Shrimps or prawns are crustaceans that belonging to the arthropod group of animals, in a subgroup that includes barnacles, crabs, krill, lobsters and crayfish. Prawns have a tough outer shell (like all crustaceans), covering a semi-translucent flesh that can be comprised of various colours. Prawns consumed in Western countries are often pink in colour, but the flesh of prawns can be yellow, grey or brown. Most prawns provided for Western consumers are farmed, but a considerable portion of the World’s shrimp harvest still comes from wild organisms caught from the oceans. Hundreds of varieties of edible prawns are harvested from the oceans each year, and prawns are the second most popular fish Worldwide after tuna (in some countries they are the number one seas food consumed). The popularity of prawns is partly because they are so widely distributed in the oceans of the world and partly because of their nutritional and taste properties.
Nutritionally, prawns are a good source of protein, with a 100 gram serving containing about 20 grams of protein. Prawns are also low in fat, with only 1 gram of fat in the same 100 gram serving. The low content of fat and almost absence of carbohydrate, means that prawns are also low in energy (about 100 calories per 100 grams), with almost all this energy provided by their high protein content. The fat content of the prawns can include around 300 mg of the long chain fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid per 100 grams, although the fat content of the animals depends on their diet. Prawns are therefore not a great source of these fatty acids but can contribute something to omega-3 fatty acid intake. Prawns also contain vitamin B12, which makes them a good food to include in the diet of those who avoid meat. The mineral content of the prawn is notable in that it contains good amounts of selenium.