Prawns are small, aquatic crustaceans. Before consuming them, one must break them apart into the head, thorax, and belly parts and remove their exoskeleton.
One can find prawns in warm and cold bodies of water, with those from hard water typically smaller. There are many species of prawns, and one can use the term to refer to giant shrimp that weigh 15 pounds or less, such as “king prawns”. Many of these are farmed for human consumption.
At one point, experts warned people with heart disease or high cholesterol levels to stay away from prawns. However, research has shown that prawns are low in saturated fat and naturally contain cholesterol, so eating them will not necessarily increase LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). Therefore, nutritionists suggest including prawns in a healthy and balanced diet.
Nutrition Values of Prawns
According to the USDA, here’s an estimate of the nutrients in a 100g serving of prawns:
- Energy: 146kCal
- Protein: 15.5g
- Fats: 6.6g
- Calcium: 64mg
- Iron: 0.53mg
- Sodium: 348mg
- Phosphorus: 273mg
- Potassium: 131mg
- Selenium: 33.3µg
- Folate: 24µg
- Cholesterol: 140mg
Looking at the nutritional value of prawns, people may think that with such a high amount of cholesterol, prawns would raise one’s cholesterol levels. However, it is not always true.
Certain meals may contain cholesterol, but this does not always negatively affect blood cholesterol levels. However, it is only accurate when you eat them in moderation and when prepared healthily..
Prawns and Their Effect on Cholesterol
The body needs cholesterol for digestion and the production of hormones, and it can produce enough to sustain these processes. Therefore, eating meals high in cholesterol may potentially increase your risk of developing health problems.
Despite their high cholesterol content, prawns are still healthy and can be part of a healthy and low cholesterol diet. Unfortunately, there is a common misconception that high-cholesterol foods will cause an increase in bad blood cholesterol (LDL) levels and heart disease, leading many people to avoid them.
Research has shown that only 25% of people are susceptible to dietary cholesterol. It means that for most people, dietary cholesterol may not affect their blood cholesterol levels. However, consuming meals high in cholesterol can reduce the cholesterol produced by the liver, which is responsible for most cholesterol in the blood.
Although prawn meat contains a large amount of cholesterol, research indicates that it is also a great source of many other essential nutrients. These include proteins, bioactive peptides, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and minerals, which help reduce cholesterol absorption and benefit overall health.
The HealthifyMe Note
According to studies, while significantly increasing your prawn consumption does result in minor increases in LDL or “bad” cholesterol, it also, and more critically, results in a rise in HDL or “good” cholesterol levels. Moreover, these improvements in HDL levels are noticeably more significant than the increases in LDL levels, indicating that prawns’ favourable fat ratios don’t generally raise the risk of heart disease.
Benefits of Eating Prawns
- Prawns are nutrient-rich as they include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin E, and other vitamins and minerals. In addition, they are rich in niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamins B12 and B6. Additionally, they contain a lot of iron, which promotes the growth of red blood cells.
- Prawns are rich in protein. A diet heavy in protein helps you feel fuller for longer and increases energy.
- Prawns are a great source of selenium, iodine, and zinc, among other trace minerals. While selenium and zinc support the immune system, iodine is necessary to maintain thyroid gland function.
- Prawns contain a lot of vitamin E, which supports skin health.
The HealthifyMe Note
No matter how high a person’s cholesterol is, doctors now believe that most individuals may safely consume prawns. Prawns can supply a variety of vital nutrients when consumed in moderation. Connect with one of our coaches at HealthifyMe if you wish to follow a cholesterol-lowering diet as per a doctor’s advice. Discuss with expert nutritionists which meals would be the best choice regarding your cholesterol intake.
Prawns are generally a healthy food choice and can benefit cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that eating prawns can help reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and increase good cholesterol (HDL) levels, positively affecting overall cholesterol levels. In addition, prawns are low in fat and calories yet high in protein and other essential vitamins and minerals.
For people with a healthy lifestyle, moderate consumption of prawns can be beneficial. However, it is vital to note that prawns are still high in cholesterol, and one must consume them in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. How much cholesterol is in a prawn?
A: Prawns are a great source of lean protein and are relatively low in cholesterol. Depending on the size, a 100g serving of prawns can contain between 55-75mg of cholesterol. It is much lower than other animal proteins, such as beef and pork, which can have over 100mg per 100g serving. Furthermore, prawns are a good source of unsaturated fats, which can help to reduce levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. Therefore, prawns are an excellent option for those looking to reduce their cholesterol levels.
Q. Who should avoid prawns?
A: People allergic to shellfish or crustaceans should avoid eating prawns. People with certain medical conditions, such as weakened immune systems, should avoid eating prawns. Pregnant women should also avoid eating prawns due to their potential risk of foodborne illness. Lastly, people following a low-sodium diet should also avoid eating prawns, as they tend to be high in sodium.
Q. Are prawns OK for the heart?
A: Prawns are an excellent choice for the heart due to their high omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce inflammation and improve heart health. They are also a good source of protein and low in calories, making them an excellent choice for those looking to lose or maintain weight. Additionally, prawns are rich in vitamin B12 and selenium, which benefit the cardiovascular system. They also contain low saturated fats, making them a healthy choice for those looking to lower their cholesterol levels.
Q. Can prawns increase high blood pressure?
A: Prawns have many health benefits but can also increase high blood pressure. It is due to the high sodium content in prawns, as sodium is known to raise blood pressure. In addition, prawns contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can also contribute to high blood pressure. Therefore, those with high blood pressure should avoid overeating prawns and opt for healthier, low-sodium seafood options. Speaking to a doctor to determine the best dietary changes to make if high blood pressure is an issue is crucial.
The Supporting Sources
1. Jones, W. & Wong, Max & Lowe, Gordon & Davies, Ian & Isherwood, C. & Griffin, Bruce. (2010). The effect of prawn consumption on lipoprotein subclasses in healthy males. Proceedings of The Nutrition Society – PROC NUTR SOC-ENGL SCOT. 69. 10.1017/S0029665109992849.
2. U S Department of Agriculture. Shrimp, NFS
3. Berger S, Raman G, Vishwanathan R, Jacques PF, Johnson EJ. Dietary cholesterol and cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Aug;102(2):276-94. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.100305. Epub 2015 Jun 24. PMID: 26109578.
4. Menon, V. & Gopakumar, Kumarapanicker. (2017). Shellfish: Nutritive Value, Health Benefits, and Consumer Safety. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 16. 10.1111/1541-4337.12312.
5. Soliman, G.A. Dietary Cholesterol and the Lack of Evidence in Cardiovascular Disease. Nutrients 2018, 10, 780.
6. De Oliveira e Silva ER, Seidman CE, Tian JJ, Hudgins LC, Sacks FM, Breslow JL. Effects of shrimp consumption on plasma lipoproteins. Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 Nov;64(5):712-7. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/64.5.712. PMID: 8901790.
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