Grilling up shrimp is a low-calorie way to add plenty of protein to your diet. They're very low in fat and have several vitamins and minerals to offer. But before lathering on that oil while you're waiting for the grill to warm up, you might want to think again. Cooking shrimp with oil adds way more calories and fat than you might realize.
For around 44 to 52 calories, you can have eight grilled shrimp -- weighing about 45 grams after cooking. Protein is the greatest source of calories in shrimp. You'll get roughly 10 to 10.5 grams of protein from eight grilled shrimp, adding up to as much as 95 percent of the total calories. The final small percentage of calories come from less than a gram of carbohydrate and less than a gram of fat.
Saturated Fat and Cholesterol
Shrimp are relatively high in cholesterol, although that doesn't necessarily mean you have to avoid them. Too much cholesterol in your diet can elevate your blood cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease. A serving of eight grilled shrimp contain roughly 83 to 93 milligrams of cholesterol -- more than one-fourth of the 300 milligrams you can have each day. However, health problems are most likely to occur when you also have a lot of saturated fat in your diet, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 states. Shrimp is naturally low in saturated fat, providing less than 0.3 milligram from eight grilled shrimp. Since up to 10 percent of your calories can come from saturated fat -- 22 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet -- this serving of shrimp takes up less than 2 percent of your daily allotment.
Details on Micronutrients
Not only are grilled shrimp incredibly lean and low in calories, they'll also provide you with several types of vitamins and minerals. You'll get small amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B-6 and folate, as well as over one-third of your B-12 needs from eight grilled shrimp. These B vitamins run your metabolism, support healthy blood and power your brain. To protect your eyes and keep your vision at its peak, you'll also get a little vitamin A from your grilled entrée. The most prominent minerals in shrimp are bone-building calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, although you'll only get small amounts. You'll even get a minor quantity of the electrolytes, sodium and potassium, minerals that keep your heart beating and make your muscles move.
If you layer oil onto your shrimp to prevent sticking, you'll pack on a high amount of fat and calories. Just 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil has nearly 125 calories, which all come from the 14 grams of fat. It is important to note, however, that most vegetable oils, including olive oil, are high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which are considered healthy fats that help protect your heart. If you'd prefer a lower-calorie alternative, use nonstick cooking spray. It will still eliminate any problems with the shrimp sticking to the grill, but it only has a trace amount of calories and virtually no fat.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Crustaceans, Shrimp, Mixed Species, Cooked, Moist Heat
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Crustaceans, Shrimp, Untreated, Cooked
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Oil, Vegetable, Natreon Canola, High Stability, Non Trans, High Oleic (70%)
- Harvard Medical School: Listing of Vitamins
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Oil, Pam Cooking Spray, Original