Can You Eat Shrimp Shells?(Complete Guide)


Note: As an amazon associate I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases if you click to amazon from my site and choose to make a purchase.You can read my complete affiliate disclosure for more details

Can You Eat Shrimp Shells?

Shrimp shells are the external skeleton of shrimp. The hard and robust shell contains many small pores that help the shrimp breathe by drawing in water across their gills, where they extract oxygen and expel carbon dioxide out of their body.

Shrimp shells comprise mostly calcium carbonate, which allows them to be solid yet flexible at all points when alive.

Yes, And for a variety of reasons. Let’s first look at the nutritional value: Shells of shrimp are high in selenium, a cancer-fighting mineral shown to reduce the risk of prostate and colon cancer. Their shells also have iron and zinc wrapping, two minerals that help to regulate blood pressure levels.

Iron is also essential for hemoglobin production (the substance that carries oxygen through the bloodstream) and the synthesis of red blood cells.

Shellfish is also a great source of DHA, an essential fatty acid that plays a vital role in maintaining normal brain and cognitive function.

If you have a sensitive taste, shellfish has a distinct flavor that can be quite delicious. Most people describe an earthy flavor as delicate, sweet, and not overpowering.

On top of the health benefits, it’s a terrific source of protein, and that too in a complete form. The protein in shrimp shells is complete, meaning it has all eight essential amino acids the human body cannot synthesize.

This is essential for any vegan and anyone following a vegetarian or plant-based diet. Here is an in-depth article about the nutritional value of shrimp for vegans.

Another great thing about shellfish is that it provides a very non-fishy taste and smell.

The flavor also enhances when you cook it with some seasoning. The best way to do this is by steaming or poaching it, which are easy ways to cook shellfish and keep the nutrients intact.

Nutritional Benefits of Shrimp and Prawn Shells

Shrimp shells boast chitin, minerals, and proteins, which means they can protect plants, as a litter for organic waste, and in bioplastics.

Many restaurants and companies are switching to chitin-based materials to be more sustainable.

But the benefits don’t stop there. Check out these other seven uses for shrimp shells.

Uses Explanations
Cooking Oil Additive/Frying oil additive You can use it to make less dense fryer oil last longer and less likely to form trans-fat when exposed to high heat.

You can also use shrimp shell powder in other oils, such as palm oil, coconut oil, and linseed oil.
Additives to increase the concrete strength Chitin is a natural, biodegradable material that you can use to strengthen the concrete production process.

Chitin improves the strength of concrete by as much as 20 percent and decreases the amount of cement that needs adding by 20 percent
Coffee Additive Add a spoonful of shrimp shell powder to your coffee grounds before brewing to add some crunch and health benefits.
Additive for Paper  Chitin makes the paper stronger, more water resistant, and more flexible.
Additive for Printing ink  Studies have found that one can use chitin in printing ink to make the surface smoother, improve its durability, and increase its resistance to humidity.
Food Additive  One can use the chitin of shrimp shells in various foods, including ice cream, candy, cereal, and sports drinks.

Can You Eat the Black Stuff In Shrimp?

Yes! You can eat the black stuff in shrimp. There’s likely a piece of the black stuff in your shrimp right now. It’s called the ink sac, and it’s not just gross for looking at but also for taste. The shrimp gets its flavor from the ink.

The sacs have a substance called melanin. When the shrimp is alive, it stores some ink to help defend itself against predators. When you cook shrimp, the ink spills out and adds flavor to your meal, but don’t worry, and it’s not toxic.

Can You Eat Shrimp Shells?

This fruity flavor is one reason shrimp is a popular ingredient in many cuisines.

However, the ink is why fresh shrimp doesn’t taste as good as the stuff you buy in the grocery store. The ink sac fills with air and expands when you freeze and thaw your shrimp.

It also dries out fast, causing that black color and that not-so-great shrimp flavor. You can avoid this by buying frozen or canned products instead.

Ways to Cook Shrimp Shells

There are a few different ways to cook shrimp shells.

 Ways to Cook Shrimp Shells
MethodProcess
BoilingYou can boil the shells in a pot filled with water on the stove. Boil them for approximately 10 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.
PoachingYou can also poach the shrimp shells in a pot of boiling water with some salt added to the pot.

This will help season them as they cook, but be careful not to boil them too long-the shell may dissolve or fall apart (or both).
GrillingWhen you’re grilling shrimp, don’t throw away the shells. Crank up your grill and throw the shells on there. They’ll cook quickly and turn a beautiful color.
SmokingYou can also smoke the shrimp shells in your smoker or BBQ smoker. This is a BBQ version of poaching.
BarbequingBake or grill the shells in the oven or on the BBQ in a smoker. This is especially good if you’re making shrimp salad.
pressure cookingThis is one great way to cook shrimp shells since it produces very little liquid and great-tasting shrimp.
FreeingYou can also freeze the shrimp shells. If you’re freezing them for later use, it’s best to dip them into a large pot of boiling water before freezing to sterilize them (which will help kill any bacteria that might be on the shells).

Do Shrimp Shells Have Calories?

Yes! Shrimp shells boast 84 calories per 85 g serving. But because they are so small and you usually eat them whole, it’s unlikely that a serving will contain more than 86 calories.

Number of calories in a shrimp shell:

  • 85 g serving – 84 calories
  • 86 g serving – no more than 86 calories.

That means that if you eat 1/8 of the 85g portion, that’s enough to have the equivalent impact on your weight as an apple.

However, you need to consider the other food factors.

1 ServingGrams
Carbs0.02
Fat0.14
Proteins11

As you can see, there are absolutely no carbs in shrimp shells. And the fats and proteins only make up for a small percentage of shrimp’s total calories, mainly from carbs.

There are a fixed number of calories per gram. So, 60% of calories are in carbs and fat, and 40% of calories are in proteins (it’s why the protein content is so low).

If we use this ratio for our diet, we could easily burn 100 calories from eating a single serving of shrimp shells. And for most people, this wouldn’t even be enough to make you feel slightly fuller. You have to consider the portion size of the shrimps compared to the plate size.

So, if you were to eat a whole plateful of shrimp shells and cut it in half, then eat 1/8 of that piece and weigh it, you’d only have 89 calories.

The problem is that most people eat way too much food to burn a few calories from eating a single serving.

Why Do Restaurants Not Remove Tails from Shrimp?

Leaving the tails on:

  • Makes the food more attractive.
  • Adds flavor to the dish.
  • Makes the shrimp look larger.
  • A crunchy and tasty addition to the dish.

Some restaurants like to leave the tails on and serve additional shrimp detailed after it’s already in the customer’s mouth.

But according to restaurant employees, this process is both time-consuming and difficult since they are often up against a deadline to make all their big dishes and appetizers in time for their busy dinner.

But it’s not as time-consuming as you might think. It would take too long to cook the shrimp without removing the tails, and there wouldn’t be enough time for the other aspects of the meal to have time to bake or grill.

Japan, China, and Korea commonly believe that eating shrimp without its tail is not good since it’s like a sort of filter for bacteria and other harmful substances.

It’s also widely believed that eating the tail increases your energy and vitality.

Is It Safe To Eat Shrimp Shells?

Yes! Eating shrimp shells is harmless for humans and the environment. The shells make fertilizer for plants, mostly using a process called “milling.” This method releases less ammonia into the atmosphere than conventional fertilizer methods.

In addition, shrimp shells help maintain pH balance in soil by providing nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium that build up soil structure. This helps crops grow better while reducing acidic runoff into waterways and groundwater aquifers.

Nutritional Value

Shrimp shells are high in protein and dietary fiber and provide a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids. They contain high calcium and phosphorous levels, essential for growth and development.

Crushed into smaller pieces, shrimp shells contain approximately 60% protein, 25% carbohydrates, 3% fat, and 7 % minerals.

They are multi-functional, and one can use them as a substitute for fish meal, poultry feed, and dietary fiber in animal feed, or pelletized and used as a soil amendment to improve soil quality and reduce acidic runoff.

Shrimp shells are also great for composting in both home and commercial applications. Because they are a natural source of calcium, they help balance the pH level in compost piles and stimulate microorganisms.

They add nitrogen, carbon, and other minerals to the process, thus reducing odor problems that may occur with some compost materials.

Do Shrimp Shells Contain Collagen?

Shrimp shells contain 60-75% collagen content which is important for youthful skin, hair, and nails. The shells are also great food for reducing scars and stretch marks.

Shrimp protein is one of the most versatile in terms of nutrition. Experts believe it’s the complete protein and one of the best sources of naturally occurring collagen and omega-3 fatty acids. The high-quality protein in shrimp shells is gluten-free, vegan, and great for any diet.

Collagen helps heal wounds and reduce scars and stretch marks. It’s also great for hair, nails, and skin.

Studies have shown that dietary collagen supplementation (particularly in dried shrimp shells) may promote a faster healing rate in people with diabetes.

Can You Eat Shrimp Shells?

Shrimp shells contain over 60% protein, a significant amount given that most other foods only provide approximately 20% protein content.

This high protein level is a key advantage of shrimp shells, providing all amino acids necessary for optimal health and development.

Shrimp protein is an excellent source of amino acids, such as arginine, tyrosine, and glutamine. These are some of the most important amino acids responsible for skin, hair, and nail health.

What Do Shrimp And Prawn Shells Taste Like?

Shrimp shells taste like shrimp. They are crunchy and delicate, which is very much in line with what shrimp taste like. The shells have a cleaner flavor than the shrimp’s body, and one can use them as a light snack or to flavor soups and stocks for extra seafood flavor.

Prawn shells differ greatly from shrimp shells. They are firmer in texture and stronger-tasting. Eating the prawn shell is sort of like biting into a hard-boiled egg.

The shell has a slightly nutty flavor, which goes well with many dishes or to stuff inside stuffed mushrooms for decoration.

Interestingly, the shells are almost completely indigestible, with their only by-product being a hard, chalky prawn shell husk made of calcium phosphate.

You can use prawn and shrimp shells in various ways – in soups and sauces, used as a garnish on many dishes, or fried into shrimp chips. You can also eat the shells by placing them in your mouth, scavenging for the shrimp’s flesh.

However, it’s not suitable to eat the raw shells, as they may contain parasites that can harm the body.

How You Can Cook Shrimp with Their Shells On? – Steps

Cooking shrimp with their shells on is one of the tastiest and healthiest ways to prepare this tasty seafood treat. It takes a few additional minutes, but it is worth the effort. Here are a few steps:

  1. Remove the head from the shrimp, then peel off its shell and tail. The easiest way to do this is by pulling them apart at their seam line with your fingers (don’t worry about getting every bit of shell off).
  2. Rinse the shrimp well under the tap. After rinsing them, set them aside to drain.
  3. When you’re ready to cook, pick up each shrimp in your hand and make a slit down its back where its shell connects with their body and run your thumb along this area to cut away the inner membrane that connects the shell and body of the shrimp.
  4. Pull off the tail as you did earlier, then pull off the legs (do not discard).
  5. Fill your pot with about 3/4 full and bring it to a boil, then add the shrimp, cover, and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the parsley, tomato sauce, lemon juice, and seasonings. Cook medium-low heat until the shrimp are opaque (about 4-5 minutes). Be careful not to overcook them, or they become rubbery.
  7. Remove the pot from the heat, then serve immediately. Serve with rice and add some sautéed vegetables if you like.

Should You Eat Shrimp Heads?

Yes! Shrimp heads are a delicacy, not a food staple, to eat daily. Many other protein sources can provide the same nutrients without all the risks. However, they make tasty snacks. They don’t have many calories and can help cleanse your digestive system.

Shrimp heads are easy to digest and are low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol. They contain high amounts of protein, B12 vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids that help cardiovascular health, the nervous system, and brain development.

They are also high in zinc, a mineral that helps the body build and maintain healthy immune systems.

“Many people prepare shrimp heads by boiling them in hot water until they turn pink.” This treatment can cause an upset stomach because of the smell; however, you can also use it to purify your system.

Boiled fruit is a great vitamin C and zinc source, but it doesn’t taste nearly as good as shrimp heads.

Shrimp heads are delicious if prepared properly. If you boil the heads with spices like garlic, parsley, and lemon juice, simmer for a few minutes (longer if you have a slow cooker); then serve over white rice.

Shrimp is an expensive food that not everyone can afford. Shrimp is high in cholesterol and fat; shrimps only contain 100 calories per serving.

Conclusion

Shrimp and prawns have been a part of the human diet for thousands of years. Yet only in the last generation or two has man begun to realize the true value of this particular food source.

Research has proven that shellfish is a very healthy food, with lots of protein and a rich supply of vitamins and minerals. Not only can seafood help to prevent disease, but it also reduces the risk of obtaining heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.

Tom

Hi! I' am Tom. I was a manager in one of the biggest stores for over 10 Years, am also an SEO by night. I don't like to call myself a blogger; they are very analytical, do email marketing, and know all SEO stuff. I faced many questions from customers about different products, and there was hardly any help on the internet. After learning all the things about these products as a manager the hard way, I decided to start a blog and help other people.

Recent Posts