Shrimp is one of the most beloved seafood dishes worldwide. If you have diabetes or are watching your blood sugar level, you might wonder if it's safe to eat shrimp or prawns, and the quick answer is yes.
Shrimps are a great source of essential nutrients, yet they have very little carbohydrate content, which means they can't affect your blood sugar level. Shrimps also have zero glycemic indexes and benefit your immune system and heart health.
However, note that shrimp contain cholesterol, which may increase the risk of heart disease. Read on to find out why it's safe for diabetics to eat shrimp and for the best shrimp recipes that won't make your blood sugar level rise.
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Diabetes in a Nutshell
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how your body regulates blood sugar levels. It occurs when your body either doesn't produce enough insulin or doesn't effectively use the insulin it produces.
Insulin is one of the primary hormones responsible for regulating the sugar in our blood. When we don't have enough insulin, the sugar from our food stays in our blood. This makes our blood sugar levels go up.
There are three main types of diabetes:
- Type 1 Diabetes - Juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes
- Type 2 Diabetes - Diabetes Mellitus or adult-onset diabetes
- Gestational Diabetes Mellitus - Appears during pregnancy and often goes away after delivery.
Regardless of the type, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease, nerve damage, vision loss, and kidney disease.
People with diabetes must monitor their blood sugar levels regularly and make lifestyle changes, such as maintaining healthy eating habits and engaging in regular physical activity, to help manage their condition.
Is Shrimp Good For Diabetics?
According to the American Diabetes Association, shrimp are rich in protein and healthy fats and low in calories and carbohydrates, making them an excellent protein source for diabetes patients.
Moreover, shrimps are among the few food options with a zero glycemic index, so you don't have to worry about a blood sugar spike.
In the following section, I will discuss all the reasons that make shrimp a good food option for people with diabetes.
What Makes Shrimp Good For Diabetics?
Protein in Shrimp Promotes Insulin Production
Eating foods high in protein benefits diabetes patients as protein stimulates insulin production. The food we eat gets digested and used to produce necessary compounds.
When we eat protein, it breaks down into amino acids, which stimulate the production of hormones like insulin.
A study also suggests that eating lean seafood lowers insulin resistance and enhances insulin sensitivity among insulin-resistant diabetes patients.
While the body produces enough insulin, this is not the case for people with diabetes. If you have diabetes, your body may not be producing enough insulin, or your cells may have become insulin-resistant.
Shrimp helps increase insulin levels to cater to glucose in your blood and increase insulin sensitivity.
Protein in Shrimp Lowers Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body's cells do not respond appropriately to the hormone insulin. Since insulin is necessary to lower blood sugar levels, people with diabetes should eat foods that reduce insulin sensitivity, like shrimp.
According to studies, high-protein foods like shrimp proved effective in improving insulin resistance. Reduced insulin resistance lowers the risk of developing diabetes complications since the body responds better to insulin.
Shrimp Has Zero Glycemic Index
Shrimp is an excellent food for people with diabetes and those following a low glycemic index (GI) diet. Shrimp has a zero glycemic index because it does not contain any carbohydrates.
Since shrimp does not contain carbohydrates, it does not affect your blood sugar level, making it a safe protein source.
However, despite the zero glycemic index, you should still track how many shrimp you can eat in a day. You should still consider other factors, like how you cook shrimp and what other ingredients you cook with it.
Shrimp Is Low In Carbs
Every 100 grams of shrimp only has 0.2 grams of carbohydrates, which is almost negligible, making it safe for people with diabetes. Eating too many carbohydrates causes a blood sugar spike, which triggers diabetes symptoms and could lead to complications.
Since shrimp and prawns are low in carbohydrates, they are an excellent option in your weight loss journey.
Shrimp Strengthens the Immune System
People with diabetes need to have a strong immune system because they are more likely to get infections and other health problems.
Shrimp is a good source of proteins and minerals that can help boost the immune system. It has a lot of zinc, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are important for a strong immune system.
Zinc is an essential mineral for the healthy functioning of the immune system and is known to promote cell growth and differentiation, aiding in the production of immune cells.
Selenium helps the body produce antibodies to fight infections and can help reduce inflammation. Moreover, omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats with anti-inflammatory properties that prevent autoimmune diseases.
Shrimp Prevents Heart Disease
Shrimp is an excellent source of lean protein, making it a heart-healthy food. It is very low in saturated fat and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health.
Does Shrimp Increase Blood Sugar Levels?
Shrimp has a very low carbohydrate content and a zero glycemic index, which means it does not increase blood sugar and is safe for diabetes patients.
Does Shrimp Lower Blood Sugar Levels?
While eating shrimp does not directly lower one's blood sugar level, it stimulates insulin production and reduces insulin resistance, which helps keep the blood glucose stable and eventually lessen the sugar in your blood.
Risk of Shrimp Overconsumption Among Diabetics
Although shrimp and prawns are generally safe for people with diabetes, overconsumption can still do more harm than good as they contain high amounts of dietary cholesterol.
Too much cholesterol can contribute to the buildup of fatty deposits in your artery walls, leading to a condition called atherosclerosis. This can reduce or block blood flow and lead to high blood pressure, a heart attack, a stroke, or other serious health problems.
Eating shrimp twice a week is safe, and the serving size should not exceed three ounces.
Top 3 Best Shrimp Recipes for Diabetics
Shrimp Scampi for Diabetics
- 1 pound large shrimp peeled and deveined
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp dry white wine
- ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add in the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute.
- Add the shrimp to the skillet and sauté for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour in the white wine, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
- Let the sauce simmer for about 5 minutes or until reduced and thickened.
- Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve the shrimp scampi over cooked pasta or brown rice.
Broccoli Shrimp Stir Fry
- 1 pound shrimp peeled and deveined
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp ginger minced
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp chili flakes
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 2 tbsp scallions chopped
- Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger and stir fry for 1 minute.
- Add soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and chili flakes and stir fry for 1 minute.
- Add the broccoli and stir-fry for 3 minutes.
- Add the shrimp and stir fry for 3 to 4 minutes until cooked through.
- Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with scallions. Serve immediately.
Shrimp Cocktail for Diabetics
- 2 pounds cooked shrimp peeled and deveined
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp paprika
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup prepared horseradish
- ¼ cup chili sauce
- ¼ cup hot sauce
- ¼ cup prepared mustard
- ¼ cup cocktail sauce
- In a large bowl, combine the shrimp, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Toss to coat the shrimp evenly.
- In a separate bowl, mix the parsley, ketchup, horseradish, chili sauce, hot sauce, mustard, and cocktail sauce until well blended.
- Pour the shrimp mixture into a large serving bowl and top with the sauce. Serve chilled.
Best Seafood for Diabetics
Aside from shrimp, fish such as tuna, cod, tilapia, trout, and salmon are the best options for diabetic patients. Experts recommend eating two servings of cooked fish per week for the health benefits.
Yes, diabetes patients can eat shellfish, as they offer essential nutrients that help regulate high blood sugar levels. Shellfish also promotes weight loss, which is necessary for preventing diabetes complications.
It is not safe to consume raw shrimp or raw food. Raw meat harbors microorganisms that may cause food poisoning.