Although they are a source of nutrients with few calories, a large consumption of prawns can cause health problems.

Shrimp Scampi.

The holidays begin and the choice of many people is go to rest in coastal areas. Despite the Covid passport, forecasts suggest that national tourism will once again be preferred among Spaniards. Specifically, it is estimated that it will account for 77% of the total influx of tourists in Spain, according to the Tourist Barometer prepared by the Braintrust consultancy.

There are not nothing more characteristic of the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts than the beach bars. The site where the main gastronomic rituals of many Spanish families will take place this summer. It is time to rest, but sometimes, that healthy ‘sloppiness’ can be extended to things such as eating habits, adding some foods to the diet more regularly than the rest of the year.

One of these foods are prawns, a crustacean similar to shrimp but smaller. This animal has a thin exoskeleton that is removed for its ingestion, and, in terms of its habitats, it is found in almost all parts of the world, both fresh and salt water.

In the film Forrest GumpBenjamin Buford ‘Bubba’ Blue was in charge of listing each and every one of the existing recipes that can be made with prawns, and here lies another of the keys to its benefits and contraindications. “Obviously they are healthier grilled than battered or fried”, Indicates María del Mar Silva, nutritionist, specialist in digestive system disorders.

Its inclusion in the Mediterranean diet has caused a debate in which many nutritionists disagree. For example, some experts such as Ana Luzón, a doctor and nutritionist, point out that “As protein of animal origin, it can be consumed without problem every day“.

For his part, Silva, points out that “shellfish can raise blood uric acid levels if eaten in excess. So its daily consumption is not recommended in people with hyperuricemia, that is, with high levels of this compound ”.

Health benefits

About 100 grams of prawns contain about 70 calories. They are composed in 85% water, with 15 grams of protein and less than one gram of fat, saturated and unsaturated. So far all are positive values ​​accompanied by its good nutritional profile. These crustaceans are rich in vitamin B, necessary for obtaining energy from food. Also in calcium and iron, key to blood clotting.

They are also a source of selenium, linked to the proper functioning of the immune and reproductive system. They also contribute to thyroid health, as revealed by a study carried out by a researcher at the Institute for Experimental Endocrinology, at the Charité University Hospital in Berlin, Germany.

The data presented reveal that selenium status is altered by benign and malignant thyroid diseases. So selenium compounds have been used positively to prevent or treat generalized diseases such as goiter, autoimmune thyroid disease, or thyroid cancer.

Although they are not as rich in omega-3s as a salmon fillet, prawns contain docosahexaenoic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid essential for brain development, made up of more than 60% fat. This is why your regular intake provides a solid dose of fat.

They also have among their nutrients copper and especially zinc, between 5 and 6 milligrams per 100, an amount similar to that of red meat. In this way, they contribute to the production of collagen and hemoglobin, which accelerate the body’s healing process.

Health risks

Shellfish such as prawns, apart from beneficial substances for the body, can provide toxic substances such as methylmercury, according to data from a study carried out by a scientist from the Exposure Policy, Coordination and Evaluation Division of the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Among the health effects that its prolonged intake may entail, are the negative impact on cognitive development (in fetuses and newborn children) and in adults, an increased risk of cardiovascular disorders and heart disease. This is explained in a review carried out by Spanish researchers from different hospital centers.

Due to the morphology of prawns, the area that stores the most toxin is the head, so it is recommended not to suck this part of the animal’s body, which in addition to methylmercury, it may contain cadmium. Substance that tends to accumulate in the liver and kidney for 10 to 30 years, according to the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (Aesan). In the document they point out that it can cause kidney dysfunction and bone demineralization. They also mention some indications that link it with the appearance of some types of cancer.

Silva recommends limiting the intake of this type of shellfish in people with hyperuricemia, replacing it with white fish, much healthier in these cases. “Anyway, I don’t advise eating shrimp every day. The human being is omnivorous, so it is necessary to eat different foods to reach an optimal nutritional level ”, says the expert.