Almost half of the global population looks to shrimp as a convenient, tasty protein source. These miniature marine animals come in a multitude of sizes and varieties, residing in salt, fresh, and brackish waters as well as thousands of farms. They are a highly prized entrée item that transcends culture and affluence. Environmental and health concerns make many people hesitant to consume shrimp. Recent research is challenging some of these issues, and extensive studies extol this seafood as a treasure of health benefits. These tiny shellfish stand out as nutritional giants with a lot of essential nutrients in each low-calorie bite.
The term “shrimp” refers to small crustaceans that live in waters all over the world. Most are an inch or smaller in length; however, the most commercially popular species -- decapods -- are significantly larger. Decapods belong to the same order as lobsters, crabs, and crayfish. These shellfish are anatomically different from prawns, although they are quite similar when it comes to cooking. There are hundreds of varieties of shrimp, but all possess similar biological traits and provide the same nutritional benefits. The tails of the shrimp are the primary part eaten in the US; many other cultures consume or cook the heads as well.
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