Skip to Content

Is white rice and shrimp healthy?

White rice and shrimp are common ingredients used in many cuisines around the world. While they can be part of a healthy diet, there are some potential concerns with eating too much of these foods. This article will examine the nutritional content of white rice and shrimp and discuss the health impacts of including them regularly in your diet.

Nutrition content of white rice

White rice is a refined grain that has had the bran and germ removed. This leaves mostly the starchy endosperm which is lower in fiber, vitamins, and minerals compared to brown rice.

A 1 cup serving (158g) of cooked white rice nutrition provides:

Calories 205
Protein 4.2g
Carbohydrates 44.2g
Fat 0.4g
Fiber 0.6g
Sodium 0.9mg
Iron 0.8mg
Calcium 10mg
Potassium 55mg

As you can see, white rice is low in fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein compared to whole grains. The protein in white rice is incomplete, meaning it lacks certain essential amino acids. The main nutrient white rice provides is carbohydrates in the form of starch.

Nutrition content of shrimp

Shrimp are a type of crustacean seafood that are low in fat and calories but provide a good amount of certain nutrients:

A 3 ounce (85g) serving of cooked shrimp nutrition contains:

Calories 84
Protein 18g
Carbohydrates 1g
Fat 1g
Cholesterol 166mg
Sodium 148mg
Potassium 189mg
Selenium 34mcg
Vitamin B12 1.4mcg

Shrimp provide a good source of lean protein and are rich in selenium, an antioxidant mineral. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids, although at lower levels than fatty fish like salmon. The main nutritional downsides of shrimp are the high cholesterol content and sodium levels.

Benefits of white rice

Here are some potential benefits of adding white rice to your diet in moderation:

Easy to digest – The grain has been refined and stripped of fiber and other compounds, making it easy on digestive systems. This makes white rice a good option for those with gastrointestinal issues who may not tolerate whole grains well.

Low in fat and sodium – White rice itself has minuscule amounts of fat and sodium, even before adding seasonings and toppings. This makes it a low-calorie foundation for meals.

Gluten-free – Rice does not contain gluten, so white rice can be enjoyed as part of a gluten-free diet. This provides a carb option for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Long shelf-life – The grains have a long storage life and last for years in pantries when kept dry and sealed. This makes rice an economical pantry staple.

Benefits of shrimp

Here are some of the main benefits that shrimp can provide as part of a healthy diet:

High in protein – Shrimp offer a concentrated source of protein providing around 20g per 100g serving. This makes them useful for building and maintaining muscle.

Contains selenium – Shrimp are an excellent source of the mineral selenium, providing over 50% of the RDI in a 3 ounce serving. Selenium supports immune function and thyroid health.

Rich in vitamin B12 – A serving of shrimp covers over 50% of your daily needs for vitamin B12, which supports nerve tissue and red blood cell health.

Low in calories – With under 100 calories per serving, shrimp are a lean source of protein that can help with weight goals.

Good source of omega-3s – Shrimp contain small amounts of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.

Downsides of white rice

While white rice can be incorporated into a healthy diet, there are some potential downsides to consider:

Lower in nutrients – Milling and refining processes strip out the fiber, vitamins, and minerals of rice. This leaves white rice much lower in overall nutrition compared to brown rice and other whole grains.

May cause blood sugar spikes – Since the bran has been removed, white rice is digested very quickly and can cause surges in blood sugar after meals. This may be concerning for those with diabetes.

Linked to weight gain – Diets high in refined grains like white rice have been associated with increased abdominal fat and obesity risk in some studies.

Contains antinutrients – Rice bran contains compounds like phytic acid that may inhibit mineral absorption. Complete removal of the bran maximizes this effect with white rice.

Linked to heart risks – Replacing whole grains with refined grains like white rice has been tied to increased heart disease in large cohort studies.

Downsides of shrimp

While shrimp offer several nutritional benefits, there are also some cautions to be aware of with regular shrimp consumption:

High cholesterol levels – A typical serving of shrimp contains over 150mg cholesterol, which is over half of the recommended 300mg daily limit.

Risk of contamination – Shrimp harvested from polluted waters can accumulate heavy metals and other toxins that may pose health risks when consumed frequently.

High sodium content – Farmed shrimp is often treated with sodium compounds during processing, resulting in higher sodium levels compared to fresh caught.

Allergy risk – Shellfish like shrimp are among the most common food allergens, causing potentially severe allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

Sustainability concerns – Some shrimp farming practices have raised environmental concerns, so sourcing shrimp sustainably is important.

Optimal intake recommendations

Based on their respective nutritional profiles, here are some recommendations for how much white rice and shrimp to eat as part of a healthy balanced diet:

White rice:
– Limit to 1-2 servings per week as a substitute for other refined grains
– Keep portions to 1/2 – 1 cup cooked rice
– Choose enriched rice to replace some lost nutrients
– Pair with fiber-rich veggies, beans, lentils, or nuts

– Eat servings of 3-6 ounces (85-170g) two to three times per week
– Check for sustainability certifications when purchasing
– Look for low-sodium varieties or rinse before cooking
– Cook using healthy fats like olive oil or avocado oil

Healthy ways to eat white rice and shrimp

There are many healthy and delicious ways to incorporate moderate amounts of white rice and shrimp into your diet:

White rice recipe ideas:

– Coconut rice – cooked in coconut milk with ginger and lime
– Broccoli rice pilaf – sauteed with broccoli florets and onions
– Vegetable biryani – mixed with peas, carrots, raisins and spices
– Arroz con pollo – chicken and rice flavored with saffron and tomatoes
– Mushroom risotto – slowly simmered with garlic, mushrooms and parmesan

Shrimp recipe ideas:

– Shrimp tacos – with cabbage, fresh salsa and avocado
– Garlic shrimp pasta – sauteed with olive oil, garlic, lemon and parsley
– Coconut curry shrimp – simmered in coconut milk with spices and veggies
– Cajun shrimp skewers – with red bell pepper and zesty Cajun seasoning
– Shrimp and grits – served over cheesy grits with a rich sauce


In conclusion, both white rice and shrimp can be healthy parts of an overall balanced diet when eaten in moderation. White rice provides an easy to digest source of carbohydrates, while shrimp offer lean protein, selenium and vitamin B12. However, white rice lacks nutrients compared to whole grains while shrimp are high in cholesterol and sodium. Enjoying a serving or two of each per week, paired with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats can help maximize their benefits while minimizing potential downsides. Consider cooking techniques that boost nutrition and flavor without adding excess salt, fat or calories. With some mindfulness of your overall dietary pattern, white rice and shrimp can be incorporated into a healthy, well-rounded eating plan.