A top question for moms to be is “Can pregnant women eat seafood?” As the hormones begin to change every part of the body, you might not exactly be thinking about which foods provide key nutrients and more about which ones will simply stay in your belly. When it comes to eating seafood while pregnant and pregnancy nutrition in general, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there.
You may have heard that you can’t eat any seafood while pregnant, or that you should only eat low mercury fish. In reality, most types of seafood are safe to eat during pregnancy, as long as you stick to certain guidelines and know how much fish you should be consuming to stay safe. So what types of seafood can you safely eat while pregnant? Keep reading to find out!
Nutritional Benefits of Seafood
You’ve probably heard plenty about the dangers of eating shellfish and fish during pregnancy, but as long as you are careful about the kinds and amounts of fish you’re ordering, there are actually some valuable benefits to keeping it in your diet.
Both fish and shellfish are great sources of protein, as well as plenty in iron and zinc. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids, some of which have been known to be good for fetal brain development.
In fact, seafood can be so beneficial to a developing babies that the Food and Drug Administration has recommended that pregnant women eat between eight and 12 ounces of low-mercury seafood per week.
Dangers of Eating Seafood While Pregnant
Of course, those warnings you’ve heard are not without merit. Seafood contains mercury, with some kinds of fish containing much higher levels of it than others. While even those higher levels aren’t a huge concern for most people who consume a lot of seafood, it can be an issue for those who are pregnant.
This is because regularly eating fish that are high in mercury can lead to these levels building up in your bloodstream, which can be dangerous for a baby’s brain and nervous system.
What Seafood is Safe to Eat While Pregnant
So, what seafood can you eat while pregnant? There are a couple rules of thumb: Look for something that is both low in mercury, and something high in those helpful essential nutrients, such as the gold star Omega-3 fatty acids.
Good options for eating seafood during pregnancy include:
- Black Sea bass
- Pacific mackerel
- Freshwater trout
- Light canned tuna
Shrimp, squid, tilapia, cook clams, hake, and smoked seafood are also good choices with different health benefits.
Should Pregnant Women Limit Seafood Consumption
When eating fish during pregnancy guidelines say you can have anywhere from two to three servings per week. There are some specific fish that experts agree pregnant women can still eat, but in more limited quantities such as:
- Albacore tuna
- canned light tuna
What Seafood Should You Avoid While Pregnant
Seafood is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are important for a developing baby. However, some seafood contains high levels of mercury, which can damage the baby’s developing nervous system that should be avoided.
Avoid larger and predator fish, which tend to have higher levels of mercury. Those include:
- King mackerel
And when it comes to sushi as a whole it’s a good idea to skip it while pregnant, as you may be more susceptible to the harmful bacteria and viruses in raw fish or undercooked fish. If you choose to eat fish in the form of sushi ensure you are only eating options that include fried or fully cooked. For similar reasons, make sure you abide by the recommended temperatures when you cook fish at home as well to avoid food poisoning: an Internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Final Verdict: What Seafood Can You Eat While Pregnant
If you’re pregnant and want to eat fish, who’s to say you don’t get to enjoy seafood? The FDA recommends that pregnant women eat no more than 12 ounces of cooked fish per week, but that if prepared properly there is no need to avoid fish.
If this blog has left you craving a tasty fresh seafood dish, wait no more! You can order an N.C. Seafood’s Calabash-style jumbo shrimp, catfish, trout, or any other favorites for pickup today. Just make sure to keep track of the amount of servings you are eating each week, and the type of fish you have chosen, so you can keep your mercury levels safe for you and your little one.