Making healthy dietary choices can be challenging, but it is even more so when you have diabetes. While some kinds of seafood are great for diabetics, there are still concerns about the safety of shrimp for people with diabetes. 

Shrimp stands out for its low-calorie, low-carb, and high-protein content, making it a potentially beneficial choice for people with diabetes. According to the USDA, a 4-oz serving of shrimp contains 120 calories and 23 grams of protein, offering a satisfying and nutrient-dense option.

It's noteworthy, however, that shrimp contains relatively high amounts of cholesterol, with 170 mg per serving. This may raise concerns for people with diabetes who are also managing cholesterol levels. But that doesn't mean shrimps are off-limits for diabetics. A 2015 review and meta-analysis highlighted that while elevated total dietary cholesterol can increase the risk for heart disease, shrimp can still be a healthy option when consumed as part of a nutritious diet, including lean or plant-based proteins.

Key Facts

  • Shrimp can be a low-calorie, high-protein option for individuals with diabetes. While it contains higher cholesterol levels than some seafood, current research suggests it can still be part of a healthy diet when balanced with lean or plant-based protein sources.
  • A 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of cooked shrimp contains just 0.2 g of carbohydrates and 0 g of sugar, so they won't affect blood glucose levels.
  • People with type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease often have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Decreased omega-3 fatty acid levels have also been associated with increased insulin resistance. Hence, the Omega-3 fatty acid in shrimps can benefit people with diabetes.

Can Diabetics Eat Shrimp?

Yes, people with diabetes can eat shrimp without any problems. It contains even nearly zero carbohydrates and no sugar. It won't affect your blood glucose levels. Therefore, a great addition to your diabetes diet.

Ensure the shrimp is cooked or prepared in a dish like a wok in its original state. If you batter and deep fry the shrimp, it will be higher in fats and carbs. When you deep fry shrimp, the cooking oil penetrates its flesh, which is unsuitable for those with heart disease and diabetes.

The nutritional value of seafood is dependent on how it is cooked.

The Shrimp Glycemic Index

The glycemic index measures how a particular food will affect our blood sugar levels.

The glycemic index (G.I.) and G.I. load of shrimp are 0 because they contain no carbohydrates. Eating shrimp will help you stabilize blood sugar levels.

The Shrimp Nutritional Profile

Let's start by examining the straightforward nutritional value of a typical serving of cooked shrimp that has only either been boiled, broiled, or grilled.

  • Protein - 20.35 g
  • Carbohydrate - 0.88 g
  • Fiber - 0 g
  • Sugar - 0 g
  • Cholesterol - 150 g
  • Calories- 70 kcal 
  • Fat- 0.9grams
  • Iodine-13 mcg
  • Iron-1 milligram
  • Salt 1-47 grams
  • Selenium-30 mcg
  • Zinc -1 milligram 

The nutritional profile above shows that shrimps are high in protein, low in fat, don't raise blood cholesterol levels, have almost no carbs, and, most importantly, have less sugar. Although shrimp contains more cholesterol than most fish, dietary cholesterol has little to no effect on blood cholesterol.

What Are The Health Benefits of Eating Shrimp?

Eating shrimp has many benefits, especially if you're a diabetic. Some of these benefits are:

What Are The Health Benefits Of Eating Shrimp?

1. Protein

It contains a good amount of protein that regulates your blood sugar levels and stabilizes insulin levels. High Protein Content Shrimp has 23 grams of protein per 100g serving, so it's ideal for diabetics who need extra energy from enough proteins.

2. Low in Carbs and Sugar

Shrimp is low in carbs and sugars, which makes it a healthy food choice for diabetics to eat.

3. Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Eating seafood like shrimp help in managing diabetic health and helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, strokes, and other diseases that affect those with diabetes, such as kidney failure and eye problems. Overall it's a great food for your heart health.

4. Rich Source of Omega-3

Shrimp are a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help regulate blood sugar levels. They also help reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels and help with brain function, the nervous system, the growth development of fetuses during pregnancy, your eyesight, and overall general health!

5. High in Vitamin B12

Shrimp are high in vitamin B12, which helps us by reducing our homocysteine levels. If you have a heart condition, we must keep these down, so shrimp is also great!

6. High Potassium Content

This food has a good amount of potassium which keeps our body healthy and regulates electrolytes within the cells. This means your muscles work properly without cramping up or getting tired easily due to a lack of potassium, so they can last longer when exercising.

How Should Diabetics Consume Shrimp?

Naturally, if they are prepared and cooked improperly, even the healthiest foods in the world can become unhealthy options.

A few guidelines must be followed, and techniques must be avoided to maintain good health and ensure that the way shrimp are prepared will benefit general health rather than put it at risk.

Here is some advice on how to enjoy shrimp to its fullest, as recommended by regulatory organizations like the American Diabetes Association:

  • Eat only fresh prawns that haven't gone through any processing, such as canning, as much as possible. Most fish and shellfish products are canned, which exposes them to several outside factors, including preservatives and other chemicals. Over time, this can significantly degrade the quality of the food and deplete it of part of its nutritious content. This indicates that it does not meet your nutritional demands.
  • Avoid deep-frying fish or using unhealthy breading or crumbs on it. Fish that has been breaded and fried has significantly higher levels of fat and cholesterol, and eating it in this manner virtually removes any health benefits that you could otherwise obtain from the omega-3 fatty acids. 
  • Vegetables are a rich source of all the nutrients your body needs to function properly, and combining them with seafood is an easy way to make a lunch or dinner that is considered healthy for diabetes and blood glucose levels in particular.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should You Eat Fish Per Week?

Consuming fish 2-3 times per week is generally recommended for maximum health benefits. Fish, including shellfish like shrimp, are excellent sources of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which help promote heart health, reduce inflammation, and support overall well-being.

Incorporating fish into a diabetic diet can help manage blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications. However, it is essential to choose fish and seafood that are low in mercury, such as salmon, sardines, and shrimp.

Does seafood spike insulin?

Seafood does not typically spike insulin levels, as it primarily comprises protein and healthy fats, which have minimal effects on blood sugar.

However, certain preparations, such as breaded or fried seafood, can cause insulin level spikes due to the added carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. To maintain stable insulin levels, consuming seafood in its most natural form, like grilled, steamed, or baked, and avoiding added sugars or processed ingredients is crucial.

What Seafood Is Beneficial for Diabetes?

For individuals with diabetes, choosing seafood options that offer health benefits without negatively impacting blood sugar levels is essential.

Fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring, are particularly beneficial due to their high omega-3 fatty acid content, which helps improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation.

Shellfish, like shrimp and scallops, are also excellent choices as they are low in fat and rich in lean protein. However, it is vital to be mindful of portion sizes and preparation methods, as overconsumption or unhealthy cooking techniques can negate the benefits of these nutritious seafood options.

Is mercury contamination a concern?

You may have read or heard that mercury contamination makes eating shellfish and some other fish dangerous. Mercury is present in all seafood; however, it is mostly traced with minimally damaging consequences for persons without dietary restrictions or diabetes.

The FDA and EPA suggest that most individuals can safely eat fish and seafood foods routinely as long as they limit their intake to 12 ounces per week. There is a low danger of mercury contamination. You may have heard that pregnant ladies, expectant mothers, nursing mothers, and small children should heed the warnings.

Conclusion

Shrimp can be a healthy addition to a diabetes-friendly diet due to its high protein content, low carbohydrate profile, and abundance of essential nutrients. Its zero Glycemic Index score further highlights why people with diabetes can enjoy it as part of a healthy diet. However, due to its cholesterol content and possible traces of mercury, it is crucial to consume shrimp in moderation. 

Sources

At Diabetic Me, we are committed to delivering information that is precise, accurate, and pertinent. Our articles are supported by verified data from research papers, prestigious organizations, academic institutions, and medical associations to guarantee the integrity and relevance of the information we provide. You can learn more about our process and team on the about us page.

  1. American Diabetes Association Protein
  2. U.S. Food & Drug Administration Seafood
  3. Southern Shrimp Alliance FDA and EPA advice
  4. National Library of Medicine Dietary cholesterol and cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  5. National Library of Medicine Serum phospholipid omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  6. Frontiers Omega-3FAs Can Inhibit the Inflammation and Insulin Resistance of Adipose Tissue Caused by HHcy Induced Lipids Profile Changing in Mice

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About the Author

Inez Briand

Inez Briand is the partner of a type 1 diabetic (Ely). She has always been interested in traveling and cooking, and now that she has a partner with diabetes, her interest in cooking even more healthily has skyrocketed. She loves finding new recipes for her partner and family and sharing any food and nutrition-related articles on Diabetic & Me.

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