All Facts About Shrimps: Is Shrimp Seafood, Fish or Meat?

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Shrimps are a popular addition in dinner parties in the united states. Shrimps contain a lot of dietary protein, alongside other incredible benefits to our bodies.

This article goes over all the facts about shrimps, and it will amaze you that contrary to their fame, shrimps are a lot more than we know them.  

Many are confused about what exactly shrimps are, especially those with specific food allergies. Such people will want to understand what is on their plates. They’ll want to know whether this delicacy is classified as meat, fish, or seafood.

So how do you get to explain to such a person what shrimp is? Read on.

What is a Shrimp?

Shrimps fall under a class of crustaceans known as decapods.  The prefix ‘deca’ implies that they have 10 legs. Also, they have elongated bodies with a primary locomotion mode dendrobranchiate and are closely related to crayfish, crab, and lobsters.

Shrimps are characterized by their semi-transparent bodies that are flattened side to side with a flexible abdomen that enables them to swim backward.

They closely resemble prawns which have long and narrow muscular abdomens, long whiskers, and slender legs.

Crabs and lobsters have stronger legs compared to shrimps that have thin, fragile legs that they primarily use for perching.

The scientific name of shrimps is Caridea, and the taxonomic class, Pleocyemata has 300 subspecies, each with its own scientific (species) names. These subspecies are abundant and adapted to several habitats. You will find them especially near the seafloor on the coasts, rivers, lakes, and estuaries. Their food consists mainly of tiny plants and animals, and some do feed on carrion and can last for up to seven years.

Shrimps are solitary creatures, but they are usually from schools in the spawning season. Their long muscular abdomens are what we consume as food.

The smaller-sized ones, usually about 2cm long, are widely farmed, while the larger ones are mainly commercially grown as prawns.

Is Shrimp Seafood ?

Seafood has been consumed for thousands of years and in different cuisines all over the world. Shrimps are considered seafood and fall under the same class as crabs, sea urchins, oysters, squids, and octopuses.

They can be found on coastal floors and near rivers and lakes. This seafood can either be boiled, fried, baked, or enjoyed as a cocktail.

Is Shrimp Considered a Meat?

Yes! Shrimp is considered seafood and meat. Meat is defined as flesh from animals. Preparation of shrimps involves removing the head, shell, tail, sand vein, and all that falls under the same umbrella as the preparation of other seafood.

Ideally, shrimps have also been considered a type of fish. Since fish is still a meat, then shrimps are meat also. Since shrimps are classified as a crustacean or a shellfish, it is somehow different from the meat of other land animals.

This is because they live in the sea, and some religions have a different view on their consumption. For instance, the Jewish forbid the consumption of shellfish even though they consume meats.

The Catholic religion prohibits the consumption of meat during the lent season. They, however, consider shrimps as a type of fish and meat that cannot be consumed during the lent season.

Vegetarians and vegans also consider shrimps as meat, inclusive of seafood like prawns and shrimps.

Shrimp are highly nutritious with high levels of iodine, calcium, and protein. They are also rich in bone-building nutrients like magnesium, zinc, vitamin D, and phosphorous.

What Kind of Shrimp do we Eat?

Shrimps have different species- 300 at least. However, it’s only a tiny portion that is available commercially. When shopping for shrimp, it can be hard to tell which to go for.

Firstly, understand the two varieties: the farmed and the ones caught in the wild. Also, not all shrimps are used for culinary purposes; some are for ornamental purposes.

Wild shrimps have certification from the Marine Stewardship Council. Farmed ones have certification from natural and whole foods responsibly farmed or aquaculture stewardship.

Types of Shrimps

Brown Shrimps

Primarily found in the Gulf of Mexico, brown shrimps have reddish-brown shells that have a dark green color with red tail-fan appendages. They are firm with an iodine mineral-like taste.

Spot Prawns

Spot prawns are considered shrimps. They have spikes, and they can be easily torn apart when preparing them. Spot prawns can grow up to 12 inches long and are caught mainly in Alaska, Washington, California, and British Columbia.

Pink Shrimps

Just like their name suggests, these shrimps are pink in color when raw with hues of grey and white. They are mild tasting but sweet and make a great addition to shrimp salads.

White Shrimps

White shrimps come in 3 varieties:

  • Gulf white,
  • Pacific white, and
  • Chinese white.

All these varieties have a translucent blueish-greenish color that turns pink on cooking. They are tender and sweet tasting. This has made them popular in many recipes. Also, they can be eaten when boiled, fried, baked, grilled, or even stuffed.

Rock Shrimp

These shrimps have rock-hard shells. You will find them deshelled and cleaned, and ready to cook since the process of deshelling them can be really challenging. They taste just like lobsters and even have this lobster-like texture.

Tiger Shrimp

Tiger shrimps are identified by the stripes on their bodies that resemble tigers’. These shrimps are the best for starters because their flavor is moderate and their texture strong.

Is Shrimp an Animal?

Yes, shrimps are animals. Shrimp is a common term for many decapod crustaceans of the infraorder Caridea and is also used more specifically to mean those Crustacea which belong to the family Penaeidae. The other broad group of crustaceans that is sometimes referred to as “shrimp” are the amphipods.

These amphipods are malacostracan crustaceans with laterally compressed bodies, generally with fan-like pleopods (swimmerets).

What is The Difference Between Shrimp and Prawns?

You probably have heard some hype that shrimps and prawns are the same thing, which is wrong! Whereas these two are decapod crustaceans, certain things that set them apart. Their size variations simply don’t make them related.

So let’s look at the difference between shrimps and prawns.

The Habitat They are Found

Shrimp and prawns live in different habitats. You will find shrimps swimming in salty marine waters while prawns spend their time crawling on the floor of freshwaters. This makes these two crustaceans to be in different food chains.

Taste

The different habitats of shrimps and prawns induce different flavors. Shrimps spend their time in a salt marinade and develop this subtle taste. If they are not seasoned, the salty taste is more noticeable. Prawns are sweeter before seasoning. One should, however, be careful not to add excess salt and seasoning.

Size

Prawns are often larger than shrimps. This might not be the best way of telling them apart since there could be more giant shrimps.

Prices

The shrimps you find in grocery stores tend to be smaller than prawns. For this reason, prawns are much pricier than shrimps. The larger-sized shrimps that measure up to 15 inches like the mantis shrimp can be considerably pricier in some cases. The farmed shrimps also tend to be less expensive than the free range of fish obtained in the wild.

Definitions

Shrimps and prawns are famous all over the world. The different locations have different definitions of these crustaceans. In New Zealand, Ireland, and Australia, they generally term shrimps and prawns as prawns. In northern America, they use prawns to define larger species found in freshwaters.

Sub Orders

Shrimps and prawns share the same decapod order but belong to different suborders. The former belong to the suborder pleocyemata, like crabs, lobsters, and crayfish, while prawns belong to suborder dendrobranchiata.

Anatomy

The body form of shrimp differs from that of prawns. The head and abdomen of shrimps are overlapped by its thorax, while in prawns, the three segments overlap each other, i.e., the head overlaps the thorax, which overlaps the abdomen.

Another way to distinguish shrimp from prawns is by examining their legs. Shrimps usually have a pair of claw-like legs, while prawns have 3 pairs that are also longer than shrimps’.

When it comes to reproduction, these two crustaceans differ genetically and in behavior. Shrimps will carry their eggs(fertilized) on their underside, while prawns just lay their eggs in water and leave them to grow by themselves.

Nutritional Value of Shrimp

Shrimps are one of the widely consumed shellfish in the world. They boast of being nutritious with high iodine levels that are not common in other foods. Shrimps also have high cholesterol levels, which might worry you. But do you know that these creatures can benefit your body by several means?

Nutritional facts of 84g steamed shrimp

  • Calories 76
  • Carbs 1g
  • Sugars 0g
  • Fiber 0g
  • Protein 15g
  • Sodium 15g

Note: the method of preparation affects the nutritional values of the shrimp.

Carbohydrates

Only a gram of carbohydrates is present in a 3oz serving. But as mentioned earlier, the method you cook these shrimps with might change the nutritional values. For instance, a shrimp cooked with breadcrumbs will obviously have higher levels of carbs.

Proteins

You get 25g of protein(lean) in one cup of shrimp without taking any saturated fats.

Fats

With only a gram fat in 3 oz. serving, shrimps contain the essential omega 3 fatty acids and unsaturated fats that are healthy. If you add butter and oil, there will be a change in the fat content in the dish.

Minerals and Vitamins

Shrimps contain vitamin B12 and minerals like phosphorous, zinc, selenium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and iron.

How Shrimps Benefit Your Health

The health benefits shrimps boast of will make you want to include it in your dishes more often. Here is what you benefit from consuming shrimps.

Aiding in Maintaining Weight Loss

High in protein, shrimps enable you to have multiple appetites that help prevent adding previously lost weight. Not only does it maintain your weight, but it also regulates your food intake.

Healthy Pregnancy

Shrimp is different seafood from the rest. It contains lesser mercury levels compared to other seafood, making it safe for consumption among pregnant women.

Other than that, its rich source of iron, choline, protein, calcium, and vitamin B12 supports the healthy growth of the fetus.

Brain and Bone Health

The choline present in shrimps helps in cognitive abilities. Present in the shrimp is astaxanthin and omega 3 fatty acids that provide neuroprotective effects in our bodies.

The nutrients in this crustaceans help maintain good bone health and reducing bone fractures and osteoporosis in elderly people.

Heart Health

Minimally processed shrimps are a good choline source that affects homocysteine, which is essential for a healthy heart.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Large Shrimps Called?

Shrimps are generally small in size. The larger ones are referred to as prawns and usually come with 155 pounds or less.

What Are Shrimp Related to..?

Plants and animals are organized in groups based on their similarities. Shrimps are crustaceans, phylum Arthropoda and closely related to myriapods and insects. Here is how shrimp relate to insects:

Both insects and crustaceans have 3 body parts. These are the head, thorax, and abdomen.

They also hop around with their jointed legs.

Both groups have exoskeletons. This means their skeletal tissue is on the outside (the hard shell), unlike mamma, birds, and several other animal groups.

Is Eating Too Much Shrimp Bad For You?

Shrimps are widely consumed, but too much consumption is harmful to your health.

Here is how: –

  1. Shrimps contain too much cholesterol levels in your body that promote heart diseases.
  2. Shrimps contain bacteria that may trigger sickness in humans.
  3. Shrimps are also at risk of pollution. They contain large amounts of iodine that can cause iodine poisoning only when eaten in excess.
  4. Some shrimp varieties are also sprayed with sulfites that prevent discoloration on the shell. Although they are sprayed minimally, consuming too many shrimps sprayed with sulfites might cause harm.
  5. May pose a danger of poisoning by food. Shrimps contain smaller amounts of mercury. When eaten in excess, the mercury levels spike up ad might cause food poisoning.

Is Frozen Shrimp Healthy?

Freezing shrimps saves on money and offers lots of convenience during cooking. Frozen shrimps kill any harmful parasites that might harbor in the shrimp. However, according to a study by consumer reports, about 60% of frozen shrimp contain harmful microorganisms that risk foodborne diseases.

How Much Shrimp Can You Eeat?

A pound of raw shrimp per person is enough. If it is cooked, ½ to 1/3 pound per person is quite enough.

Is Raw Shrimp Good For You?

A lot of people believe consuming raw shrimp is unsafe for eating. However, some cultures do consume them raw.

For instance, in Japan, they make sashimi from raw shrimps; the Chinese eat shrimps live after soaking them in liquor.

The liquid in shrimps’ heads is a delicacy in some regions of the wo\rld. Raw shrimps could harbor viruses, bacteria, and parasites that cause illnesses.

Conclusion:

Shrimps can be delicious and easy to prepare with no fuss in cooking. They can be baked, boiled, or fried, but it is best to grill them for a nice and crispy texture. Shrimp recipes are not difficult to find if you search online. There are also many shrimp recipes in books, so you can pick any recipe you like and try it out.

Now that you know what a shrimp is, enjoy every benefit of these treats!

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