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Answers from the BJC Experts

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What are the health effects of shrimp paste?

Fish paste — or shrimp paste — is a common condiment in many Thai and Filipino dishes as a flavor extender. Misconceptions on health hazards arise from its preparation, including the wet-treatment of fish or shrimp with salt over a long period.

Shrimp paste contains a relatively high level of a polyunsaturated fatty acid technically known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), essential for neural development in infants during their first few years. The acid components also perform a vital function in brain and retina development, but it also plays an important role in preventing stroke, heart disease, arthritis and non-dependency on insulin. Shrimp paste is rich in protein, B vitamins, calcium and iodine.

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