Skip to Content

Is shrimp and white rice healthy?

Shrimp and white rice is a popular dish in many cuisines around the world. Both shrimp and white rice have nutritional benefits, but also some drawbacks. This article will analyze the nutrition information of shrimp and white rice to determine if this dish is overall a healthy choice.

Nutrition in Shrimp

Shrimp is a type of shellfish that is low in calories and fat, but high in certain nutrients. Here is an overview of the nutrition found in 3 ounces (85 grams) of cooked shrimp:

Calories 84
Protein 18 grams
Fat 1 gram
Vitamin B12 24% of the RDI
Selenium 41% of the RDI
Copper 22% of the RDI
Phosphorus 20% of the RDI
Zinc 9% of the RDI

As you can see, shrimp is very high in protein, providing 18 grams in a 3 ounce serving. Protein is important for building muscle mass and keeping you feeling full.

Shrimp is also one of the best sources of selenium, an antioxidant mineral. Selenium plays a role in thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA production, and protecting the body from oxidative damage and infection.

The vitamin B12 found in shrimp is key for nerve tissue health and red blood cell formation.

Other nutrients like copper, phosphorus, and zinc are provided in smaller but decent amounts. Copper assists iron absorption and nerve conduction. Phosphorus supports bone health, while zinc benefits the immune system.

Overall, shrimp is low in calories but packs a punch of protein, selenium, vitamin B12, and other important nutrients.

Potential Drawbacks of Shrimp

There are a couple potential drawbacks to eating shrimp.

First, shrimp has high levels of cholesterol, with about 166 mg in a 3 ounce serving. The daily recommended limit for cholesterol intake is 300 mg, so a single shrimp meal may contain over half of your daily recommended amount.

However, dietary cholesterol may not significantly impact blood cholesterol levels for most people. Some people, called hyperresponders, are more sensitive to dietary cholesterol. For these individuals, minimizing high cholesterol foods like shrimp and eggs would be beneficial.

Second, shrimp is one of the more common food allergens, especially among children. Symptoms of shellfish allergy range from mild itching and hives to severe anaphylaxis.

For most people this is not a concern, but it’s something to be aware of, especially when feeding shrimp to kids for the first time.

Nutrition in White Rice

Now let’s analyze the nutritional value of white rice. Here is an overview of the nutrients provided in 1 cup (158 grams) of cooked white rice:

Calories 205
Carbs 44 grams
Protein 4 grams
Fat 0 grams
Manganese 12% of the RDI
Niacin 11% of the RDI
Thiamine 7% of the RDI
Copper 7% of the RDI
Magnesium 3% of the RDI
Phosphorus 3% of the RDI

White rice is mostly carbohydrates, providing 44 grams per cup. It’s low in fiber and protein. Rice does contain a small amount of manganese, niacin, copper and other micronutrients.

However, white rice is not as nutrient-dense as brown rice. This is because the bran and germ layers are removed during processing. Those outer layers contain more fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Potential Drawbacks of White Rice

There are a couple reasons white rice may not be the healthiest choice:

– Because the fiber is removed, white rice has a high glycemic index, which means it is digested and absorbed very quickly, leading to spikes in blood sugar. This can be problematic for people with diabetes.

– The lack of fiber also means white rice doesn’t provide the same feeling of fullness as high fiber foods like vegetables and legumes. This may lead to overeating.

– Without the bran, white rice is low in many vitamins and minerals. Enriched rice aims to replace some of these lost nutrients through fortification.

Overall white rice is fine in moderation as part of a balanced diet. But it lacks much nutritional value on its own compared to whole grains.

Putting it Together: Is Shrimp and White Rice Healthy?

Now that we’ve analyzed the nutrients in shrimp and white rice individually, let’s evaluate them combined:


– Shrimp provides plenty of protein, selenium, vitamin B12 and other nutrients

– White rice adds some manganese, niacin and carbs for energy

– Together they offer a complete protein with all the essential amino acids

– Can be part of a balanced diet in moderation


– High cholesterol content from the shrimp

– Lack of fiber, vitamins and minerals in white rice

– Spikes in blood sugar from the white rice

– Possibility of allergic reaction to shrimp


In conclusion, having shrimp and white rice occasionally as part of a varied diet is fine for most people. But this meal could be improved by switching to brown rice, doubling up on veggies, and limiting portion sizes to control cholesterol intake. Enjoying shrimp and rice only rarely or in small amounts is likely the healthiest approach. At the end of the day, it’s about balance.

Tips for Making Shrimp and Rice Healthier

Here are some tips to make shrimp and rice healthier while keeping it tasty:

– Use brown rice instead of white. This adds fiber, vitamins and minerals.

– Load up on vegetables like broccoli, carrots, peppers and mushrooms. They provide nutrients and displace some of the rice.

– Choose wild caught shrimp when possible, as it is more sustainable.

– Enjoy shrimp in moderation to limit cholesterol intake. 4-6 medium shrimp is a good serving size.

– Use healthy cooking methods like steaming, grilling, baking or air frying instead of frying.

– Flavor with herbs, spices, citrus and other plant based seasonings instead of salt.

– Make a stir fry with shrimp, brown rice, veggies and reduced sodium soy sauce.

– Make burrito bowls with cilantro lime rice, sauteed shrimp and avocado.

– Enjoy shrimp and rice as a side dish instead of the main part of your meal.

With some simple modifications, shrimp and rice can be a nutritious part of your diet when enjoyed alongside plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins. Moderating portions is key to keeping this dish balanced.

Healthy Shrimp and Rice Recipes

Here are some delicious recipes that give this classic duo a nutritious makeover:

Cajun Shrimp and Sausage with Brown Rice

Spice up your shrimp and rice with the bold Cajun flavors of paprika, thyme, cayenne and sausage. Onion, bell pepper, tomatoes and chicken broth amp up nutrition.

Shrimp Fried Rice with Veggies

By using brown rice, you can still enjoy takeout-style shrimp fried rice. Bulk it up with carrots, peas, eggs and green onions for added nutrition.

Shrimp Quinoa Tabouleh

Swap white rice for protein-packed quinoa. Toss in cucumber, tomato, parsley and mint for a fresh Mediterranean twist.

Coconut Shrimp with Cilantro Lime Rice

Coconut shrimp gets a tasty crust from coconut flour, almond flour and coconut flakes. Serve alongside zesty cilantro lime rice.

Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya

Jambalaya transforms shrimp and rice into a hearty one-pot meal. Boost nutrition with the classic Creole trio of onions, peppers and celery.


Shrimp and white rice can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet, but should not be a daily meal due to the high cholesterol content of shrimp and lack of nutrients in white rice. Switching to brown rice, adding plenty of vegetables, and limiting portions of shrimp helps make this classic dish healthier. With some simple tweaks, you can still enjoy the delicious combination of shrimp and rice. Moderation and variety are key when incorporating this into your meal plan.