One of the most common questions asked about prawns and nutrition is in relation to their cholesterol content, and specifically should they be avoided if you have, or are at risk of high cholesterol levels? And the best news of all is that the answer is a resounding no!

Cholesterol is a naturally occurring substance that forms part of our cells and is made by the liver. Cholesterol is also found in the tissues of animal foods and as such consumed in diets that include meat, seafood, eggs and dairy.

What is extremely important to know is that when we consume cholesterol via food, it does not automatically increase cholesterol levels in our blood. Rather some people produce too much cholesterol in the liver for a range of reasons including genetics. From a lifestyle perspective a high intake of saturated fat from processed and animal based foods too can result in increases in cholesterol levels in the blood.

Of the research that is available that has specifically examined the relationship of prawns and cholesterol, it has been shown that whilst increasing your intake of prawns significantly (>3 x a week) does result in slight increases in the LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol, more importantly it also results in an increase in the ‘good’, HDL cholesterol levels. These increases in HDL levels were also significantly higher than the increases in LDL levels, suggesting that the positive fat ratios in prawns have no negative effect on heart disease risk overall (1).

When we take a closer look at the nutritional profile of Tropic Co Aussie Tiger prawns, not only do they have an exceptionally low saturated fat content, but they are also a good source of Omega-3 fat. Overall it is this positive mix of fats found in prawns that negate any issues relating to cholesterol content and cholesterol levels in the blood (2). This means that there is absolutely no cause for concern about prawns increasing blood cholesterol levels, and as such there is no need to be concerned or restrict them in your diet even if you have elevated cholesterol. Rather from a dietary perspective keeping your overall intake of saturated fat low by reducing your intake of processed and fried foods is far more important.

From a cholesterol and heart heath perspective, the other thing to be mindful of is how you enjoy your Tropic Co Tiger Prawns – fresh, grilled, BBQ’d or marinated is the go, whilst deep frying your prawns or serving them with cream dressings such as aioli will increase the amount of saturated fat you are consuming, and should only be enjoyed occasionally to keep blood cholesterol levels controlled.

1) Soliman G. A. (2018). Dietary Cholesterol and the Lack of Evidence in Cardiovascular Disease. Nutrients, 10(6), 780. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10060780

2) E R De Oliveira e Silva, C E Seidman, J J Tian, L C Hudgins, F M Sacks, J L Breslow, Effects of shrimp consumption on plasma lipoproteins, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 64, Issue 5, November 1996, Pages 712–717, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/64.5.712

 

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