What Seafood Can You Eat While Pregnant?

Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it also comes with a lot of questions and concerns. One of the most common questions is, “What seafood can you eat while pregnant?” Seafood is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, but some types of fish are high in mercury and can be harmful to your baby’s development. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what seafood is safe to eat during pregnancy and what you should avoid.

During pregnancy, it is important to maintain a healthy and balanced diet to support both the mother and the growing fetus. Seafood is a valuable source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other essential nutrients. However, some types of seafood may contain high levels of mercury and should be avoided during pregnancy. In this discussion, we will explore what seafood can be safely consumed during pregnancy and what types of seafood should be limited or avoided entirely.

Understanding Mercury Levels in Seafood

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that can be found in the environment, including bodies of water. Fish absorb mercury from their environment, and larger fish that have lived longer tend to have higher mercury levels. When you eat seafood that contains high levels of mercury, it can be harmful to your baby’s developing nervous system.

Seafood to Avoid

Certain types of seafood have been found to have high levels of mercury and should be avoided during pregnancy. These include:

  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • King mackerel
  • Tilefish

Safe Seafood Options

Thankfully, there are plenty of safe seafood options that you can enjoy during pregnancy. The following types of seafood are low in mercury and are safe to eat:

  • Salmon
  • Shrimp
  • Pollock
  • Catfish
  • Anchovies
  • Herring
  • Trout
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Other Seafood Safety Tips

While mercury levels are an important consideration when it comes to seafood and pregnancy, there are other safety tips you should keep in mind as well.

Cook Your Seafood Thoroughly

To reduce your risk of foodborne illness, it’s important to cook your seafood thoroughly. Make sure that your fish is cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F, and shrimp, lobster, and scallops are cooked until they are opaque.

Avoid Raw Seafood

Raw seafood, including sushi, sashimi, ceviche, and oysters, can be contaminated with harmful bacteria or viruses. These can be especially dangerous during pregnancy and should be avoided.

Choose Sustainable Seafood

In addition to considering mercury levels and cooking methods, you can also make choices that are better for the environment. When possible, choose seafood that is sustainably sourced and harvested.

FAQs for the topic: what seafood can you eat while pregnant

Can I eat seafood while pregnant?

Yes, pregnant women can eat seafood. Seafood is a rich source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients that are essential for fetal growth and development.

What types of seafood can I eat while pregnant?

You can eat a variety of seafood while pregnant, such as salmon, shrimp, pollock, catfish, and canned light tuna, among others. These types of seafood are lower in mercury, which is a neurotoxin that can affect the developing brain and nervous system of the fetus.

Are there any types of seafood that I should avoid during pregnancy?

Yes, there are certain types of seafood that you should avoid during pregnancy, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. These types of seafood are higher in mercury and can be harmful to the fetus if consumed in large amounts.

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How much seafood can I eat while pregnant?

The FDA recommends that pregnant women should consume 2 to 3 servings (or 8 to 12 ounces) of seafood per week that are lower in mercury, such as shrimp, salmon, and canned light tuna. It is important to choose a variety of seafood and not consume more than the recommended amount to avoid excessive mercury exposure.

Is it safe to eat raw or undercooked seafood during pregnancy?

No, it is not safe to eat raw or undercooked seafood during pregnancy. Raw seafood can contain harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause foodborne illness and complications during pregnancy. It is important to thoroughly cook seafood to a safe temperature to eliminate any harmful bacteria.


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