Super Food of the Week: Shrimp

Although small in size, shrimp are huge in their appeal with their deliciously clean and crisp taste. With the ability of being served hot or cold, shrimp are one of the most popular choice of seafood in the United States and are also a wonderfully nutritious alternative to meat proteins. Shrimp’s firm, translucent flesh, in raw form, is not only low in calories but low in saturated fat as well. Shrimp may be small in size but not in nutrient density. Shrimp is usually low-fat and a low-calorie protein with a four-ounce serving of shrimp providing 23.7 grams of protein. That’s about 47% of the daily value for protein all for a mere 112 calories and less than a gram of fat. Shrimp is also a very good source of vitamin D and vitamin B12.

So at this point, I can almost hear the question some of you are probably asking, “Isn’t shrimp high in cholesterol?” The truth is shrimp is very low in fat, yet it does have a high cholesterol content and some people have avoided eating shrimp because of the high cholesterol content. And here comes the next question: “Well if it’s high in cholesterol then why are you listing this as a super food?” Based on research involving shrimp and blood cholesterol levels, the avoidance of shrimp for this reason doesn’t seem justified. In a peer-reviewed scientific study, researchers looked at the effect of two diets, one which contained shrimp and the other eggs, on the cholesterol levels of people with normal lipid levels. In a randomized trial people ate either 300 grams of shrimp per day or two large eggs. The shrimp diet did raise LDL levels (bad cholesterol) by 7%, but also raised HDL levels (good cholesterol) by 12%. In contrast, the egg diet raised LDL levels by 10% and HDL levels by 7%. The results showed that the shrimp diet produced significantly lower ratios of total HDL (good) cholesterol and lower rations of LDL (bad) to HDL (good) than the egg diet. Also, the people who ate the shrimp diet showed triglyceride levels reduced by 13%, yielding some cardiovascular benefits.

In addition to the above mentioned, a four-ounce serving of shrimp will also give you about 28% of the daily value for vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is one of the nutrients needed to keep levels of homocystine, a molecule that can directly damage blood vessel walls and is considered a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, low. Added to this, shrimp are also a good source of cardio-protective omega-3 fatty acids, noted for their anti-inflammatory effects and the ability to prevent the formation of blood clots. A four-ounce serving of shrimp will provide about 14% of your daily need for these protective fats.

The omega-3 fatty acids can also provide protection against fatal heart arrhythmias. In a healthy and well-balanced diet that includes at least 10 ounce of omega-3 rich fish each week has been shown to improve the electrical properties of heart cells (what keeps the heart beating regularly), protecting the hart against fatal abnormal hearth rhythms, as suggested by a study from Greece. Authors in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that with the long term consumption of omega-3 rich fish a lower QT interval (the measure of the heart’s electrical cycle) was noted and that fish intake seems to provide anti-arrhythmic protection. Basically said, a lower QT score indicates a lower resting heart rate. A higher resting heart rate has been linked to an increased risk of sudden death and lowering the resting heart rate provides significant a health benefit.

Another interesting benefit of omega-3 rich foods is that they’ve been shown to improve mood and reduce depression. When researchers from Ohio State University evaluated blood samples taken from a study involving 43 older adults (average age 67) , they found that the participants with high ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids not only had a higher levels of various compounds involved in inflammation, but were more likely to suffer from depression. High intake of omega-6 fatty acids seemed to exacerbate the symptoms of depression thanks to cytokines. Researchers concluded that increasing the consumption of foods rich in omega-3s, while decreasing the consumption of omega-6-rich foods, can provide some protection against depression, particularly as depressive symptoms increase.

So the benefits of eating shrimp can far outweigh the risks, unless of course you have a allergy to shellfish. The protein, selenium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and omega -3, in addition to iron, vitamin B3, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, all provide wonderful benefits to the body and may also do so with your hair. Shrimp can be enjoyed lightly seasoned and grilled atop a salad of fresh greens. Some prefer cooked cold shrimp with cocktail sauce as well as salsa or within their favorite whole wheat pasta dish. Served as an appetizer, snack, or as part of the main event shrimp are sure to provide lots of great nutrients for not only your body and hair, but apparently for your mind as well.

Fit Tip of the Week: More Q and A.

Question: What are some good things a busy woman should eat through out her day to stay healthy and fit? What are some suggestions?

Answer: Well, it is hard to name very specific foods in this question because I‘m all about variety. Typically, the more variety a person has in their healthy diet, the easier it is for them to stick with healthy eating habits. So, I’m going to start off by stressing whole foods and a balanced diet, with a variety foods low in fat and calories. As far as what a balanced diet is (because that term is toss around so much), in my mind I like to think of it in the form of a flow chart working my way down from macronutrients to specific recommendations for each food group in the food pyramid. Starting with the macronutrients, most dietitians recommend that 45-65% of your daily caloric intake should come from carbohydrates (whole grains, whole fruits and veggies, and so on), 10-15% of your total caloric intake should come from protein (lean meats, beans, nuts), and less than 10% of your total daily caloric intake should come from saturated fat with healthy fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats) comprising most of the fats in your diet which around 22% for most people. I know it sounds high but a fat intake of less than 20% of total caloric intake can interfere with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Now taking this a step further into specific intakes for certain food groups I then trace my flow chart to the food pyramid. For those who may not know, the food pyramid is broken down into grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, meats and beans, and oils. If I’m looking at my macronutrients, most of my carbohydrates will come from grains, vegetables and fruits. Most of my protein intake will come from lean meats, beans, milk/dairy products, nuts. My fat intake will have a bit of a carry over depending on the type of lean meats, nuts, any oils I may use in cooking, such as olive, milk and so on, which is why low fat or fat free foods are important. All this reflects in the recommended daily amounts from each of the food groups. In general, daily recommendation for grains range from 3-8 oz, depending on gender age, and physical activity level. At least half, preferably almost all, of the servings should be whole grains. Vegetables are generally recommended at 1-3 cups a day for less active individuals, milk or dairy (of the low-fat or fat-free variety) at 2-3 cups per day depending on age. Fruit is usually recommended at 1-2 cups (usually for less active individuals). Meat (including fish) and beans are typically vary by age, gender and physical activity level and can range from 2-6 oz per day and oils (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated are emphasized) at 3-7 teaspoons per day.

Now I know these ranges seem to be a bit wide and your probably wondering how you can figure out what is right for you. Well, I’ll make it easy for you. Take a trip over to
www.mypyramid.gov. On this site, which is put together by the USDA in partnership with physicians and registered dietitians, you can get your very own personalized food pyramid with your age, gender, and physical activity taken into account. Just click on the “ My Pyramid Plan” link on the left hand side under the “Interactive Tools“ section. When your personal pyramid is generated you’ll also get some tips on how to make wise choices from each group. There is also a “My Pyramid Plan” for vegetarians as well and you can track your diet online to make sure you’re meeting your recommendations. I know all of this sounds a bit wordy but again emphasis should be placed on whole grains, whole fruits and veggies, lean meats all in moderation and in balance. There are tons of foods that you can keep on your person to snack on if you’re in a rush throughout your day, like whole grain granola bars, raisins, whole wheat crackers, multigrain rice cakes, carrot sticks, and so on. I would also suggest trying to make time for your meals as much as possible. Research has shown that when you take your time to sit down and enjoy your food you’re more cautious about what goes on your plate (and in your mouth). I’m not saying that you should become obsessive compulsive about what you’re putting in your mouth but when people are in a rush for food they typically grab whatever they can and usually whatever they can grab is not the healthiest decision. Also as a final tip, eating smaller meals during the day can help keep energy levels up. Its usually recommended that a person eat in the following sequence: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. This sequence not only helps to keep you energized but also keeps you from over eating when you do get a chance to sit for a meal. If you’re still not sure of some things you can add to your diet variety, then check my health and fitness tips every week as I highlight a food that would be a great addition to a varied healthy diet. I hope this has helped you to gain a better perspective on a some of the things you should be eating during your day. If you have any more questions (or if I’ve completely confused you) please find me over on the Curly Nikki forum.

Until next week, stay happy and healthy!

KinkySheaPT

You can find KinkyShea on the CurlFriends section of the forum.