Shrimp Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/03/22 •  12 min read
shrimp benefits and side effects

HEALTH

Energy: shrimp is bad for / increases the risk of memory loss from PBCs, sickness from bacterial contamination, seafood is the number one cause of food poisoning in the United States, which leads to many side effects and causes extreme discomfort, high levels of mercury can lead to depression and anxiety

Longevity: shrimp is bad for / increases the risk of antibiotic resistance, toxic chemicals known to cause cancer and brain degeneration, toxic contaminants and heavy metals from polluted water habitats, PBCs may cause liver damage, nervous system disorders, and fetal damage, dioxins, also linked to cancer and death, radioactive substances like strontium 90 and other dangerous contaminants like cadmium, mercury poisoning, lead, chromium, and arsenic, which can cause health problems such as kidney damage, impaired mental development and cancer, high levels of mercury can lead to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, mercury exposure can also lead to high blood pressure, an increased risk of heart attacks and higher LDL (bad) cholesterol

Appearance: shrimp is good for / helps hair growth, hair health

Shrimp is…

a kids book about plant based eating
Teach Kids Where Our Food Comes From. Look Inside!

ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: unknown

Carbon footprint: high, 7.05 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of farmed, frozen shrimp, a car driving equivalent of 16.25 miles or 26 kilometers

Destruction: high, shrimp production is relatively destructive, negative impact on marine ecosystems, discarded fishing nets pollute oceans, fishing damages coral, sponges and poses severe threat to marine habitats

Shrimp is…

ANIMALS

Kills: shrimp, a decapod crustacean, must be killed in order to produce shrimp

Harms: shrimp, a decapod crustacean, must be used in order to produce shrimp, farmed fish spend their entire lives (up to two years) confined in tightly packed spaces, most farmed fish are predators and eat smaller fish, billions of wild fish must be caught in order to feed them, it can take several pounds of ocean fish to produce just one pound of farmed fish 

Indirectly kills or harms: sea-life, such as dolphins, sea turtles, protected fish, whales, seabirds etc. known as “bycatch”, unwanted marine life that unintentionally get caught, hooked and entangled in fishing nets

Shrimp is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: hazardous, fishing workers are at risk of accident, injury, and death, reports show 20% of workers and almost 50% of trafficked victims have been injured on the job, injuries include cuts, broken bone, lost fingers, hands and limbs, head injuries, electrocutions, workers get caught in machinery, get thrown overboard, deaths are reported, boat decks are slippery and in constant motion, there can be hazardous machinery present

Living conditions: poor, fishing boats often lack toilets, intensive labor, rapid exhaustion, workers are held at sea and work against their will, they load catch onto bigger, commercial fishing boats in exchange for food and supplies, seafood caught illegally from slave worker boats gets mixed in with legal, commercial fishing boats in order to remain undetected, boats filled with trafficked migrants do not dock, sometimes for years, keeping slave workers unseen, trapped at sea, continuing forced labor and abuse, fishing industries around the world are responsible for systematic, illegal, fishing practices, human rights abuse, fishing workers are vulnerable to human trafficking and slave labor, in countries like Thailand (the third largest seafood exporter in the world), Burma, Indonesia, and Fiji seafood slavery is a major issue for migrant workers originally from Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, seafood consumed in the United States is mostly from foreign sources

Wages: low, recruiters promise well paying jobs to poor, unskilled and vulnerable laborers, recruiters trick migrants into thinking they must work to pay off their debts, referred to as “debt peonage”, and little to no compensation for their work is given for long periods and maybe even years and are paid below the minimum wage 

Shrimp…

Where does most shrimp come from?

The world’s top shrimp exporting country is India, followed by Indonesia, Ecuador, Vietnam, Argentina, Thailand, Spain, Mexico, China and Bangladesh. Thailand is the third largest seafood exporter in the world and one of the world’s largest shrimp exporters. About 80% of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported.

Is shrimp nutritious?

Shrimp is high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids and the antioxidant astaxanthin but is high in sodium and often contains antibiotics.

shrimp is acidic.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is shrimp alkaline or acidic? Shrimp is acidic once digested.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

shrimp is gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is shrimp gluten free? Yes, shrimp is gluten free. Shrimp does not contain gluten when unseasoned and unbreaded. Shrimp is a type of crustacean shellfish, therefore making it a naturally gluten free food. 

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

shrimp is a common food allergen: crustacean shellfish.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is shrimp a common food allergen? Yes, shrimp is a common food allergen: crustacean shellfish. Many people experience allergic reactions to shrimp.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

shrimp contains low levels of mercury.

mercury levels in seafood and fish have dangerous side effects

Is shrimp high in mercury? No, compared to other kinds of seafood, shrimp is relatively low in mercury but contains mercury nevertheless.

Mercury is metal that produces toxic effects to the body. If consumed in high quantities it poisons the kidneys and nervous system. Mercury occurs naturally at low levels in rock, water and soil. However, human activity (most notably the burning of fossil fuels) has dangerously increased mercury levels to be around 450% higher than natural. 

Air pollutants from coal burning factories, for example, can travel around the world into lakes, rivers, and oceans. It is then absorbed and ingested by small aquatic organisms and starts working its way up the food chain.

Large, predatory fish on top of the food chain the highest levels of mercury, namely:

All fish and shellfish contain at least some traces of mercury. Nearly all mercury that we acquire within our bodies comes from eating seafood.

Too much mercury can cause the following symptoms:

The only way to ensure you do not consume mercury is to eliminate seafood from your diet entirely. Fish and crustaceans can be replaced by foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as D and B2 (riboflavin). 

Here’s an excellent book for further information on seafood: Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood by Taras Grescoe

shrimp has a high carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

There are a number of steps we can take to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

shrimp is unsustainable.

side effects of seafood, unsustainable food that pollutes oceans with plastic

Whether farmed or wild caught, the seafood industry is environmentally destructive due to its direct impact on decreasing marine populations, polluting waters and habitat destruction.

Wild-caught fish and seafood is destructive due to overfishing (when populations die at a greater rate than they are able to replenish). Degraded ecosystems occur as a result and creates an imbalance that impacts important food chains. Consequently, vulnerable aquatic species like sea turtles and coral suffer. Scientists predict oceans will be fishless by 2048. Such a major loss in biodiversity would be catastrophic, as oceans regulate temperature and contribute to half of our oxygen on Earth.

There’s also an alarming amount of plastic pollution in our oceans. Abandoned and lost fishing gear make up more than 85% of all plastic pollution. Nets, traps and hooks continue to kill marine life. According to Greenpeace, “Abandoned fishing nets kill and injure more than 100,000 whales, dolphins, seals and turtles each year”.

Fish farming, or aquafarming, is not a sustainable alternative. Not only do farmed fish need to be fed fish to eat (perpetuating a never-ending cycle of fishing) but waters become contaminated with antibiotics (to prevent disease that inevitably occurs with overcrowded fish confinements), pesticides, parasites and fish feces. The toxic water then spreads to waterways and oceans, polluting ecosystems and eventually killing off wild fish populations.

All of the aforementioned fishing practices occur in order to meet global demand. The obvious solution for protecting our Earth’s oceans and waterways, marine habitats, ecosystems and wildlife is for consumers to significantly reduce or eliminate their seafood demand entirely.

shrimp is not vegan.

seafood and fish is not vegan

Is shrimp vegan? No, shrimp is not vegan. Shrimp is a type of crustacean, a living marine animal, therefore making it an animal-derived food. A shrimp must be killed in order to produce shrimp. 

Animals of factory farming are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. Growth hormones allow all kinds of animals to become fatter faster and live short lives.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non-Vegan Foods List

shrimp is a product with labor issues.

labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues for the fishing industry

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

shrimp – FoodData Central

Shrimp | Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife – WDFW

World Wide Fund for Nature: Overfishing

Animal equality: 4 WAYS THE FISHING INDUSTRY IS DESTROYING THE PLANET

NRDC: Mercury Guide

Global Citizen: The 6 Worst Foods To Buy If You Care About Humanity

How many animals are killed for food every day

Adriane Marie

As an educator, author and conscious consumer advocate, I study and organize ethical info for you to quickly see how our purchases impact animals, people and the planet. I hope you find this HEALabel knowledge useful and can apply it to your life for personal and societal improvement and empowerment.