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Health Food of the month - Prawns

September 2019


Previous Health Foods of the Month...



Brown and white foods


Diet & Supplements Index

It wasn’t that long ago that prawn cocktail was considered an exotic starter to a meal!

Today prawns are just another everyday food, used in a range of different dishes from supermarket sandwich fillings to tasty paellas.

But there is nothing simple about a prawn. For a start, there are cold water and warm water prawns. Cold water prawns mainly come as described from the colder waters of the world, especially from the seas of the north Atlantic between Canada and Norway. The prawns grow slowly and develop a delicate but delicious flavour. Warm water prawns are found in the warmer sea water around Asian countries, South America and similar hotter zones. These prawns can grow much bigger and types of warm water prawns include the popular tiger and king prawns which can be huge and have developed a stronger, more robust flavour.

There has been concern in recent years about farming methods used in the prawn industry, especially connected to prawns imported from Asia; but many top brands have been addressing this. Also, in the UK aquaculturists are beginning to grow prawns in large tanks and at fish farms under very carefully supervised conditions which is changing the market. Today fresh prawns are available although at the moment most of the prawns we buy are frozen.

Whatever type of prawn you buy, they are considered to be a very healthy food.

For a start, they offer a complete protein. This means a prawn includes all nine amino acids that we need, and in the right proportions. 100 grams of prawns will contain around 25 grains of protein, a similar level to that found in chicken or beef.

Prawns also offer a surprisingly good supply of vitamins and minerals.  These include Vitamins A and E plus B6 and a high level of vitamin B12 which can contribute to better cardiovascular regulation. Prawns also contain niacin, iron and zinc which can help improve our immune levels plus small levels of copper magnesium and phosphorous. Other benefits from prawns include selenium, a good antioxidant for our body that is thought, in a small way, to help prevent the growth of cancer cells.

The only thing to be wary of in prawns is their high cholesterol levels. Overall, the health advice is that prawns are very healthy if eaten in sensible quantities, but it does make sense to keep in mind the cholesterol levels found in prawns: 100 grams of prawns can offer around 152 milligrams of cholesterol.  Interestingly, according to the Australian prawn website Crystal Prawns, the relationship between prawns and our intake of cholesterol has yet to be fully explained. They point out that the Japanese, who are the world’s greatest consumer of prawns, also have the highest life expectancy.

Prawns can be susceptible to bacteria. Freshly cooked prawns need to be kept chilled and eaten quickly and frozen prawns need to be thawed speedily and then used immediately. But while fish poisoning can happen,  prawn consumption in the UK is high and problems really are quite rare.

However, it is well worth noting that a few people have a strong allergy to prawns and obviously  if you know someone has an allergy, then clearly this food needs to be avoided.

There is some good information on line about prawns including at:


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