Shrimp and broccoli, a classic combination in many Chinese dishes, is also a smart nutritional choice. Both main ingredients offer essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals and are low in fat and calories. However, heavy sauces and accompaniments can mask the flavors and add dozens of fat grams and calories, so be aware of nutritional information before you chow down.
The nutrition facts for shrimp and broccoli dishes can vary widely depending on ingredients and serving sizes. One shrimp and broccoli dish on AllRecipes.com has about 8 g fat, 180 mg cholesterol, 685 mg sodium, 160 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 3 g sugar and 34 g protein. However, a recipe from Eating Well magazine that features simpler ingredients has just 6 g fat, 172 mg cholesterol, 520 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, no sugar and 25 g protein.
The two recipes differ most notably in their calorie counts. While the AllRecipes dish of "Shrimp and Broccoli" has a whopping 865 calories per serving, the Eating Well recipe has fewer than 180 calories per serving. Each serving size is about 1 1/2 cups of food, but the big difference lies in the ingredients.
Sauces and refined grain products add the majority of calories to shrimp and broccoli dishes. The AllRecipes version uses condensed cream of broccoli soup as well as refined white rice or refined white spaghetti pasta, which each add about 200 calories per serving at minimum. The Eating Well dish features a low-calorie sauce made of clam juice or chicken broth and simple spices, and it also contains more broccoli.
It's not too tough to add health value to a shrimp and broccoli recipe when you're making it at a home. Do as Eating Well suggests and add extra vegetables, or skip a creamy sauce. Serve the dish with brown rice or whole-wheat pasta instead of a refined product. Finally, keep serving sizes small so that you can keep calorie and fat counts in check even if you do indulge in a richer version of the dish. At restaurants, request nutritional information about the food on the menu or call ahead.
In addition to the lean protein from shrimp and healthy nutrients from vegetables, MyPyramid.gov recommends eating daily servings of whole grains, fruits and nonfat dairy products. Balance those food groups with servings of shrimp and broccoli to form the healthiest, most complete meals. If you need personalized nutritional advice, talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian.