How to Eat Shrimp and Scallops as Part of a Low-Cholesterol Diet

shrimp and scallop
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Have you been avoiding scallops and shrimp because you thought they were off-limits in a cholesterol-lowering diet? Well, here is welcome news for seafood lovers.

This Seafood Is Heart-Healthy

Both shrimp and scallops are excellent sources of heart-healthy nutrients and do not appear to contribute to heart disease or high cholesterol. Both can be included in the American Heart Association recommendation of two fish servings per week.

Scallops as a Meat Alternative

Scallops are a heart-healthy alternative to meat as a main dish. Scallops are a bivalve marine mollusk with a beautiful shell, edible muscle, and roe.

They are low in calories and saturated fat and are an excellent source of the nutrients vitamin B12, omega-3 fats, potassium, and magnesium.

Shrimp as a Meat Alternative

Shrimp are another heart-healthy alternative to meat as a main dish. Shrimp come in a variety of sizes and types. Although there are more than 300 varieties of shrimp, the most popular types are the brown, pink, and white shrimp from the Atlantic ocean. These common names refer to the general color of the shrimp before cooking.

They are low in calories, saturated fat and total fat, and are a good source of the nutrients protein, B12, and vitamin D. Although shrimp was once believed to contribute to high cholesterol, it is now considered part of a heart-healthy diet by nutrition experts. So enjoy.

When shopping for shrimp, look for transparent flesh (avoid cloudy shrimp) with a sweet scent that smells like fresh sea water. If it smells fishy or reminiscent of ammonia or bleach, run far away! Shrimp perish quickly, so, unless you live near a thriving shrimp business, purchase shrimp frozen.

Preparation Tips

Scallops and shrimp pair well with fresh dill, garlic, tarragon, parsley, lemon, freshly grated ginger, and/or olive oil. Heart-smart preparations include stir-frying, grilling, pan frying, searing, sautéeing, or baking.

Shrimp and Scallops Are Low in Mercury

Mercury poisoning from eating seafood is real. If you eat fish known as containing high levels of mercury, it should be consumed rarely (say twice per month at most), but fish containing low levels of mercury can be enjoyed on a regular basis. The United States FDA and EPA departments have declared the following fish and shellfish to be safe for regular consumption: 

  • Anchovies
  • Atlantic Mackerel
  • Catfish
  • Clams
  • Crab
  • Crawfish
  • Freshwater Trout
  • Haddock
  • Herring
  • Oysters
  • Pollock
  • Salmon
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp
  • Tilapia
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Article Sources
  • 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;64(5):712-7. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/64.5.712