Chicken and shrimp are two popular meats to serve at lunch or dinner. On the one hand, you have your white poultry, and on the other you have a shellfish that is considered a staple of the seafood world.
Both are versatile and can be cooked in a wide range of dishes, as they go well with many different ingredients.
Whether you are enjoying a tender lemon chicken breast fillet or tucking into some buttery garlic shrimp, you are sure to find a delicious meal to suit your tastes.
Both foods are also considered to be fairly healthy options. Of course, the health quality of your overall meal will depend on what else you’re serving them with, so let’s just take each one its own to determine how good it is for you.
Here, we discuss the nutritional information for chicken breast and shrimp, comparing them on various different factors. We have based our findings on a typical 3 oz portion size of each meat, so you know what you’ll be getting in a general meal.
One of the most abundant components in meat of any kind is protein. This is necessary for repairing and generating cells within your body, as well as building muscle mass.
Bodybuilders and competitive athletes ingest particularly high levels of protein to help their bodies manage intense activity levels, but it is important for all people to get enough protein in their diets.
Children and teenagers need protein to aid their physical development and growth, which is also true for pregnant women.
According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), 3 oz of cooked shrimp has 20 grams of protein, while the same amount of cooked chicken breast contains 26 grams.
As you can see, there is more protein in chicken, but it does depend on how you cook it, and the amount of protein isn’t constant throughout the whole chicken.
Chicken breast is the part of the chicken that has the most protein – other parts such as the thighs and wings have a similar amount to shrimp.
26 grams represents the protein in roasted chicken breast, but rotisserie or stewed chicken breast has less. Breaded, fried or canned shrimp has less protein than regular cooked shrimp, so bear this in mind during preparation.
We should try and limit the amount of fat in our diets, but we still need some because our bodies cannot produce their own fatty acids. These are important for storing energy and help us to absorb certain vitamins from the foods we eat.
Saturated fats can raise your cholesterol to dangerous levels, so these are the sort we especially need to avoid – saturated fat is often found in dairy products and heavily processed foods, but it can also be present in fatty meat.
Chicken breast is considered a lean meat, and as such it doesn’t contain much saturated fat at all: its lowly figure of 0.9 grams contributes to 3.1 grams of total fats.
Meanwhile, shrimp contains 0.3 grams of overall fat, with only 0.1 gram of saturated fat – so negligible it’s almost not worth counting.
There is a big difference between the fat in each, with shrimp being the clear winner in this regard. They both have a similar ratio of sat fat to other fat, which means that the majority of the fats in them are unsaturated.
Be careful with chicken skin, as this can increase the amount of fat to more than double what it is with skinless chicken – it is best to remove the skin before cooking.
Carbohydrates, or carbs, should make up between 45 and 65% of your daily diet. These come from foods like rice, pasta, and bread.
However, since meats are mostly protein, it makes sense that the carbohydrate content of your meat will likely be negligible. Low-carb foods are also good for certain diets such as keto, where the majority of calories come from meat.
In general, shrimp provides 0.2 grams of carbohydrate per 3 oz. This seems like a tiny amount, until you learn that chicken breast has absolutely no carbohydrates whatsoever.
The same is true of all poultry and beef, as well as most other meat and fish – only the organs (liver, kidney, etc.) will give you any substantial carbs if you choose to eat them.
A calorie is a unit of measurement representing the amount of energy in any food or drink item. It is recommended that adult women consume around 2,000 calories per day, and men around 2,500.
Men generally need more energy than women due to their larger body frame. If you consume more calories than is appropriate, you can end up gaining weight.
Chicken breast has around 140 calories per serving. Again, this is based on a skinless breast, and leaving the skin on can bump up the calories significantly.
Every 3 oz of shrimp only contains 84 calories, meaning that you could eat nearly twice as much shrimp as chicken breast before consuming as many calories.
Other Nutritional Qualities
Now that we have discussed the general nutrition of the meats, it’s time to talk about what additional elements they bring to the table. These include certain vitamins and minerals that can help keep your body running smoothly.
Shrimp contains a high level of selenium (48% of RDI), which is an antioxidant that helps keep your immune system strong. It is also rich in iodine – needed for thyroid and brain health – and vitamin B12 (21% of RDI).
Like all fish and seafood, shrimp is an excellent source of omega-3 and omega-3, keeping your heart in good shape. However, shrimp is unfortunately high in cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease if raised to unhealthy levels.
Chicken is another great source of selenium, with 22 micrograms per serving (40% of RDI). It also contains phosphorus, which is used to filter waste from the kidneys and helps your body store energy effectively.
Other vitamins present in chicken breast are vitamin B6 and vitamin B3 (otherwise known as niacin). One downside of eating chicken breast is that it can also raise your cholesterol, just like shrimp can.
Shrimp and chicken breast are both healthy meats with a lot of nutritional benefits, which can lead to increased function in the body and mind. They are very low in carbs and fat, and very high in protein, which is just what you want in your meat.
However, they will not always be that good for you, depending on how you prepare them; for example, frying anything will always cancel out some of the health advantages it would have had otherwise.
It is best to keep your cooking simple, but that doesn’t mean it has to be plain – there are plenty of recipes available online that will show you how to make the most of your shrimp or chicken breast.