Is it better to eat raw, boiled, or fried shrimp?

The nutritional characteristics of shrimp, lead us to ask ourselves: how should it be consumed, preferably, to take full advantage of its nutritional benefits?

Is it better to eat raw, boiled, or fried shrimp?
Consumption and health: Are raw, boiled or fried shrimp better to eat? Photo by Erik Mclean / Unsplash

Shrimp consumption in Mexico is growing year after year. According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the National Commission of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the catch and exploitation of shrimp have exceeded 227 thousand tons, making it the most economically important crustacean.

This could be because, in addition to its particular flavor, it is recognized as nutritious food, due to its low caloric and lipid value, as well as its important protein content, in addition to being rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants compounds.

Shrimp is present in countless dishes, both raw and cooked, grilled or fried. These processes modify the nutritional characteristics of shrimp, which leads us to ask ourselves: how should it be consumed, preferably, to take full advantage of its nutritional benefits?

Some studies have sought to elucidate the effect of different shrimp preparation processes, and the results are interesting. It has been reported that boiled and grilled shrimp maintain a lipid profile, as well as an increase in antioxidant compounds, which could be related to a decrease in cholesterol levels, in addition to improving the health of people with chronic and degenerative diseases such as diabetes, fatty liver, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases.

Also, boiled shrimp maintain aromatic compounds with high acceptability, as well as a lower risk of microbial growth (due to the elimination of pathogenic microorganisms by the conditions of the thermal process), making them attractive in the preparation of various dishes and, compared to raw shrimp, they have a longer shelf life.

On the other hand, fried shrimp have unique organoleptic characteristics that make them gastronomically very appealing. It has been demonstrated that, during this process, the aromatic compounds of shrimp are enhanced, resulting in better acceptability compared to raw shrimp.

However, there is a change in the nutritional characteristics, since there is an evident decrease in antioxidant compounds (such as carotenoids), due to the frying conditions (mainly high temperature), as well as a change in the lipid profile, which could have negative effects on health.

Raw shrimp, unlike cooked shrimp, deteriorate very quickly due to the presence of pathogens such as parasites and bacteria, among others, so their consumption is limited. Recent studies have shown that, despite the nutritional characteristics they contain, shrimp are easily contaminated, so it is necessary to resort to strategies such as washing and disinfection or some method of preservation to consume them.

Although there are studies that have shown that the consumption of raw shrimp is more likely to cause harm to the organism, it is still a common ingredient in various dishes. Targeted studies are needed to elucidate the best strategy for shrimp consumption and its effects on consumer health. However, people will probably be more oriented by their five senses in search of palatability or pleasure experienced when consuming food.

Source: Luis Ángel Cabanillas Bojórquez, PhD student; Erick Paul Gutiérrez-Grijalva, Cátedras-Conacyt researcher, and J. Basilio Heredia, tenured research professor at CIAD's Culiacán.