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The health benefits of eating prawns

The definition of prawn depends largely on where you live. Technically speaking, prawns are only found in fresh or brackish water where shrimp are totally salt water dwellers. 

Nutritionally and health-wise, shrimp and prawns are similar enough to be used interchangeably.

When it comes to taste, true prawns tend to be a slight bit sweeter than shrimp. This doesn’t really affect the cooking methods or times, other than prawns tend to be larger. They do take longer to cook than most shrimp.

Are prawns low carb?

If you are on a low carb diet, prawns are a friend. They have point one carb per serving, and that carb is fiber oriented. 

Given that other animal proteins on this type of diet tend to be high fat and low carb, this is a good source of protein.

The nutritional value of prawns is also high. They contain B vitamins, including thiamine. They have several minerals, such as calcium, zinc and selenium. 

They are also high in Vitamin E, which is good for every organ in the body. 

Are prawns a superfood?

The answer to that question depends largely on who you ask and where, specifically, the prawns come from. 

Many consider prawns from Queensland, Australia to be a superfood. There is a lot to say for prawns nutritional value.

Let’s define superfood first. A superfood needs to be high in nutritional content, particularly those help ward off certain diseases. 

The prawn nutritional value places a large check mark here. We can start with cardiovascular disease.

By now, almost everyone has heard that crustaceans have a lot of cholesterol. Many think that makes them off the diet of anyone who has or is at risk for cardiovascular disease. 

Not so fast. Prawns have Omega-3 fatty acids, which helps to raise good cholesterol.

Studies have been done on whether or not prawns can actually help cholesterol. One study showed that while LDL cholesterol was raised slightly by regular consumption, the HDL levels were significantly higher. That offset any rise in LDL (bad) cholesterol.

It’s also been thought that prawns and shrimp could lead to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. 

If you’ve ever eaten cooked prawns, you may have noticed the red pigment in them. They tend to turn slightly pink.

That red pigment is called Astaxanthin. Studies on this substance have shown that it has the exact opposite effect. Instead of causing hardening of the arteries, it in fact helps to prevent it. This is a godsend to anyone who is at risk from this condition.

A superfood can’t have unhealthy attributes. That’s debatable with prawns and shrimp. However, the studies mentioned above, plus the lower amount of fat and the quality of the protein gives prawns another check mark in the superfood category.

But what about vitamins and minerals? Aren’t superfoods supposed to be packed with them? We can check that one, also. Three vitamins and seven minerals are found in a serving of prawns. Some of the minerals are harder to get than others.

Iron, copper and selenium are all minerals that we may not get enough of in our diets. While going overboard on them can create many problems, we need small amounts of the latter two and larger amounts of iron.

So, the answer to the superfood question is yes. They are nutritionally dense, healthy and address at least one major health concern. Eaten in conjunction with a healthy diet, they make a fine addition.

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Wow! A superfood! How much can I eat?

Slow down. Nutrition is a cross medical study, and it includes master herbalists. Those of us who deal with nutrition on a daily basis we come across people who pack their diets with only superfoods. This is not nutritionally sound.

The American Heart Association recommends two servings of non-fried fish/shellfish per week. 

They define a serving as three and a half ounces. The answer to the question, in amounts, is about seven ounces per week.

Please to note that this can’t be deep fat fried. It can be sautéed in a healthy oil, but breaded, fried prawns are not going to be a superfood. 

The process of deep fat frying makes them unhealthy at any time and particularly for heart health.

So, how do I eat them to be healthy?

There are a lot of ways to cook prawns and even more ideas for how to eat them. They make excellent skewering items, and can be paired with both fruits and vegetables. These can be cooked in an air fryer, in an oven or on the grill.

One item often picked to go on a skewer with prawns is pineapple chunks. This adds more layers of nutritional value to prawns. Seasonings can also be used, even on the grill. 

Those you choose will enhance both the nutritional value and the flavor components.

Another beloved way to eat prawns is in seafood paella. Tomatoes, brown rice and other healthy foods can be added to the dish, creating a wealth of healthy eating. Paella tends to be spicy, although it can be made with fewer spices.

Those who are watching carbs may want to choose a prawn avocado lettuce wrap. If carbs are no problem, wrap it all in a corn tortilla to add some whole grains to the dish. The prawns for this can be air fried, baked or cooked in a small amount of olive oil.


What if I don’t have access to prawns?

While shrimp and prawns are genetically different, there is very little nutritional difference. In fact, when searching on the U.S. National Library of Health websites, they tend to be used interchangeably by researchers.

If you can’t find prawns, use shrimp. The only difference is in taste. Prawns, as mentioned, tend to be a slight bit sweeter. When added to a dish, this difference will hardly be noticed.

In some areas of the world, another problem exists. This has improved as shipping has improved, but there are areas that don’t have a lot of access to seafood. 

Here, frozen prawns and shrimp are more the norm and they may be hard to find.

This is remedied not only by but also by many meal kit delivery boxes. Everyplate and Hellofresh both offer meal kits with shrimp. 

Having ordered from the former, the shrimp was, indeed, still frozen when it arrived at our home.

When shouldn’t I eat prawns?

The most obvious reason to skip prawns would be shellfish allergy. This can appear as simply as a rash after consuming them or it could go into full-blown anaphylactic shock. The latter is deadly. If an allergic reaction occurs, get tested to find the source.

Pregnant women can eat prawns, as long as they are fully cooked. Undercooked or raw prawns can carry bacteria and other things that can cause food poisoning and potentially harm the baby. 

If you’ve been told that all seafood should be avoided during pregnancy, you’ve been told a whopper. 

There are some fish that should be avoided. Foods like fresh tuna, shark and swordfish are high in mercury. Those are ones to avoid.

Prawns, shrimp and other seafood low in mercury can still be eaten, and is encouraged. However, stick to the two servings a week rule. 

There is still some mercury involved. You can also eat these fish during lactation.

There are no known medication interactions with shrimp, although those on warfarin should avoid eating large quantities. 

Potassium, AKA Vitamin K, is produced in the liver. It is what helps blood clot. Warfarin reduces the amount of potassium created in the liver. 

Small amounts of shrimp are all right. However, larger amounts could encourage clots. 

If that happens, deep vein thrombosis is possible and it can have devastating results. This includes loss of limbs and loss of life.

When can baby eat shrimp?

That’s another very good question. While some of what is in shrimp will pass through breast milk to the child, doctors don’t recommend that babies eat it. At the age of seven months, regular fish can be added to the diet.

Doctors believe that shellfish should not be added until a child is at least one year old. Some think that’s too young. 

To find out at what age you should start your child on seafood, talk to your child’s pediatrician. He or she will have the latest guidelines.


Can I develop an allergy?

Let’s say you’ve eaten shellfish all your life. All of a sudden, after eating a routine dinner with shellfish, you have symptoms of an allergic reaction. Can it be real?

The answer is absolutely. Anyone can develop an allergy to anything over time. It’s not just shellfish. 

Strawberries, chocolate and even eggs can move into an allergy. For those who consume cow’s milk, that can also be a problem.

If you think you are having an allergic reaction to any food, it’s best to see the doctor. Bring a list of what you’ve eaten so that things can be ruled out. 

As an example, shellfish can be served in a milk base. It could be shellfish or the casein in milk. (3) (4) (5)


Necessary information

The USFDA is very fussy about health claims for any food outside of the humble oat. It does not approve of any health claims made for any other food. The studies mentioned are published on and other National Library of Health websites.

When starting a new diet of any sort, always talk to your doctor and your pharmacist. 

Low carb diets aren’t the only ones that may need close medical monitoring. However, keep in mind that if you are on a low carb diet, it does require it.

If you are in your first pregnancy or your first round of breastfeeding, consult your doctor about your nutritional needs. You may be referred to a nutritionist or dietician to help you cover all the bases. Your needs differ, both in pregnancy and during lactation.

Introducing children to new foods is a delicate procedure. Shrimp has a relatively bland taste, but it does take more effort to chew, so those with no teeth will need it cut up or even minced. They also don’t always have the words to say if it makes them feel ill.

An example of this comes from my family. One of a child’s first fruits is the banana. However, one of us is allergic to bananas. It causes some serious gastric issues and even the leaves can cause problems. This was found out when bananas were tried for the first time… oh the screams.

Those who are on a renal diet may have to avoid shrimp because they are high in protein. The kidneys break down the acids created from digesting protein. With kidney disease, they can’t do this as well and it causes further damage. 

Where you source both prawns and shrimp is important. had a good article on that as well as safe handling and cooking suggestions. It would be wise to read an article if this type to make sure that your source is good.

The reason for problems is that some farmed shrimp, particularly from countries like China, may have illegal antibiotics and all kinds of other nasty stuff in them. Locally sourced is always best, but if that’s not possible, make sure you do know the source.

This isn’t as easy as it seems. Prepackaged shrimp may have deceptive labeling. Those who are selling it may not know the original source. This is particularly true in a chain grocery store. 

For your safety, do not consume raw prawns… no matter its source. Sushi is fine for those who like it, but raw crustaceans should not be consumed that way.

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