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Eat To Grow: Shell Shock

Surprise! Shrimp is virtually fat free, raises your good HDL cholesterol and is jam-packed with protein.

Do you almost feel your arteries clogging when TV commercials show mounds of shrimp? Ditch that misconception. While shrimp and other shellfish are high in cholesterol, they’re virtually fat free. The effect on the body? Positive, providing the shrimp doesn’t come breaded and deep-fried, brushed with butter or swimming in some rich sauce.

In a study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (64:712-717; 1996) 20 subjects were given 300 grams of shrimp per day. That’s 10 ounces of shrimp, which supplied 590 milligrams of cholesterol to their diets. The control group’s diet contained the same amount of fat but only 107 milligrams of cholesterol. The shrimp was steamed, boiled, baked or barbecued.

The results? Yes, cholesterol went up in the bloodstream in the shrimp-eating group, but it was mostly HDL cholesterol, which reduces the risk of heart disease. The LDL cholesterol increased 7.1 percent, but HDL cholesterol increased 12.1 percent. In other words, lipid profiles improved. In addition, shrimp lowered triglycerides by 13 percent.

Oh, shrimp is also rich in selenium, which has been shown to reduce cancer risk.

Bodybuilders, take note: That amount of shrimp delivers approximately 60 grams of protein to hungry muscles. IM

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