The Skinny on Shrimp and Omega-3s

Dig into a tasty “skinny shrimp salad sandwich” to get a dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

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Search the web for "the benefits of eating shrimp," and you'll likely find a strand of links longer than your contact list. The same goes for several different kinds of fish. Why? Among other reasons, it's thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids. Let's break down the benefits of the most commonly eaten fish and take a deeper look at why you need to include omega-3s in your diet.

Jolynn Toma
Jolynn Toma
Shrimp

It's an excellent source of protein, vitamin D, vitamin B3 and zinc. Research suggests zinc increases your body's levels of leptin, which is a hormone that controls energy expenditure, fat storage and appetite. It's also a good source of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient astaxanthin, which helps protect the skin from premature aging. It's a very low-calorie food, clocking in at just about 7 calories per shrimp – which allows us to eat a relatively large amount without using too many of our overall daily calories.

Wild-Caught Salmon

Salmon is often the No. 1 fish people turn to for omega-3s, but it contains so much more. Recent studies have found that salmon contains bioactive peptides, which provide support for joint cartilage, insulin effectiveness and control of digestive tract inflammation. It ranks very high in vitamin B12, and much like shrimp, it packs a good dose of vitamin D – which enhances the intestine's absorption of calcium and phosphate. Some studies also suggest salmon improves bone mineral density, specifically for those age 65 or older.

[Read: Eating Fish During Pregnancy: What's the Right Approach?]

Halibut

Halibut is packed with close to 600 milligrams of tryptophan per serving. Tryptophan, an important amino acid, can help you sleep better and plays a role in regulating your appetite and improving your mood. Opting for broiled or baked halibut may reduce the risk of the most common type of heart arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation, especially in older folks. In one study, people who had halibut at least five times a week reduced their risk by 31 percent.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

You've probably been told and re-told that you need to get enough omega-3s in your diet. Why? Several studies indicate that these healthy fats prevent a wide range of medical problems. They can, for example, reduce inflammation in the body, prevent thickening of the arteries, help stave off cancer cell growth and much more. The top three foods highest in omega-3s are ground flaxseed, walnuts and salmon. Getting a mere two servings of baked or broiled fish per week, especially salmon and halibut, can be enough to significantly increase the level of omega-3s in your blood.

Now, go make yourself a sandwich and reap the benefits of health.

[Read: 11 Best Fish: High in Omega-3s—and Environment-Friendly.]

Skinny Shrimp Salad Sandwich

Serves 1

Ingredients:

3 ounces frozen cooked small shrimp with tails (1.3 ounces thawed and reheated, no tails)

1 hardboiled egg, chopped

1/2 celery stalk, diced

1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

Pinch of garlic powder

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

2 slices sprouted grain bread (or bread of your choice)

2 teaspoons coconut oil, divided

1 slice tomato

1 piece of lettuce

Directions:

1. Preheat a skillet over medium heat and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Add frozen shrimp to pan and sauté until lightly browned and completely thawed (about 2 to 3 minutes).

3. Remove from pan and allow to cool to touch.

4. Slice off and throw away the tails of the shrimp. Dice the remaining meat and put in a medium-sized bowl.

5. Add egg, celery, yogurt, garlic powder, red pepper, salt and pepper to bowl. Stir until well-combined. Set in refrigerator to chill.

6. Coat one side of each piece of bread with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil.

7. Preheat skillet to medium heat and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray.

8. Add bread to the skillet, oil side down.

9. Cook until browned and then remove from heat.

10. Add shrimp salad, lettuce and tomato to one piece of bread, grilled side down. Top with remaining slice of bread, grilled side up, and enjoy.

[Read: 8 Easy Ways to Load Up on Healthy Omega-3 Fats.]

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns and feedback.

Jolynn Toma has a bachelor's degree in marketing and is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, as well as an ISSA Specialist in Fitness Nutrition. She owns a private personal training studio in Illinois, specializing in strength training, cardio endurance and nutrition. Connect with her on her website, Lift Pray Love, or one of her many social outlets: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.