Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Are Shrimp Chips Bad For You?

Also Known As: Prawn crackers, krupuk, kroepoek



Short answer

Shrimp chips are a high-carb, moderate-fat snack with low protein and fiber content, and often contain additives and preservatives like MSG and TBHQ, which may concern sensitive individuals. They're not a significant source of vitamins and minerals and can be high in sodium, which poses a risk for those with high blood pressure. While trans fats are less commonly found due to regulatory changes, it's essential to read labels as brands can vary. Enjoy shrimp chips in moderation, considering their nutritional profile and your overall dietary intake.



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Long answer

Nutritional Content of Shrimp Chips

When evaluating the nutritional value of shrimp chips, it's important to analyze the content based on key dietary components: macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), and other food constituents such as fiber and additives. Consideration must also be given to portion sizes typically consumed. Here we unpack the nutritional profile of a standard serving of shrimp chips.


  • Carbohydrates: Shrimp chips are predominantly a carbohydrate-based snack. A single serving may contain upwards of 15-20 grams of carbohydrates, primarily in the form of starches from the tapioca flour or other bases used in production.
  • Proteins: Despite the name, the protein content in shrimp chips is relatively low. Per serving, one could expect between 1-3 grams of protein, much of which comes from the small amount of shrimp paste or powder incorporated into the dough.
  • Fats: The fat content of shrimp chips can vary depending on the manufacturing process, particularly whether they are fried or baked. A standard serving can range from about 7-10 grams of fat, predominantly saturated fats from palm oil or other cooking oils used in frying.


  • Vitamins: Shrimp chips are not particularly rich in vitamins. However, some brands may include small amounts of vitamins like B12 due to the shrimp content, yet this is not a significant source to contribute to daily requirements.
  • Minerals: Some brands of shrimp chips may have trace minerals such as iodine from the shrimp and potassium or sodium from added salts. The sodium content can be notably high, contributing to the snack's savory taste.


  • Shrimp chips are generally low in dietary fiber, often less than 1 gram per serving. Due to the processing and absence of whole grains, there is minimal contribution to your daily fiber intake from shrimp chips.


  • Many shrimp chips contain flavor enhancers and preservatives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ). These compounds increase the palatability and shelf life of the product but may be of concern to individuals sensitive to additives.

Caloric Content:

  • The average calorie count for a standard serving (about 1 ounce or 28 grams) of shrimp chips is between 150-200 calories. The precise figure depends significantly on the specific brand and preparation method.

In summary, while shrimp chips can provide a satisfying crunch and savory flavor, they offer little in terms of nutritional benefits. Their content is marked by carbohydrates and fats with negligible fiber. Consumers with dietary restrictions or health concerns, particularly regarding sodium intake or additives, may need to consider these factors when indulging in shrimp chips.

It should be noted that the specific nutritional content can vary between brands and flavors of shrimp chips. Consumers are encouraged to check the nutrition facts label on specific products to obtain the most accurate information for their dietary assessment.

Presence of Additives and Artificial Coloring in Shrimp Chips

Shrimp chips, a popular snack enjoyed by many across the globe, are known for their unique taste and crispy texture. However, a closer look at their ingredient list reveals the use of several additives and artificial colorings, which could have potential health implications for consumers.

Additives are often included in food products like shrimp chips to enhance flavor, extend shelf life, or improve texture. Commonly seen additives in shrimp chips include:

  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): Used to enhance umami taste, MSG has been the subject of controversy regarding its safety. While the FDA classifies MSG as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS), some individuals may experience sensitivities such as headaches, flushing, or sweating after consumption.
  • Preservatives: Chemicals such as tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) might be included to prevent the fats in shrimp chips from going rancid. While effective at maintaining freshness, high doses of TBHQ have been linked to negative health effects in animal studies.
  • Emulsifiers and Stabilizers: Ingredients like stearoyl lactylate can be used to maintain the structural integrity of shrimp chips. Though typically considered safe, these additives can sometimes cause minor gastrointestinal symptoms in sensitive individuals.

Artificial colorings are another concern, as they are widely used in food products to make them more appealing. The vibrant colors of shrimp chips may be attributed to artificial dyes, some of which have been linked to health issues. Commonly used artificial colors include:

  • Tartrazine (Yellow No. 5): This coloring has been associated with allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children, leading to increased scrutiny and labeling requirements in some countries.
  • Allura Red (Red No. 40): Research suggests a possible connection between this artificial dye and hyperactivity in children, although the evidence is not definitive.
  • Indigo Carmine (Blue No. 2): While considered safe by regulatory agencies, there have been sporadic reports of reactions to this coloring agent.

It is vital to note that individual responses to additives and colorings can vary greatly, with most people consuming them without apparent issues. Nevertheless, for those with sensitivities or allergies, it is crucial to read labels carefully. The cumulative effect of these substances over time and their impact on long-term health remains an area of ongoing research. Experts recommend moderation in the consumption of any processed foods containing artificial additives and colorings as a precautionary health measure.

For those concerned with the potential health effects of these ingredients, seeking out shrimp chips made with natural colorings—such as those derived from beet juice or paprika extract—and free from artificial preservatives and flavor enhancers may be a better choice for snacking. As always, bearing in mind portion sizes and frequency of consumption will contribute to a balanced dietary approach.

Sodium Levels and the Risk of High Blood Pressure

One of the potential concerns when it comes to consuming shrimp chips is their sodium content. Sodium is a mineral that's essential for maintaining fluid balance and nerve function in the body. However, like many processed snacks, shrimp chips can be high in sodium, which can pose health risks if consumed in excess.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended daily limit for sodium is less than 2,300 milligrams for adults. Yet many people exceed this amount, often without realizing it, and snack foods can contribute significantly to this excess. Since shrimp chips are often enjoyed in larger quantities during snacking, it's important to pay attention to the serving size listed on the packaging. A single serving of shrimp chips can vary, but it could contain anywhere from 200 to 300 milligrams of sodium or more depending on the brand and flavoring.

  • High Sodium Intake and Blood Pressure: A high-sodium diet is closely linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure (hypertension). Over time, hypertension can lead to heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
  • Individual Sensitivity: Some individuals, such as those with salt sensitivity or existing high blood pressure, may be more affected by the sodium content in shrimp chips and other salty snacks.
  • Impact on Children: For children who enjoy snacking on shrimp chips, it's especially important to monitor intake as their recommended sodium limits are lower than those for adults.

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology provided evidence linking higher intake of sodium to increased risks of cardiovascular disease. Those with a high sodium intake had a significantly greater risk of developing heart conditions compared to those with moderate intake.

Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that reducing sodium intake can help decrease the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. They also stress the importance of balancing sodium with potassium, which can help mitigate the negative effects of sodium on blood pressure.

When considering shrimp chips as a snack, it's critical to understand the implications of sodium levels on your health:

Consideration Details
Serving Size Always check the nutrition label to determine the serving size and the corresponding sodium content.
Overall Diet Consider your total daily sodium intake from all sources, not just shrimp chips.
Health Status Individuals with health conditions such as hypertension should be particularly cautious with sodium-rich foods.
Alternative Options Look for lower-sodium versions or other snacks that are naturally low in sodium.

Ultimately, shrimp chips can be enjoyed in moderation, especially if you're mindful of the rest of your diet's sodium content. However, it's vital to consider the cumulative effect of high-sodium snacks like shrimp chips on your overall health and particularly on your blood pressure.

Trans Fats and the Hidden Dangers in Snack Foods

When we think of snack foods such as shrimp chips, it's vital to consider not just the flavor, but the composition. One critical element to be wary of is trans fats, sometimes hidden amongst the ingredients. Despite the savory crunch that shrimp chips offer, the presence of trans fats can turn this alluring snack into a health hazard.

Trans fats are a form of unsaturated fat that have been industrially transformed to prolong shelf life and enhance flavor stability in processed foods. However, studies have shown that trans fats are linked to an increased risk of heart disease by raising levels of LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and lowering levels of HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol). According to the World Health Organization, trans fats are also associated with a heightened risk of developing type 2 diabetes and inflammation, which is a precursor to other chronic diseases.

Regrettably, shrimp chips can contain trans fats, especially if they are made with hydrogenated oils. Although the FDA has taken steps to remove artificial trans fats from the food supply, some trans fats can still lurk in snack foods due to certain exemptions and loopholes. Furthermore, if a serving contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fats, it can be labeled as 0 grams, which can be misleading for consumers diligently trying to avoid these harmful fats.

For those concerned about intake of trans fats, it's essential to read labels carefully and look for any mention of "partially hydrogenated oils," which is a key indicator of trans fats presence. Additionally, comparing the nutritional content of various shrimp chips brands can be a practical step in identifying healthier options. Here's an example breakdown:

Brand Serving Size Trans Fat Content
Brand A 30g 0g (Note: Check for partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list.)
Brand B 30g 0.3g
Brand C 30g 0g (No partially hydrogenated oils listed.)

While the table suggests that some brands offer trans fat-free options, consumer vigilance is essential since product formulations can change. Ultimately, moderation is key. Even if a brand of shrimp chips appears free of trans fats, it's still a processed snack that should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Moreover, consumers looking to avoid trans fats altogether can opt for homemade shrimp chip recipes which allow for greater control over the ingredients used. This provides an opportunity to use healthier oil alternatives that do not undergo hydrogenation.

Being aware of the hidden dangers of trans fats in snack foods, including shrimp chips, can help you make better-informed choices that align with a heart-healthy diet. Remember, a crucial aspect of maintaining good health is understanding what goes into your body and recognizing that even small amounts of harmful substances, like trans fats, can have significant impacts over time.

Balancing Snack Consumption and Healthy Eating Habits

Integrating snacks like shrimp chips into a balanced diet without compromising health requires an understanding of moderation, portion control, and the role of nutrient density. The apparent simplicity of snacking belies its potential complexity—snack selection can impact dietary patterns, overall nutrition, and health outcomes.

Here’s how to navigate the world of snacks while monitoring health and nutrition:

  • Understanding Portion Sizes: Snack foods often come in packages that contain multiple servings. Paying attention to the serving size on the nutrition facts label of shrimp chips can help keep calorie intake in check. A good practice is to portion out the amount you plan to eat rather than eating directly from the package.
  • Considering Nutrient Density: Opting for snacks that are low in calories but high in nutrients is fundamental for a healthy diet. Shrimp chips, while delicious, typically offer less nutritional value compared to options like fruits, vegetables, or nuts. Prioritize nutrient-dense snacks, and enjoy shrimp chips in moderation.
  • Mindful Eating: Be attentive to your eating process. Eating out of boredom or stress can lead to overconsumption of snacks like shrimp chips. Mindfulness practices involve savoring each bite and paying attention to the body's hunger and fullness signals, which can help prevent overeating.

Moreover, integrating shrimp chips into a robust dietary pattern involves balancing the less healthful components:

  • Salt Intake: Many shrimp chips are high in sodium, which can contribute to increased blood pressure and cardiovascular risk. If shrimp chips are part of your snack rotation, consider how they fit into your daily sodium allowance and offset them with low-sodium meal options.
  • Healthy Fats: Though shrimp chips may contain fats from frying, balancing them with snacks rich in healthy fats, such as avocados, seeds, and nuts, can contribute positively to heart health and overall diet quality.
  • Frequency of Consumption: Treat shrimp chips as an occasional treat rather than a daily indulgence. Prioritize whole, unprocessed snacks and reserve shrimp chips for special occasions or as an infrequent savory treat.

By keeping these considerations in mind, shrimp chips can be incorporated into a diet in a way that acknowledges their appeal while respecting the principles of healthy eating. Balancing snack consumption with these strategies contributes to maintaining dietary wellness and a varied, enjoyable diet.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, some manufacturers produce shrimp chips using natural flavor enhancers like seaweed or fish sauce, and natural preservatives like vitamin E (tocopherols). They may also use natural colorings derived from fruits, vegetables, or spices. Always check the label for these natural alternatives if you're concerned about artificial additives.

Moderation is key if you want to include shrimp chips in a heart-healthy diet. Opt for shrimp chips that are lower in sodium and trans fats, and consume them less frequently. Supplement your snack times with nutrient-dense alternatives like fruits and nuts that benefit heart health.

Trans fats can be hidden under the term 'partially hydrogenated oils' in the ingredients list. Even if a product claims to have 0 grams of trans fats per serving, check the list of ingredients for these oils to ensure you're not consuming trans fats, as products with less than 0.5 grams per serving can legally be labeled as having 0 grams.

To enjoy shrimp chips mindfully, serve yourself a single portion instead of eating from the bag, chew slowly to savor the taste, and pay attention to hunger cues before reaching for more. It's also beneficial to remove distractions, such as screens, during snack time so you can focus on the eating experience.

Ask a question about Shrimp Chips and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • headaches
  • flushing
  • sweating
  • gastrointestinal symptoms
  • increased blood pressure
  • allergic reactions
  • hyperactivity in children

Possible long-term side effects

  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • type 2 diabetes
  • inflammation
  • cardiovascular disease
  • kidney disease
  • high ldl cholesterol

Ingredients to be aware of

  • monosodium glutamate (msg)
  • tertiary butylhydroquinone (tbhq)
  • stearoyl lactylate
  • artificial colorings
  • tartrazine (yellow no. 5)
  • allura red (red no. 40)
  • indigo carmine (blue no. 2)
  • sodium
  • trans fats
  • partially hydrogenated oils

Healthier alternatives

  • snacks low in sodium
  • snacks high in healthy fats
  • homemade shrimp chips
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • nuts

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Seapoint Dry Roasted Edamame

  • Rich in protein
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Gluten-free snack
  • Kosher certified
  • Non-GMO
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 02-27-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 02-27-2024

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