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Fit Food: Shrimp

On the grill, in a salad, or just bathed in cocktail sauce, shrimp is an ultimate — and nutritious — summer food

WHY YOU NEED THEM

  • Shrimp are high in muscle-building protein, and an excellent source of betaine, a nutrient necessary for helping your body to maintain normal levels of homocysteine (a potentially harmful amino acid that promotes inflammation by irritating the lining of blood vessels). An ample supply of vitamin B12 — more than 25% of recommended daily dose per serving — further assists in keeping homocysteine in check.

 

  • Your body uses the amino acid arginine in shrimp to produce nitric oxide, a key player in preventing blood clots, relaxing arteries, and improving blood flow to the heart, muscles, brain, and other, uh, essential male organs.

  • Four ounces of cooked shrimp serves up nearly half the DHA and EPA — omega-3 fats — you should be getting every day. Omega-3s reduce blood pressure and triglycerides (fats in the blood) and are one of the only nutrients that raise good HDL cholesterol.

  • These sea critters are low-cal (112 calories per four ounces) and are one of only a handful of foods with natural vitamin D. People with the most vitamin D in their blood have the lowest risk of several different cancers, studies report. One serving provides about half of your daily D needs.

HOW TO SHOP FOR SHRIMP

  • In the market, opt for wild American shrimp, when available. They're caught off the coast of the southern states and pack lower levels of pollutants than shrimp from other waters.

 

  • Look for crustaceans with firm bodies still attached to their shell. They should be uniform in color and free of blemishes; avoid those with a fishy smell _ they're not as fresh.

  • Store raw shrimp up to two days in the fridge. For later use, wrap them in plastic, freeze, and use within a month (or buy shrimp that are already frozen). Before cooking, defrost frozen shrimp in a bowl of cold water, or in the fridge rather than simply leaving at room temperature.

  • Prefer cans? Look for Bumble Bee or Chicken of the Sea, which are two of the best options.

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