Shrimps, together with prawns, are one of the most widely consumed aquatic sources of food in all parts of the world. Because of their high commercial and nutritious values, shrimps and prawns are also farmed and harvested on a large scale for sale in the local and export markets.
Though shrimps and prawns belong to different suborders of Decapoda and also belong to different species, in common parlance and in general usage, they are either considered the same or as belonging to the same class of crustaceans. Also the terms are used either interchangeably, or with the opposite meanings. For instance, prawns are more common on menus than shrimps in the United Kingdom, whereas the word shrimp is the most commonly used term in North America. The same kind of usage, or misusage, can be found in most English-speaking countries. Also, there are shrimps and prawns of both fresh water and seawater species, but all of them are mostly considered seafood.
Shrimps are rich sources of nutritional elements such as iodine and calcium, as well as proteins, but low in calories. Although shrimps are very high in cholesterol, it is not considered harmful because the low levels of saturated fat in shrimps improve the ratio of LDL (Low-density lipoprotein) to HDL (High-density lipoprotein) and decreases the levels of triglycerides. Also, regular intake of shrimp keeps the circulatory system healthy.
However, shrimps, along with other shellfishes, are considered as the most common food allergens. Also, shrimp food can sometimes contain the highest levels of toxins, if they are caught from polluted water, because the resistance of shrimps to toxic substances is one of the highest among aquatic and marine life forms.