It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to [email protected] and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.

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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Should we avoid shrimp because they are bottom feeders?

I am trying to expand our fish recipes. My husband loves shrimp, but I had been told that it was the "bottom feeder" of the ocean, and as such, it was to be avoided. Can you clear this up for me? Thanks so much. I have learned so much from this website!

Dr. Gourmet Says...

poached shrimp topped with a remoulade sauce - click for recipe

When they are adults, shrimp do get most of their food by scavenging. This is true, however, of most fish - but that doesn't mean that they are not good for you. Cows eat grass, and when doing so ingest a lot of "non-grass" items found on the floor of a pasture. Like cows, shrimp have great "filtering" systems and much of the excess is dealt with efficiently.

Interestingly, when surveys have been done of the effects of pollution in fish, shrimp come in very low on the list. They have one of the lowest levels of contamination by mercury and other pollutants of any seafood. At the same time much of the shrimp that you purchase today is farmed and is fed a shrimp feed.

I don't see a problem at all in making shrimp a part of your meal plans. After all, your husband does love it.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet