Americans love shrimp in any form -- kebabs, stir-fry and shrimp cocktail are all classic favorites. Although the curled pink seafood is low-fat and an excellent source of protein, it is also an extremely high-cholesterol food. A 10-ounce serving of steamed shrimp packs a whopping 590 milligrams of cholesterol -- almost double the American Heart Association's recommended limit of 300 milligrams per day. Although the reason is not well understood, the cholesterol in shrimp does not seem to cause problems for healthy individuals and can be enjoyed in moderation.
A study conducted by researchers from Rockefeller University and Harvard School of Public Health and published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that shrimp does not negatively impact the lipoprotein profile of healthy individuals. The study findings showed that eating shrimp did not increase levels of damaging VLDL cholesterol; it also lowered unhealthy triglyceride levels and the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol and LDL to HDL cholesterol compared to an egg or low-fat baseline diet. Although the shrimp diet increased levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, the increase in "good" HDL cholesterol was proportionate enough to offset any ill effects.
Shrimp can be part of a heart-healthy diet if it is prepared correctly. Avoid fried shrimp and creamy, high-fat sauces and opt for steamed, baked or grilled shrimp instead. If you are battling high cholesterol, talk to your physician before including shrimp in your diet.