Prawns are often considered to be large-sized shrimp, although in reality the two come from different families. Still, prawns taste similar to shrimp and have a similar nutritional profile; one can stand in for the other in recipes. Including prawns in your regular diet means you get their numerous health benefits, but be careful of the high sodium and cholesterol content.
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Nutritional Profile of Prawns
Shrimp are a low-fat source of protein. A 3-ounce serving of shrimp, roughly 15 to 16 large shrimp, or approximately 8 prawns, contains 101 calories per serving, over 19 grams of protein and only 1.4 grams of total fat. A serving also contains calcium, potassium and phosphorus and is a good source of vitamins A and E.
Fats, Good and Bad
Prawns are a good source of unsaturated fat, which makes up the majority of its fat content. Unsaturated fats can help improve your blood cholesterol levels when you eat them in place of saturated or trans fats. Prawns, like other fish and shellfish, are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids -- essential fatty acids your body does not produce. Omega-3s can reduce inflammation and your risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis, as well as help with brain function. While prawns are a low-fat food and contain many healthy fats, they are also rich in cholesterol, containing 179 milligrams per 3-ounce serving. This is over half of the limit of 300 milligrams per day the American Heart Association recommends.
Despite the high cholesterol content, prawns are still a healthy alternative protein source. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends eating a minimum of 8 ounces of cooked seafood each week. Replacing other animal proteins, particularly ones, such as red meat, that are high in saturated fats, with prawns can help you lower your saturated fat intake while still meeting your protein requirements for a healthy diet. The USDA recommends moderately active adults eat 5 to 6 1/2 ounces of protein per day.
While prawns are a healthy food choice in general, they are also naturally high in sodium. A 3-ounce serving of prawns has 805 milligrams of sodium. A diet high in sodium can increase the risk of hypertension, heart disease and osteoporosis. The recommended upper intake limit for sodium is 2,300 milligrams for adults, and 1,500 milligrams for adults who have a history of heart disease, who are African American or who are age 51 or older. Because a single teaspoon of salt has 2,000 milligrams of sodium, be careful of added salt if you are eating prawns, as even a little extra can put you over the daily recommended limit.