Shrimp have long been on the average dietitian’s “bad” list. The belief was that lobster, crabs, clams, shrimp and other shellfish were high in cholesterol, and therefore detrimental to cardiovascular health. But according to the L.A. Times, the oft-cited information is completely wrong. Accurate measurements reveal that shellfish – even shrimp – are quite low in cholesterol.
Of course, the theory that dietary cholesterol somehow translates to high LDL blood cholesterol – and further, heart disease – is one of rapidly eroding merit. (See Mary Enig’s critique of the lipid hypothesis for more research and information on this.) In truth, avoiding particular foods because of their cholesterol content – whether it’s grass-fed beef or eggs or shellfish – is not only unnecessary, but possibly foolish. In keeping with our Primal Health discussions here at MDA, I am firmly convinced that the national nutritional guidelines which recommend strict avoidance of natural, nutritious foods containing saturated fat – and cholesterol – in favor of highly refined products made from grains are clearly contributing to our epidemics of obesity, type 2 diabetes, “syndrome X”, and possibly depression and arthritis. And the list goes on…
Now, whether we ought to be eating shellfish in light of environmental considerations is another question. Clean, fresh shellfish of all sorts are high in many important nutrients and our primal ancestors certainly ate oysters, shrimp, abalone, clams, and lobster in abundance – depending, of course, on geographical location. Your thoughts?
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.