Can You Eat Shrimp Shells? Here’s the Truth

If you’ve ever wondered if it’s OK to eat shrimp shells, the answer is yes, it is. In fact, they may even offer a few nutritional benefits as well.

Peeling shell off shrimp

What Are Shrimp Shells Made Of?

Shrimp shells technically aren’t bad for you, but do they taste good? That depends on who you ask, but we do know that eating shrimp shells is not harmful because the shells are made of chitin, which is a structural polysaccharide that consists of modified glucose chains. This is actually a neutral bio-product that is 100-per-cent safe to eat.

In fact, eating shrimp shells is actually good for you in many ways. For one thing, they contain a chemical known as chitosan, which can potentially lower your chances of developing high cholesterol. Shrimp shells are also good for reducing inflammation in your joints. And in addition to chitin, shrimp shells contain protein and several minerals. These include calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

All these things being said, keep in mind that although shrimp shells are edible, they are not easily digestible. Most of the time, this will not cause any major stomach problems. For some people, though, they may cause digestive discomforts.

Shrimp shells that you can eat

Use the Shells to Make Shrimp Stock

If you don’t want to eat the shrimp shells, consider using them to make a delicious shrimp stock for your seafood dishes.

What About Other Parts of the Shrimp?

The shells of shrimp are one thing, but what about the other parts of the shrimp, such as their tails? The good news is that, just like the shells, the shrimp tails are perfectly safe to eat. This is because the tails of the shrimp are made up of essentially the same components as the shells themselves. The thing is, the texture is a turnoff to many people because the tails can be a little harder than the shells of the shrimp. This is the main reason why so many people do not eat the tails of shrimp, even though they are largely harmless.

Many people also wonder about shrimp veins. The veins of the shrimp are often darker than the shrimp itself, and many people find them aesthetically unpleasant. This is the main reason why so many recipes recommend that you devein the shrimp before cooking it. Nevertheless, this is for aesthetic reasons and not for health reasons. The veins in the shrimp will not hurt you or affect the taste of the shrimp, so it’s a matter of aesthetic preference when it comes to removing them.

What if You’re Allergic?

If you have a shellfish allergy, you should not consume any part of the shrimp.