- Shrimp are a great source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other vitamins and minerals.
- Because of their low glycemic index (GI) and lack of carbohydrates, shrimp will not raise blood sugar levels.
- Shrimp can be a healthy component of a balanced diabetes meal plan.
Getting enough protein is an important component of a diabetes-friendly diet. According to the Diabetes Plate Method, you should aim to fill one quarter of your plate at meal times with lean protein, like shrimp.
In addition to being low in fat, shrimp have a low glycemic index, which makes them an excellent choice for people with diabetes. They’re also a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals. Still, there are some factors you may want to consider when incorporating the food into your diet.
Nourish offers personalized nutrition counseling to help you meet your blood sugar and diabetes needs. If you’re ready to take the next step in your health, consider booking a virtual appointment with a registered dietitian.
Nutritional Value of Shrimp
Shrimp have several nutritional qualities that make them an excellent protein choice for people with diabetes. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the nutritional properties of three ounces of shrimp are as follows:
- 72.2 calories.
- 17.1g of protein.
- 0.43g of fat.
- 0.0086g of saturated fat.
- 0g of carbohydrates.
- 224mg of potassium.
- 137mg of cholesterol.
Can People With Diabetes Eat Shrimp?
Yes, shrimp are a great source of lean protein for people with diabetes. Low in fat and lacking carbohydrates, they won’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
There are some potential benefits that eating shrimp can offer people with diabetes, including:
- Keep blood sugar spikes at bay: Shrimp don’t contain carbohydrates, which means eating the food on its own will not cause blood sugar levels to rise, which can pose risks for people with diabetes.
- Reduce risk of heart disease: Three ounces of shrimp contains approximately 267mg of omega-3 fatty acids (also called omega-3s or omega-3 fats). Research shows that omega-3s can help to reduce the risk of heart failure, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Studies also show that omega-3s may help to lower blood sugar and heart rate and improve blood vessel function.
There are no significant downsides to eating shrimp as part of a balanced diet. Though they do contain high amounts of cholesterol, nutritional recommendations from 2019 suggest that limiting saturated fat intake may be more impactful than limiting dietary cholesterol intake for managing blood cholesterol levels. Because shrimp are very low in saturated fat, they are unlikely to have adverse effects on blood cholesterol levels. More research is needed to determine the relationship between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels.
How Much Will Eating Shrimp Raise Your Blood Sugar?
Eating shrimp is unlikely to raise your blood sugar levels because they contain zero carbohydrates. However, their effects on your blood sugar will vary depending on how the shrimp are prepared. For example, shrimp that are battered are more likely to have an impact on your blood sugar levels than shrimp that are steamed or sauteed because they will have a higher carbohydrate content. Adding a sweet dipping sauce to the meal will also increase the risk of elevating your blood sugar levels.
Glycemic Index of Shrimp
Because they don’t contain carbohydrates, shrimp have a GI rating of 0, the lowest rating possible. Foods that have a low GI rating, including shrimp, some fruits, and green vegetables, have a delayed effect on blood sugar levels. When meal-planning for diabetes, you should consider incorporating more low GI foods into your diet and limiting your consumption of high GI foods to help manage your blood sugar levels.
It’s important to note that carbohydrate counting is the primary strategy in blood sugar management. However, Gl index can be a useful tool when used in combination with carbohydrate counting.
Tips for Eating Shrimp with Diabetes
There are many ways to enjoy eating shrimp if you have diabetes. However, there are some factors you may want to consider when planning to incorporate the protein into your regular diet:
- Consider the preparation technique: How you prepare the shrimp will impact its potential to raise your blood sugar levels. Sauteed or steamed shrimp are unlikely to affect your blood sugar levels. But adding breading or batter to the shrimp will increase its carbohydrate content, which may make the food more likely to spike your blood sugar. Though you don’t have to completely avoid breaded shrimp when you have diabetes, you should take the food’s preparation into consideration when planning the other components of your meal.
- Choose wild-caught over farmed shrimp to reduce exposure to mercury: Many assume that wild-caught seafood is more sustainable than farmed alternatives. But both wild-caught and farmed seafood from the United States are monitored for national standards of sustainability. However, some research suggests that wild-caught shrimp may contain lower amounts of mercury, which would be the more healthful option.
Shrimp vs Other Seafood with Diabetes
Like shrimp, many types of seafood are low in fat and carbohydrates and contain omega-3s, making them a rich source of lean protein for people with diabetes. Salmon is one example of seafood that is excellent for people with diabetes.
Other types of seafood which are higher in mercury, like shark or swordfish, should be limited or avoided.
Other Seafood Options When Managing Diabetes
Examples of types of seafood that may benefit your health include:
- Black cod.
- Bluefin tuna.
- Striped bass.
If you’re interested in adding more seafood to your diet, Nourish can connect you with a registered dietitian specialized in diabetes management and meal planning. If you need help optimizing your diet, consider booking a virtual appointment today.
Shrimp are a great lean protein option for people with diabetes. They also contain zero carbohydrates, which means they won’t spike your blood sugar after eating (as long as they are prepared without batter or breading, which will add to the overall carbohydrate count of the dish). Shrimp also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to protect your heart health.
Managing Diabetes with an RD
Want to add more diabetes-friendly and heart-healthy seafood into your diet? Working with a registered dietitian can help you to devise a healthy meal plan for diabetes to ensure that you’re eating a balanced diet that won’t adversely affect your blood sugar levels.
Book an appointment with Nourish and see a registered dietitian through your insurance.
Frequently Asked Questions
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