Forget Chicken! Dive into a Delicious World of Shrimp

Freshly cooked shrimp piled on a sheet of foil.

If you’re on the hunt for delicious and alpha-gal friendly proteins, shrimp should be at the top of your list. These tasty crustaceans come in a variety of types and wide range of sizes — each with unique flavors and menu possibilities.

The information provided on this site is based on my personal experience living with alpha-gal syndrome. I consistently cite and link to expert sources, but nothing published on this site should be perceived as medical advice.

Alpha-gal sensitivities vary by person. You should understand your dietary restrictions, making any adjustments needed, and directing any questions to your physician.

Shrimp is a delicious alpha-gal friendly protein that comes in a variety of types and sizes — each with unique characteristics that influence their flavor and culinary uses. From the warm waters lapping at the Gulf Coast to the vast ocean floor, these versatile crustaceans play a pivotal role in marine ecosystems and our diets. This guide will introduce you to the key types of shrimp, explain their sizes, and explain how to choose the best shimp — for your favorite dishes and the environment.
A plate of cooked shrimp garnished with herbs is next to a knife and fork. The text on the image reads "Know Your Shrimp: Types and Sizes".

    

In This Article

Is Shrimp Healthy?

You betcha! And, it’s a great alpha-gal friendly alternative to chicken! Speaking of our favorite poultry, according to FoodIndustry.com, the average American eats nearly 100 pounds of chicken each year. My guess is that figure is much higher for Americans with alpha-gal who don’t mix things up with pork chops, meatloaf, or bacon from time to time. After all, nothing makes you want to have a toddler meltdown and scream “I miss bacon!” quite like your 1,000th chicken breast of the year.

When it comes to fish and seafood, Americans dethroned tuna back in 2000 and crowned shrimp as their go-to seafood product. The average American enjoyed nearly six pounds of the delicious crustaceans in 2021 annually according to the National Fisheries Institute. And I would guess the average alpha gal eats a lot more than that. We sure do at my house! In fact, I’m pretty sure my family is single-handedly keeping the shrimp fishing industry afloat. You’re welcome, crustacean economy!

Shrimp is not only delicious but also packed with nutrients, making it a healthy addition to your alpha-gal diet. A standard serving size of shrimp is about 3 ounces (approximately 85 grams), which contains around 84 calories. This serving size provides about 18 grams of protein, making shrimp an excellent source of lean protein. 

In addition to being low in calories and high in protein, shrimp is rich in several important vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of selenium, providing about 48% of the daily recommended intake. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect your cells from damage. Shrimp also contains significant amounts of vitamin B12, phosphorus, and iodine, which are essential for energy production, bone health, and thyroid function, respectively.

Moreover, shrimp is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their heart health benefits. These healthy fats help reduce inflammation and may lower the risk of heart disease. Despite being low in fat overall, shrimp also provides astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant that gives shrimp its pink color and may support eye and skin health. So not only will you feel good eating shrimp, but you’ll look good doing it!

Types of Shrimp

It might surprise you to learn that there are more than 2,000 shrimp species. However, you’ll only see a handful of types behind the seafood counter on a dinner plate — which is good, because who has time to try all 2,000? I mean, even if you dedicated your entire life to a “shrimp-a-day” diet, you’d need over five years to taste them all. Talk about a shellfish obsession!

These are some of the most well-known types of shrimp:

A metal platter filled with raw shrimp on a bed of ice against a black background.
Photo Credit: YayImages.

White Shrimp

Also known as northern white shrimp, gray shrimp, lake shrimp, green shrimp, common shrimp, Daytona shrimp, or or southern shrimp

White shrimp are a staple in seafood cuisine, perhaps because they are tender with easy-to-peel shells. They have a sweet, clean flavor and a firm texture that holds up well in a variety of preparations. White shrimp can grow quite large, often reaching up to eight inches long, making them a versatile choice for many dishes. According to NOAA Fisheries, “Almost all of the white shrimp harvested in the United States come from the Gulf of Mexico, mainly from Louisiana and Texas.” Apparently, these North American shrimp are patriotic enough to stick to American waters. Take that, imported seafood! 

A cast iron skillet filled with a richly seasoned seafood dish, featuring shrimp, squid, and various vegetables in a tomato-based sauce, served on a wooden board with a glass and a fork in the background.
Photo Credit: YayImages.

Brown Shrimp

Also known as brownies, green lake shrimp, red shrimp, retail shrimp, golden shrimp, native shrimp, summer shrimp, or brown rock shrimp

Brown shrimp are great for shrimp boils, Louisiana-style BBQ shrimp, and other dishes that allow them to soak up the dish’s other flavors. They have a firm texture and slightly salty taste that makes them a perfect compliment to other seafood like salmon and scallops. They’re like the sponges of the sea, soaking up flavors faster than you can say “Pass the Old Bay!” US wild-caught brown shrimp are an eco-friendly seafood choice because they are sustainably managed and responsibly harvested.

A metal plate holds a stack of grilled shrimp skewers, showcasing the vibrant, slightly charred crustaceans arranged closely together.
Photo Credit: YayImages.

Pink Shrimp

Also known as spotted shrimp, hopper, pink spotted shrimp, brown spotted shrimp, grooved shrimp, green shrimp, pink night shrimp, red shrimp, skipper, Gulf pink shrimp, or pushed shrimp

When you think of shrimp, you are most likely envisioning pink shrimp. They are known for their mild flavor and slightly sweet taste. They work well in dishes that feature delicate sauces, like shrimp scampi and shrimp and grits. Because they are a larger shrimp, these crustaceans are good for shrimp cocktail and grilling.

A shrimp size chart showing different sizes and corresponding counts per pound, from Extra Colossal (8 to 10 per pound) to Salad Size (71+ per pound). Background features a soft blue watercolor pattern.

Shrimp Sizes

Shrimp size is typically measured based on the count per pound. The bigger they are, the less you get, which sounds suspicioiusly like a diet plan to me! Shrimp sizes range from extra colossal (less than 10 shrimp per pound) to salad shrimp (more than 70 shrimp per pound).

A plastic bag filled with frozen shrimp inside a freezer.
Photo Credit: YayImages.

Fresh Shrimp vs Frozen Shrimp

When it comes to choosing between fresh and frozen shrimp, there are a few key points to consider. Fresh shrimp, if truly fresh and properly stored, can offer a slightly better texture and flavor. However, the term “fresh” can be misleading since shrimp might be several days old by the time they reach your grocery store. In other words, “fresh” might mean “has been on a cross-country road trip since being pulled out of the sea.”

On the other hand, frozen shrimp are usually flash-frozen shortly after being caught, which locks in their freshness and flavor. This makes them a reliable option year-round. Plus, frozen shrimp are often more affordable and can be defrosted quickly for convenient use in any dish. So, unless you have access to truly fresh shrimp — something that’s pretty rare for me here in one of the most landlocked states in the Union — frozen shrimp are the best way to embrace “coastal living” in the heart of the Midwest.

A blue and red fishing boat sails on calm waters under a cloudy sky. The boat has tall masts and visible rigging.
Photo Credit: YayImages.

Wild-Caught Shrimp vs Farmed Shrimp

Choosing between wild-caught and farmed shrimp is a lot like the wild-caught versus farm-raised debate surrounding salmon. Do you want a shrimp that lived its best life in the ocean or one that grew up in the aquatic equivalent of a strip mall? 

Wild  shrimp, like those harvested from their natural habitats in the coastal region of North Carolina, are often praised for their superior taste and texture which is attributed to their natural diet of plankton and small marine creatures. However, they can be more expensive due to stringent regulations and sustainable fishing practices aimed at protecting marine ecosystems. They can also be harder to find the farther you live from the coast.

Farmed shrimp, on the other hand, are raised in controlled environments, which can result in a more consistent product available year-round and often at a lower cost. While some farmed shrimp are raised sustainably, others may involve the use of antibiotics and chemicals, raising concerns about their environmental impact and food safety. 

Chalkboard infographic comparing prawns and shrimp, highlighting differences in size, habitat, body structure, labeling, price, and species. Prawns are larger, found in freshwater, and have longer legs.

Prawns vs Shrimp

Although similar in appearance, shrimp and prawns are two different species — sort of like a cow and a bison. They are both grazing animals raised for steak, roast, and ground meat, but they are two different creatures.

One of the most noticeable differences between shrimp and prawns is in their legs. Shrimp have one pair of legs with claws, whereas prawns have three pairs. This gives prawns slightly longer legs relative to their body size. Additionally, shrimp tend to live in saltwater, while prawns are usually found in freshwater.

In terms of taste and cooking, shrimp and prawns are quite similar and can be used interchangeably in recipes. Both have a mild, sweet flavor and cook quickly. So, whether you choose shrimp or prawns, you’ll be able to enjoy a tasty and nutritious meal. And neither will taste like chicken!

Selecting Sustainable Shrimp

Shrimp are vital to maintaining the ecological balance of our lakes and oceans. Not only do they help keep our waters clean, but they are an important food source for larger fish and other sea creatures. Thus, sustainable shrimp fishing is crucial. According to the University of Washington’s Sustainable Fisheries program, US wild-caught shrimp are often the most sustainable option due to strict regulations and eco-friendly methods like smaller nets and traps. These practices help protect marine habitats and maintain shrimp populations.

Farmed shrimp can also be sustainable if certified by organizations like the Marine Stewardship Council, which ensures responsible practices such as minimizing chemical use and preserving mangrove habitats. But farmed shrimp can cause pollution and habitat destruction if not properly regulated. The Seafood Watch guide published by the Monterey Bay Aquarium provides additional tips for making sustainable choices when buying shrimp.

Shrimply the Best

Shrimp are not just yummy, they are also versatile and nutritious. Whether you choose fresh or frozen, understanding the different types of shrimp and their sizes can help you make delicious and sustainable choices.

Commonly Asked Questions About Types of Shrimp

Do you have questions about types of shrimp? I’ve got answers! Here are some of the questions people frequently ask about types of shrimp.

How many types of shrimp are there?

There are more than 2,000 species of shrimp, but only a handful are commonly eaten. We commonly eat white, brown, and pink shrimp, types known for their versatility and delicious taste.

Is shrimp a type of fish?

No, shrimp are not fish. They are crustaceans, related to crabs and lobsters. They have a hard exoskeleton and jointed limbs. 

Do You Like Shrimp?

What is your favorite type of shrimp — white, brown, or pink? What alpha-gal friendly ways do you enjoying eating shrimp? Any additional information or experiences you have to share about shrimp? Tell me all about it in the comments section below.

Thank you for sharing!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *