Is Shrimp Or Lobster Healthier?

Nutrition experts say we can boost our health by eating shellfish. You’ve now got your eye on shrimp and lobster, two sea creatures with a similar mouth-watering flavor. Shrimp is the US’s most popular seafood, whereas lobster is saved for special-occasion splurges. But which gives you more bang for your bite? Does lobster’s nutrition match its price tag, or is shrimp the crustacean nutrition champ?

Shrimp and lobster are both low-calorie, high-protein foods containing omega-3 fatty acids and other essential nutrients. Shrimp is the more nutritious option for protein and omega-3 fatty acids, whereas lobster has more zinc, iodine, selenium, and vitamin B12.

Both shrimp and lobster add a decent helping of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals to the menu. Still, their slightly different nutritional breakdowns make them stand out. Both also come with downsides that can make them less healthy choices. Here’s a detailed look at how shrimp and lobster compare to help you decide which one to put on the top of your shopping list.  

Shrimp Vs Lobster: Which Is Healthier?

Let’s put shrimp and lobster head-to-head according to their nutrition, health benefits, and risks to see which shellfish deserves a VIP spot on your plate.

Shrimp Vs Lobster: Nutrition

Shrimp and lobster pack in goodness while being light on calories.

Their standout nutrient is high-quality protein. Both shrimp and lobster are high in protein that contains all the amino acids we need. They have almost as much of this complete protein as beef but less fat and only a smidge of saturated fat.

Here’s a breakdown of shrimp and lobster’s major nutrients per 3 oz:

  • Shrimp: 72 calories. 17 g protein. 0.43 g fat.
  • Lobster: 64 calories. 14 g protein. 0.64 g fat.

Healthy omega-3 fatty acids are another prized nutrient in shrimp and lobster. Shrimp has 0.48 g of omega-3s per 3.5 oz, and lobster has 0.37 g.

A nutrient in shrimp and lobster not on the must-eat list is cholesterol. Both shellfish are high in cholesterol, with 194 mg of cholesterol in 3.5 oz of shrimp and 71 mg in the same amount of lobster.

Lobster and shrimp are favorites for low-carb eating because lobster has zero carbs, and shrimp has too few to mention.

The star micronutrients in shrimp and lobster are iron, zinc, copper, and vitamin B12. Here’s how much of these multitasking macronutrients you’ll get In 3.5 oz shrimp and lobster:

Iron, Zinc, Copper, And Vitamin B12 In Shrimp And Lobster (per 3.5 oz)ShrimpLobster
Iron  2.41 mg1.22 mg
Zinc  1.11 mg5.67 mg
Copper  0.26 mg0.38 mg
Vitamin B12  1.2 ug3 ug

Source: University of Washington

Shrimp and lobster boast an assortment of other vitamins and minerals, including iodine, selenium, zinc, choline, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and vitamin E.

Which Gives More Bang For Your Bite?

First, the good stuff: Shrimp has more protein, omega-3s, iron, and choline than lobster, whereas lobster is higher in zinc, copper, vitamin B12, selenium, and iodine. Now the not-so-good: Shrimp is higher in cholesterol than lobster, while lobster has more sodium.

Shrimp Vs Lobster: Health Benefits

Here’s a round-up of the main health perks that come with eating shrimp and lobster:

  • The generous dose of complete protein helps build lean muscle.
  • Protein is filling, keeping appetite and weight in check. The low calorie and carb content of shellfish also help keep extra pounds off.
  • Omega-3s boost overall mind and body well-being and enhance brain, heart, and eye health.
  • Iron makes sure oxygen can flow around the body.
  • Zinc keeps the immune system healthy and helps with healing.
  • Copper helps make red blood cells and keeps the immune system and nerve cells in good shape.
  • Vitamin B12 keeps nerve cells working as they should and helps make red blood cells.
  • Iodine help keep the thyroid in top condition.
  • Selenium strengthens the immune system, keeps the thyroid healthy, and might protect against cancer.

Which Gives More Bang For Your Bite?

Shrimp has a slight edge over lobster for weight control and muscle-building, thanks to its higher protein content. It’s also got the advantage as far as heart-, brain-, and eyesight-protecting omega-3s go. Lobster is the winner for a strong immune system and thyroid health because of its higher concentration of selenium, zinc, and iodine. 

Shrimp Vs Lobster: Risks

There are a few possible downsides to eating shrimp and lobster.

A common concern is the cholesterol content of these shellfish. 

Research shows that the cholesterol in shrimp and lobster doesn’t pose a heart threat to people who metabolize cholesterol normally. Still, those on low-cholesterol diets (usually a daily max of 200 mg) should keep their portion sizes small. Anyone tracking their cholesterol should be especially restrained when dishing up shrimp, as a 3.5 oz serving contains just under the daily 200 mg limit.

If you’re watching your sodium intake, on the other hand, go easy on the lobster. Lobsters and shrimp are naturally high in sodium, with lobsters about three times higher in this nutrient than shrimp. Lobster has 360 mg of sodium per 3 oz, and shrimp has 101 mg in this portion size.

Another worry with shrimp is that imported farm-raised varieties might contain antibiotics. Wild-caught and US shrimp don’t come with an unwelcome antibiotic addition. All lobster is wild-caught and antibiotic-free.

And then, seafood is only healthy if it’s fresh. Lobsters and shrimp spoil easily, so they must be carefully selected, stored, prepared, and thoroughly cooked to stop them from becoming a food poisoning risk. Lobsters spoil shortly after being killed, so they are safest when boiled alive.

What you add to shellfish can also turn it from a health hero into a villain. Stick to aromatic spices, herbs, and lemon squeezes, not deep-fried crumbs and melted butter.

Which Gives More Bang For Your Bite?

Hefty cholesterol and sodium contents count against shrimp and lobster. Lobster is the healthier option for cholesterol-watchers, while shrimp is the go-to for people who’re limiting their sodium. Another concern is that both shellfish go bad if not carefully stored and prepared. Shrimp earns more points than lobster for food safety because it’s more convenient to store and prepare.

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Shrimp and lobster are health-boosting additions to a balanced diet. They’re both low-calorie lean protein sources with an omega-3 and micronutrient bonus! Shrimp just takes first place for its higher protein and omega-3 content. And lobster is the zinc, copper, vitamin B12, selenium, and iodine winner. Lobster wins for being lower in cholesterol, and shrimp is tops for its lower sodium content.