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Shrimp's high cholesterol may not be so bad

October 24, 1996

From Correspondent Eugenia Halsey


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Even though shrimp is low in fat, many doctors tell their patients to avoid it because it's high in cholesterol. The typical serving of shrimp has two-thirds the amount of cholesterol you should consume in an entire day.

Well, shrimp lovers take heart. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says despite all that cholesterol shrimp is perfectly good for you.

For more than two months, researchers at Rockefeller University in New York and Harvard tested several different types of low fat diets on 18 people with normal cholesterol levels, including a diet containing more than half a pound of steamed shrimp a day.

cookingThe scientists found the shrimp diet did not raise participants' overall cholesterol levels. They're not sure why, however, the scientists say perhaps it's because shrimp is low in fat and contains fish oils that are good for your heart.

"In fact, consuming shrimp instead of other high fat foods will have beneficial effects," said Elizabeth De Oliveira of Rockefeller University.

While the shrimp diet did increase people's so-called bad cholesterol or LDL slightly, it also boosted their so-called good cholesterol or HDL enough to offset the increase in bad cholesterol.

"If you love shrimp, and you follow a heart healthy diet, enjoy your shrimp with no guilt," De Oliveira said.

That's good news, because Americans eat more shrimp than any other kind of seafood, except for tuna.

table But nutrition experts say stick to steamed or grilled shrimp.

"I want to remind people that if they're going to eat shrimp, and it is low fat, it's not going to help them if they fry it or eat in a high fat sauce or recipe," said Barbara Howard of the American Heart Association.

While the study didn't test the effect of shrimp on people with high cholesterol, health experts say moderate amounts of shrimp should be fine for them too.

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