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Healthy Table: Shrimp has a place in a heart-friendly diet

Shrimp was once considered taboo for those pursuing a heart-healthy diet because of its slightly elevated cholesterol content.


But cholesterol isn’t the only factor to consider.

Although shrimp has about twice the cholesterol as other types of meat, it is extremely low in artery-clogging saturated fat.

Research suggests that dietary cholesterol is less of a heart danger than saturated fat. That means shrimp has a place on your plate whether you have heart disease or not. Just keep the portion size moderate — 3 to 4 ounces — and enjoy it baked, grilled, broiled, boiled or stir-fried.

About 300 species exist worldwide and are generally classified as warm-water or cold-water shrimp. As a general rule, the colder the water, the smaller and more succulent the shrimp.

When purchasing fresh, raw shrimp for this recipe, let your nose be your guide. Raw shrimp should smell of the sea with no hint of ammonia. Keep in mind that virtually all shrimp is frozen immediately after being caught and then thawed, so use raw, unfrozen shrimp the same day it’s purchased. Shrimp meat should be firm and the shells should be shiny. Avoid shrimp with black spots, a sign of aging.

Other things you may notice when purchasing raw shrimp is they vary in color, from pink, to reddish brown, to light gray, and even dark green. They also come in a wide range of sizes.

Names like “jumbo” and “extra-large” are not standardized and mean little when buying shrimp. Instead, look for the count on the label. Shrimp is usually sold by the number needed to yield 1 pound. So, the lower the count, the bigger the shrimp.

Finally, federal law requires that retailers list the country of origin on fresh and frozen seafood, and whether the item is caught wild or raised on a farm.

Darlene Zimmerman is a registered dietitian in Henry Ford Hospital’s Heart Vascular Institute. For questions about today’s recipe, call 313-972-1920.

Sweet and Sour Shrimp

Serves: 5 / Preparation time: 15 minutes / Total time: 40 minutes

8 ounces large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided

2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided

1 can (8 ounces) pineapple chunks, packed in juice

1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

3 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons rice or cider vinegar, divided

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled, minced

2 teaspoons grated gingerroot

1/2 cup julienned carrots

1/2 cup green pepper, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1/2 cup snow peas, cut in half on the diagonal

1/2 cup onion, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained

31/3 cups cooked brown rice (prepared without salt or fat)

3 to 4 green onions, green parts only, thinly sliced, optional

In a small bowl, toss shrimp with 2 tablespoons soy sauce and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes. Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Dissolve remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch in reserved pineapple juice. To pineapple juice mixture, add chicken broth, sugar, 3 tablespoons vinegar, tomato paste and remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce.

Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, gingerroot and shrimp to wok and stir-fry 1 minute. Add carrots, green pepper, snow peas and onion and stir-fry 2 to 4 minutes. Add pineapple juice mixture and continue to cook 1 minute or until sauce bubbles and thickens. Add pineapple chunks and water chestnuts and heat through. Remove from heat and stir in remaining tablespoon vinegar.

Garnish with sliced green onions if desired. One serving contains about 3/4 cup sweet and sour shrimp over 2/3 cup brown rice.

Created by Darlene Zimmerman, MS, RD, and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

347 calories (18% from fat), 7 grams fat (1 gram sat. fat, 0 grams trans fat), 57 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams protein, 430 mg sodium, 69 mg cholesterol, 59 mg calcium, 5 grams fiber. Food exchanges: 2 starch, 3 vegetable, 1 fruit, 1 lean meat, 1 fat.

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