Wild shrimp and organically farmed shrimp are nutrient-rich and low in calories—two of the reasons that we included shrimp on our website as a World's Healthiest Food. It's also very unusual to find a food that is rich in the same combination of nutrients as shrimp—selenium and vitamin B12. Because this particular list of nutrients is often deficient in the U.S. diet, shrimp could play a unique role by —filling in the gaps—for all three nutrients all at once.
Shrimp is also a good seafood to include in a Healthiest Way of Eating since many varieties are very low in mercury levels, good news for those who are looking to enjoy seafood but reduce their exposure to this contaminant. In its excellent 2007 report (Sunderland EM. Mercury Exposure from Domestic and Imported Estuarine and Marine Fish in the U.S. Seafood Market. Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 115, Number 2), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined wild-caught shrimp to have an average of .03-.04 ppm (parts per million) of mercury. I classify any fish with mercury content lower than .1 ppm level as a fish with —very low— mercury since this level is 1/10th of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Action Level for mercury in fish and shellfish.
All of that being said, and even if a person was deficient in selenium and vitamin B12, I would not recommend eating shrimp every day. We don't know enough about any individual food—or any specific food combinations—to know that constant consumption of a single food is better than variety and rotation of foods within the Healthiest Way of Eating. But we have plenty of evidence to suggest that variety is your best bet when it comes to the World's Healthiest Foods.
The other concern about shrimp is that they do contain cholesterol. Four ounces of cooked shrimp contains about 220 milligrams of cholesterol. For some people, this isn't an issue, but for others it is. Therefore, we would suggest that while you may want to include wild shrimp or organically farmed shrimp as a healthy addition to your Healthiest Way of Eating, you might want to not include it every day. I think it is better to alternate it with other nutrient-rich protein sources such as other types of seafood or legumes/beans.
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