There are over 2,000 different types of shrimp, but only a fraction of those are commonly eaten. Whether you prefer tiger or rock, shrimp are a nutritious low-fat source of protein that provide essential omega-3 fats along with vitamins and minerals. However, they are relatively high in sodium even if you don't add any salt when you cook them.
You need a small amount of sodium each day to keep your blood volume at an appropriate level and your nerves and muscles functioning properly. However, most people get way more sodium than they need. The average American consumes nearly 3,500 milligrams of sodium per day, although the recommended limit for sodium for healthy people is 2,300 milligrams per day. Getting too much sodium in your diet increases your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease, especially if you are sensitive to sodium.
Sodium in Shrimp
A 100-gram serving of shrimp, which is a little over 3 ounces, cooked in moist heat naturally contains about 148 milligrams of sodium, or 6 percent of the recommended daily limit. However, some of the shrimp you buy in stores that have been frozen are treated to stay moist once they thaw, and this type of shrimp contains 566 milligrams of sodium per 100-gram serving, or 25 percent of the recommended daily limit.
Limiting Sodium Consumption
Most of the sodium in your diet comes from processed foods and restaurant foods, not from the salt you add during cooking or at the table. However, using herbs and spices instead of salt in your cooking can help limit your sodium consumption, as can eating fewer processed foods and purchasing the low-sodium versions of the processed foods you do eat. Purchasing fresh or frozen shrimp and cooking them yourself, rather than purchasing heat-and-eat meals containing shrimp or pre-seasoned shrimp will help you limit the sodium in your diet.
Fitting Shrimp Into Your Diet
Shrimp are also high in cholesterol, with 126 milligrams per serving, which is 42 percent of the recommended limit of 300 milligrams per day. When you buy frozen shrimp, check the nutrition facts label to see how much sodium they contain per serving, or ask the person behind the fish counter if they have been treated so you can purchase the type of shrimp that contains less sodium. Don't add extra salt when you cook shrimp, stick to one serving and limit the amount of processed foods and foods high in cholesterol that you eat during the day to keep your daily sodium and cholesterol consumption within the recommended limit.
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.