Continuing from the previous wellness article that focused on one of the most popular pescatarian protein sources, which was salmon, I'm going to focus on another well-known source which is prawns.
There are approximately 3,000 species of prawns of which only a few are mainly consumed by the worldwide population. A lot of prawns that are commercially traded and consumed are farmed and this market amounted to over 7 million tons of the product to be sold during 2020. Prawns are crustaceans that live in waters where they reproduce and where humans fish them from.
Since a lot of consumers are now focusing on buying more products that have a sustainability guarantee, during the past few years there have been more people looking for prawns farmed organically through more environment-friendly techniques. The growth of purchases in the organic sector boosted the prawns market and allowed for an expansion in this product’s availability thanks to different forms available to be purchased either fresh or frozen. As international cuisines are becoming more popular worldwide and the increasing demand for seafood as a source of protein, the market is predicted to grow and trade over 9 million tons of prawns by 2026.
Prawns usually live in the Southern hemisphere of our planet and they are classified as omnivorous animals. They eat small organisms, like plankton, as well as other shellfish. During their first years of life, they eat pieces of marine plants but after a while, they expand their food choices to include everything that they can find and use as nutrition sources. So if they can find dead fish and other sea creatures as well as sand. As a result, they don’t have any problems in eating other living organisms in the sea, including other prawns, if they can’t find anything else to source their food from.
Many people confuse shrimps with prawns and think they’re the same animal but they’re not. They look similar but they actually live in different types of water. Shrimps live in saltwater while prawns live in freshwater. Another difference is that the body structure of a shrimp is curled while prawns have a mostly straight body form. Furthermore, the main difference can be told when looking at their legs. In a shrimp, the largest pair of legs are the front ones while for a shrimp the largest are the second pair.
So what is it about prawns that make them a healthy addition to our diet?
Prawns are particularly beneficial for our overall health as they supply us with all nine amino acids that are contained in foods classified as a complete protein. Furthermore, prawns are also considered very healthy as they are a low-calorie food. In fact, according to BBC Good Food, 100g of cooked prawns contains just 70 calories. The same website also states that prawns are really good at providing various nutritional benefits thanks to their Vitamins B. these are essential for our body’s capability of processing the food we eat and get our energy from it. This group of vitamins is also very important for the functioning of our nervous system. Moreover, prawns are also rich in calcium and iron. The former is important for keeping our bones and teeth developing healthily, as well as regulating blood clotting and regulating our heartbeat. Whereas, iron is essential for the production of red blood cells and therefore allows for our body to carry oxygen effectively.
One of the main concerns with prawns is their cholesterol levels. However, it is understood that its nutritional profile doesn’t raise our LDL cholesterol levels as they are low in saturated fat. High LDL cholesterol levels indicate that cholesterol is building up in your body and clogging your arteries which can lead to cardiovascular diseases as well as increase the chances of a heart attack. However, a 2010 study conducted by academics from the Faculty of Health & Medical Sciences from the University of Surrey, located in the United Kingdom, focused on this claim. The study looked at how the consumption of cold water prawns affected the blood levels of 23 healthy men over a period of three months. The experiment found that prawns didn’t cause any significant effects on the men’s LDL cholesterol levels and that the participants’ weight remained the same throughout the study’s duration.
Furthermore, prawns are also recognized in the medical community for being an optimal source of omega-3 fatty acids. This fat is often found in seafood and fish that is rich in oil and this type of fat is particularly important as our body can’t produce itself so we need to get it either from food or supplements or both. In this case, prawns are really good for this as 100g of prawns contains over 10% of your weekly consumption of Omega-3, as recommended by health experts.
As mentioned previously, there are many reasons why you should include prawns in your diet. However, if you’re worried about cooking them, I have good news for you: prawns are really versatile! You can cook them with pasta, like this delicious recipe with spicy linguine, or you can add them to your salads to upgrade your protein intake, as this recipe does, and as well include them in a delicious curry that you can accompany with steamed vegetables and rice to make it a satisfying and full meal.