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The 10 Healthiest Foods: Prawns

By: Caley Walsh

Though prawns and shrimps are often used interchangeably, the two are actually different species of shellfish. Both are recommended by nutritionists, though a panel for ABC noted that most Americans do not generally choose prawns. In this article, learn about the health benefits of prawns and our best quick and easy recipe using prawns.

Prawns in the Shell
               Photo by Daquella manera

The word prawns generally describes extra-large shrimp, which often look more like tiny lobsters. The meat of prawns is often whiter and slightly less sweet than shrimp, with a chewy texture. Certain varieties of freshwater prawns (Malaysian Prawns) can weight nearly a pound each. Shrimps and prawns are best cooked in the shell to seal in moisture and flavor, but then must be peeled at the table. You can de-vein larger shrimp and prawns before cooking by running a sharp knife through the shell along the vein and lifting the vein out with a fork or toothpick.

All shellfish are high in cholesterol and shrimp and prawns are particularly high, boasting around 150-200 mg for 100 g of meat. This amount is still less than the cholesterol contained in one egg and fits within the recommended daily value of 300-600 mg. Despite being relatively high in cholesterol, shrimp and prawns are low calorie and low in saturated fats. A high density of unsaturated fatty acids in shrimp and prawns promotes the formation of “good cholesterol,” which may lower your bad cholesterol levels.

Here are some of the health benefits of shrimp and prawns:

  • Cancer Protection- Shrimp and prawns are rich in selenium, proving 65% of the DV in just one 4-oz. serving. Selenium inhibits the formation of cancer cell and encourages cell repair. The omega-3s in shrimp have also been correlated with reduced cancer risk.
  • Cardiovascular Health- Shrimp and prawns are very low fat and contain high levels of vitamin b12, which helps protect blood vessel walls and maintain cardiovascular health. The omega-3s in these shellfish have also been associated with helping to prevent irregular heart rhythms.
  • Alzheimer’s Prevention- The omega-3s found in shrimp and prawns have been correlated with a decreased risk of age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn more about the benefits of omega-3s in the Canned Salmon article.

Prawn Recipe: Healthy Hot and Sour Soup with Prawns

This Chinese favorite is adapted to a healthy recipe with protein-rich prawns.


  • 1 lb. prawns (shelled and deveined, see technique above)
  • 4 C. low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 Tbs. fish sauce (available in the ethnic food section of most groceries or Asian food markets)
  • 3 stalks lemon grass (very fragrant, but you can substitute fresh lemon zest if unavailable)
  • ¼ C. lemon or lime juice (use lime with lemongrass, lemon with lemon zest)
  • 1 can sliced mushroom (straw or shitake mushrooms if you can find)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 red chili peppers, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped


  1. Bring chicken stock to a boil.
  2. Add fish sauce, lemon grass, lime juice, and chili. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Simmer for five minutes and remove lemon grass stalks, if using.
  4. Add the mushrooms and prawns. Simmer until prawns are pink, just a few minutes.
  5. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with cilantro.
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