Monday, May 17, 2010

Gulp! Gulf of Mexico Seafood in Peril

The fate of fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico is being determined by winds and waves as the oil spill caused by the BP drilling rig explosion continues to spread and threaten important fishing grounds in and around the Gulf of Mexico. While layers of federal, state and local authorities work with oil industry officials to deal with and contain the spill, it’s the job of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (a bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce) to monitor seafood safety. NOAA has already moved to close some fishing grounds and oyster beds to protect consumers from contaminated products. In the case of shrimp, a great deal of the supply provided to supermarkets and restaurants is frozen and therefore safe because it could have been harvested long before the spill occurred. Will there be a shortage of Gulf coast shrimp this summer? Will the spill move down to the Keys and around to the east coast of Florida affecting fisheries there? These are questions on the minds of everyone who loves seafood from these areas and yet to be determined. One thing for sure, shrimp is incredibly popular food all around the world and certainly offers significant nutrition. As the saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. So let’s salute to the taste and health benefits of shrimp as we continue to follow the containment of the Gulf oil spill.

Shrimp Cholesterol Not a Threat

If you've been avoiding shrimp because you’ve heard that these crustaceans are high in cholesterol, you're wrong and right. Shrimp do contain relatively high levels of dietary cholesterol - 166 milligrams of cholesterol per three ounces of steamed shrimp. But, shrimp is very low in saturated fat, the kind of fat given the biggest blame for raising blood cholesterol levels. It turns out that the cholesterol in foods we eat has less of an impact on blood cholesterol than saturated fats. Researchers at The Rockefeller University in New York found that when volunteers ate shrimp along with foods that were low in saturated fat, their blood lipid ratios remained balanced So the net-net, as you cast your net to find heart healthy seafood, is that shrimp's overall nutritional profile places it on the list of the dietary good guys. The same goes for shrimp's crustacean cousins, lobster and crab.
Pass the Lemons Please

Add a spritz of fresh lemon or lime juice or a splash of hot sauce and you'll keep the calories low-84 calories per three ounce serving (10 large shrimp). Fresh salsas, savory fruit relishes and vinegar based marinades add flavors without added fat, too.
Of course, if you drench shrimp in drawn butter or drown them in cheese or cream sauces you're changing the nutritional picture by increasing the calories and the artery-clogging saturated fat content of the dish. Fried shrimp will be higher in fat and calories, too. In fact you can add 100 calories per ounce when you plunge shrimp into the deep fryer. Make sure to seek out restaurants that use trans-fat free oils.
Nothing Shrimpy about Shrimp’s Nutritional Benefits:
Nutritional Scorecard (3 ounces steamed shrimp, about 10 large shrimp): 84 calories, 0.9 g total fat, 0 g carbohydrate, 166 mg cholesterol, 17.8 g protein.

 Nearly fat free, low in calories
 High in protein
 Good source of cardio-protective omega-3 fatty acids. Four ounces of shrimp provide 14.8% of your daily need for these protective fats.
 Excellent source of mineral selenium- associated with lowered risk of cancer
 Excellent source of vitamin B12 and - a four-ounce serving of shrimp delivers 28.2% of the daily value for vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is one of the nutrients needed to control levels of homocysteine, a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
 Mineral-rich, supplying iron, zinc and copper.
 Low in mercury and other environmental contaminants. For a complete list of mercury levels in seafood: .
Nutritional Scorecard (3 ounces steamed shrimp, 10 large shrimp): 84 calories, 0.9 g total fat, 0 g carbohydrate, 166 mg cholesterol, 17.8 g protein.

Condiment Calories
Clarified butter-120 cal/ tablespoon
Tartar sauce-70 cal/tablespoon
Cocktail sauce- 20 cal/ tablespoon

NOAA Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Closings
This link leads you to a map of closed fisheries in the Gulf, as of May 17th.

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