Shrimps Are Good for You

      September 15, 2006 19:32

      Marine shrimps: many love them, but not everybody trusts them. Now they are in season, the Chosun Ilbo clarifies any suspicions gourmet readers may entertain.

      ◆ Are Shrimps Cholesterol Bombs?

      Shrimps do have a fairly high cholesterol level. Giant prawns, which are some 20 cm long, have 296 mg cholesterol per 100 g, and medium-sized or tiger prawns measuring some 10 cm long have 159.0 mg per 100 g. But considering the "shrimp intake" per person at a time, the level is not that high. Three medium prawns have 55.7 mg of cholesterol, so when you eat 10 of them, that is only 167 mg -- close to the 166.3 mg that you get from an egg. In addition, shrimps have plenty of taurine, which prevents cholesterol from increasing.

      "Many people avoid shrimps because of their cholesterol, but the latest theories say that their cholesterol level is not high enough to have any negative impact on the human body," says Prof. Kim So-mi of the Department of Culinary Art at Dong-Pusan College.

      ◆ Does Eating Shrimps Whole Reduce Cholesterol?

      The claim seems to have come from the fact that shrimp shells consist of chitin, which is known to curb the cholesterol level in the blood and prevent cancer, constipation and improve the metabolism. "Even though you make the extra efforts to eat shrimp shells, it is not sure whether they can be broken down and absorbed in the digestive tract and utilized effectively," Kim says.

      ◆ Should You Eat Shrimp Heads for Your Health?

      The heads have lots of chitin but the problem, again, is that it is rarely absorbed into the body. Eating shrimp heads, however, does you good because they contain other good ingredients. Shrimp brains, testis, liver and ovum have plenty of good-quality protein. In addition, shrimps provide such critical nutritional values as calcium, phosphorus, iodine and iron; hence the common belief that they are good for stamina.

      ◆ What Is the Best Way to Enjoy Shrimps?

      Shrimps taste good no matter what cooking method you use, but it is important to remember that their internal organs are rich in nutrients and it is good to eat them whole. If you're worried about cholesterol, it is better to eat them steamed or baked rather than fried. The reason shrimps taste sweet is that they contain a whole variety of essential amino acids. Among them, glycine plays a major role, and its level reaches its peak between fall and winter. This is why people say shrimps taste best in the fall. Betaine, taurine, florin, alanine and arginine also contribute to the unique flavor.

      When you handle shrimps, rinse them softly in salt water. To remove their internal organs, bend their back and put a toothpick into the second joint and remove the black strip that comes out, which is their internal organ. It tastes bitter, but not if it is green or yellow. The pointed shell right above the tail has water inside and needs to remove it. The dark red moisture in the tail can be completely removed by scraping the tail with the point of a knife on a chopping board.

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