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    Archive for the ‘shrimp’ Category

    Who Said It?: Reveal

    dr-oz-0304-lg-85334211Interviewer: Is all seafood good for you?

    Our subject’s answer: “Nope. Some of the crustaceans have cholesterol — shrimp, crab, lobster.”

    This is what Dr. Oz told Esquire magazine last year.  Granted, the rest of his nutrition-related answers (except for one other, which I discuss below) are accurate.  However, I am extremely surprised that someone who considers himself a nutrition expert is not up to date on dietary cholesterol research.

    When it comes to issues of heart disease, dietary cholesterol is waaay down on the list of troublemakers.  Trans fats, excessive omega-6 intake, insufficient omega-3 intake, high intakes of sugar, and certain saturated fats (mainly those in the meat and milk of corn and grain-fed cattle) are of much more concern.

    Shrimp, crab, and lobster are not “unhealthy” because they contain cholesterol.  Besides, wild salmon contains cholesterol, so why is Dr. Oz singling out crustaceans?

    In an attempt to avoid cholesterol in crustaceans, many people instead opt for red meat which offers lower levels of cholesterol but significantly higher levels of problematic saturated fatty acids (and not a single milligram of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids).

    Another one of Dr. Oz’s misguided tips — he recommends eating “wheat crust” pizza.  This is one of the most aggravating tips, because… well, it isn’t a tip at all!  White flour is made from wheat; ergo, it is wheat crust.  “Wheat” does not mean whole grain.  The real tip is to aim for “100% whole wheat” crust.

    The whole “wheat bread is healthier than white bread” idea needs to be squashed immediately.  Too many times, breads simply labeled as “wheat” are made from white flour with caramel color or molasses thrown in to give it a healthy-looking brown tint.

    It is statements like these (along with others I have pointed out on the blog) that truly make me wonder why Dr. Oz is viewed as a “nutrition” guru.  The two tips mentioned in this post are basic Nutrition 101 information.


    Who Said it?

    QuestionMark-300x2991Interviewer: Is all seafood good for you?

    Our subject’s answer: “Nope. Some of the crustaceans have cholesterol — shrimp, crab, lobster.”

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Sunday for the reveal — and to find out why I take issue with the above answer.


    You Ask, I Answer: Farmed Seafood

    shrimpThanks for all the information about farmed salmon.  I had no idea Atlantic salmon was grown in such nasty conditions.

    The other day at a restaurant, I had the following grilled seafood choices to add to a salad: squid, shrimp, tuna, and lobsters.

    Are any of these farmed, or can I order them knowing they are all wild?  I already know about mercury in tuna; in this instance I am only interested in the farming vs. wild issue.

    — Steve Wilmott
    (Location withheld)

    Seafood opens up Pandora’s box.  Frankly, the more I read about the fishing and farming of many marine animals, the more turned off I am.

    There’s the mercury issue with tuna, the salmon farming hot topic, concerns regarding overfishing and completely unsustainable catching methods that threaten to render certain species extinct and practically destroy ecosystems, and then… there’s the issue of Country of Origin Labeling.

    Let’s start at the beginning.

    In regards to your question: tuna and squid are not farmed.  Roughly half of all shrimp in the world are farmed.  The vast majority of lobsters, meanwhile, are wild-caught.

    The shrimp issue is interesting.  Whereas shrimp farms in the United States are subject to certain regulations (mainly relating to waste treatment and antibiotic use), the overwhelming majority of the world’s farmed shrimp — mainly housed in China, India, and Thailand — are harvested in awful conditions.  Their water is laden with copious amounts of chemicals, antibiotics, and pesticides that are strictly illegal in the United States by the Environmental Protection Agency.

    Since more than three quarters of the shrimp sold in the United States is imported from those countries (and is very rarely inspected for those substances upon arriving to these shores), chances are the shrimp you eat has not been raised in the most pristine conditions.

    Making matters more complicated?  Depending on the species, farmed shrimp (the US kind) is a more environmentally-friendly choice than some wild-caught species that are obtained through methods that pose very negative consequences on ecosystems.  This is where personal choice and priorities come into play.  Do you value health over environment?  Environment over health?  Both equally?

    Of course, this would all be much easier to navigate if Country of Origin Labeling were implemented more effectively.

    Currently, United States law mandates that unprocessed seafood served at supermarkets be labeled with the country of origin as well as a “farmed” or “wild-caught” status.  For whatever reason, restaurants and specialty stores are exempt from this requirement.

    One of my absolute favorite resources is the Seafood Watch Pocket Guide, tailored to various different regions.


    You Ask, I Answer: Choline

    1B7796CD98BAE223AFF6643CFAF1A7What is choline?  Why is it good for us and which foods contain it?

    — @Monica_San Diego, @noelty5
    Via Twitter

    I received these tweets soon after I tweeted that 90 percent of adults in the United States do not get sufficient amounts of choline in their diets.

    Choline is an essential nutrient (‘essential’ meaning we must get it from food) that is often referred to as a “vitamin-like organic substance” that has a lot in common with the B vitamins (it is not, however, an out-and-out B vitamin).

    Choline has a number of important functions, including:

    • Proper functioning of neurotransmitters
    • Overall liver and gallbladder health
    • Fetal neural and spinal development
    • Cell permeability (allowing cells to absorb fats adequately and excrete necessary metabolites)
    • Phospholipid synthesis (necessary for cellular structure)
    • Cardiovascular health (choline helps lower homocysteine levels; high homocysteine levels are a significant risk factor for heart disease)

    As far as food sources go, these are your best bets:

    • Beef
    • Broccoli
    • Cauliflower
    • Egg yolk
    • Lentils
    • Salmon
    • Shrimp
    • Soy beans
    • Peanuts
    • Wheat germ
    • Salmon

    Men should aim for 550 milligrams a day. Women, meanwhile, need to shoot for 425.

    Multiple research studies have concluded that consistent, long-term deficiencies increase one’s risk of developing fatty liver, liver cancer, and heart disease.


    On Behalf of Shrimp

    Last Summer I blogged about my disappointment at an episode of Bravo’s Top Chef competition reality show in which contestants’ only guideline for creating a heart-healthy dish was making it “low in cholesterol.”

    This led to the usage of meats low in cholesterol but high in saturated fat.

    Ironically, saturated fat is more detrimental to blood cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol.

    One contestant was specifically chastised for using lobster — a higher-cholesterol food containing Omega-3 fatty acids and almost no saturated fat — while others were praised for using red meats lower in cholesterol but chock full of saturated fat.

    I just finished watching this week’s episode of Top Chef (currently in its fourth season) and am experiencing a major case of déjà vu.

    This time around, the seven remaining contestants were asked to create healthy meals for Chicago’s police officers, who often turn to unhealthy fast food dishes for lunch.

    The chefs had complete freedom to make whatever dish struck their fancy as long as it contained one whole grain, one lean protein, one fruit, and one vegetable.

    Great so far.

    Then, on the heels of host Padma Lakshmi talking about this country’s battle with obesity and diabetes, they threw in an additional seemingly random rule about dishes being “low carb” and “low sugar.”

    Huh? A low-carb dish that must include whole grains?

    Adding to the “tacked on” feeling of that rule is the fact that when it came to judging, carbohydrate content was not an issue (and it shouldn’t be; high fiber is more important than low carb in my book).

    I digress.

    Spaztic contestant Andrew D’Ambrosi — who made a poorly reviewed salmon maki roll substituting raw parsnips and pinenuts for rice — spent a large portion of this episode obnoxiously bragging about the 2 years he spent studying nutrition.

    In one scene, he is seen recommending to a fellow “cheftestant” that she not use shrimp since they are high in cholesterol and, therefore, do not fulfill the “healthy” requirement of the challenge.

    Andrew, back to nutrition school for you!

    Let’s put this to rest once and for all. Shrimp are healthy.

    Yes, they are higher in cholesterol than other aquatic animals, but dietary cholesterol is less related to blood cholesterol than saturated fat.

    Here’s the better news — three ounces of shrimp only provide 0.2 grams of saturated fat. That’s a mere 1% of the recommended daily maximum limit.

    It also doesn’t hurt that those three ounces pack in 18 grams of protein, 300 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids, 48% of the selenium requirement, 21% of the Vitamin B12 requirement, and 15% of a day’s worth of iron… all in an 84 calorie package!

    I am not calling for shrimp to be a daily staple, but don’t cast them aside because of their cholesterol profile.

    Maybe next time I’ll post a Chris Crocker inspired “Leave shrimp alone!” video…


    In The News: The Big Fish Exposé

    Last week’s report on the alarmingly high mercury content of tuna sushi served in various New York City restaurants made consumer and industry ears perk up.

    Remember, “a chain of five stores in New York, Gourmet Garage, sold tuna that in the New York Times test had mercury concentrations above one part per million, the Food and Drug Administration’s “action level,” at which the fish can be taken off the market.”

    Consumers are undoubtedly taking the issue seriously.

    “At Eli’s Manhattan, on New York’s Upper East Side, sales of tuna sushi were down 30 percent in the past week,” the New York Times reports in this follow-up article.

    Now the Environmental Protection Agency is stepping in and beginning to test the mercury levels of the 20 most consumed fish in the New York City area.

    I’m looking forward to reading the results.

    In the meantime, please do not view discard something as wonderful healthy as seafood as high-mercury poison.

    The real “red flag” is raised with large fish (that accumulate mercury in their system through consuming smaller fish).

    Smaller species such as salmon, tilapia, flounder, sardines, and sole are among the lowest in mercury.

    Remember, too, that mollusks and crustaceans such as shrimp, scallops, prawns, and crab are healthy low-mercury options.


    All-Star of the Day: Shrimp

    Although small in size, shrimp are one of nutrition’s biggest kahunas.

    Like eggs, they spent some time on the “Do Not Eat” list in the fat-phobic 90’s due to their high cholesterol. But, as you faithful readers now know, dietary cholesterol doesn’t have much of an effect on our blood cholesterol.

    And, considering all the health benefits shrimp provide, it would be a shame to put a dunce cap on them and make them face the corner.

    For one thing, shrimp contain omega-3 fats – the anti-inflammatory kind that help prevent blood clots, lower bad cholesterol, and have been linked with lower risks of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.

    Despite their high nutrient volume, shrimp are low when it comes to calories. Three ounces (considered to be one serving) provide 84 calories, just .8 grams of fat, 17.8 grams of protein as well as 15% of our iron and 48% of our daily selenium requirements!

    Although obscure in the mainstream press, selenium is a crucial mineral with antioxidant properties. Many clinical research trials show a promising link between it and the repair of damaged cells in our bodies as well as a significant reduction in the multiplying of already existing cancerous cells.

    It’s also smart to be aware of good sources of iron, especially considering that 12% of women aged 12 to 49 in the United States are living with iron-deficiency anemia.

    It goes without saying that in order to reap all these benefits, shrimp should be grilled or sauteed. Three ounces of popcorn shrimp clock in at 281 calories, 16.2 grams of fat, and 586 milligrams of sodium (as opposed to 190 for plain grilled shrimp).


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