein, Ingraham says shrimp is full of other nutrients too, including calcium, iron, and selenium. In fact, one serving of shrimp has almost an entire day’s worth of selenium. “Selenium is an antioxidant that’s important for DNA synthesis,” Ingraham says. “It helps prevent damage in cells and reduce inflammation in the body.” She adds that the calcium in shrimp helps keep bones strong and iron is an important nutrient for oxygen flow and providing the body with energy.
Impressed by all shrimp brings to the table? See a complete run-down of iits nutritional makeup below (for a serving size of four ounces):
Calories: 120 kcals
Protein: 23 grams
Fat: 2 grams
Calcium: 60 milligrams
Iron: 2 milligrams
In terms of what to keep in mind when buying shrimp, Ingraham says that both fresh and frozen shrimp have the nutritional benefits she mentioned. When you’re buying fresh shrimp, make sure the texture isn’t slimy or soft—that means it’s already going bad. If you plan on making your shrimp dish within two days of purchasing, you can use fresh shrimp. Not sure when you’ll be cooking it up? Go for frozen, which can last in your freezer for a full nine months. And regardless of fresh or frozen, opt for U.S. farm-raised shrimp, which the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch rates as the most sustainable choice.
Now that you know all about its benefits, it’s time to get in the kitchen. These nine healthy shrimp recipes here have you covered.
9 healthy shrimp recipes
This vibrantly colored West African meal is full of flavor and is really easy to make—you’re essentially throwing everything in one pot and cooking it all together. (Which also means clean-up will be relatively easy, too.) The key to perfecting this dish is using lots of spice: garlic, ginger, curry, thyme, and paprika all ensure this dish tastes anything but bland.
Get the recipe: Jollof rice with shrimp
If you’re craving a dinner that’s warm and nourishing, this soup will hit just the spot. The base of the soup is made with a chili oil seasoning which can be quite spicy, so if that’s not your thing, just forgo the chili flakes. (The ginger, garlic, and green onion still give plenty of flavor.) The bulk of the soup consists of noodles, veggies, and, of course, the shrimp.
Get the recipe: Jjamppong (Korean spicy seafood noodle soup)
For an uber high-protein meal, pair your shrimp with another protein source like eggs. This fluffy, delicious meal only takes 15 minutes to make and only requires five ingredients total: eggs, shrimp, white onions, mushrooms, and sea salt.
Get the recipe: Korean steamed eggs with shrimp
Similar to the jollof rice, everything in this dish can be cooked all together, cutting down on the number of dishes you’ll have at the end. While the shrimp ensures that it’s full of protein, the quinoa adds a good amount of fiber to the meal, and the garlic helps lower inflammation and is good for the immune system.
Get the recipe: Garlic shrimp with garlic and quinoa
Watch the video below to see more health benefits of garlic:
Shrimp. Pasta. Yes. Unlike scampi made with traditional pasta, this one is made with zucchini noodles, which ups the fiber in the meal so much that you don’t even need to throw together a side salad to round it out. Besides the zucchini and shrimp, all you need to make this dinner are some pantry items you likely already have: olive oil, garlic, crushed pepper flakes, chicken broth, salt, and pepper. If you have Parmesan cheese and lemon juice, they’re the perfect finishing touch.
Get the recipe: 15-minute shrimp scampi
Watch the video below to see more reasons why you’ll want to top off your pasta with olive oil:
While this walnut shrimp doesn’t have enough fiber to serve as an all-out meal, it’s a delicious side or app. (Or you can serve it on a bed of greens, if you do want to make it the star of your mealtime.) The walnuts are coasted with a mixture of ghee, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper and the shrimp is made with honey, sesame seeds, ghee, mayo, and lemon juice. The end result is a combo that’s equal parts sweet and tangy.
Get the recipe: Walnut shrimp
If you have an air fryer, you can absolutely use the kitchen tool to make some crispy popcorn shrimp, and this recipe breaks down exactly how to do it. Besides the shrimp, you’ll need all-purpose flour, panko breadcrumbs, paprika, black pepper, salt, and cooking oil. It only takes 10 minutes to make, too.
Get the recipe: Air fryer shrimp popcorn
More of an Instant Pot person? Don’t worry, you can use it to cook up some shrimp, too. This recipe shows how to use it to make a shrimp scampi in just 30 minutes, mixing frozen shrimp with pasta, peas, lemon, garlic, and butter. It will be so good you’ll be licking your fork clean.
Get the recipe: Instant Pot shrimp scampi
You can even use your Instant Pot to prep an entire shrimp boil. This recipe calls for all the classic shrimp boil ingredients, including corn, bay leaves, onion, garlic, and lots of cajun or Old Bay seasoning.
Get the recipe: Instant Pot shrimp boil
As you can see, there’s no shortage of ways to incorporate shrimp into your meals. Shrimp not only cooks quickly but is full of protein and other nutrients. That’s what makes it such a healthy dinner all-star.
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