You’ve probably been told that eating seafood while pregnant is unsafe—but the truth is that pregnancy nutrition can be confusing, especially when it comes to seafood guidelines. We’re going to help you understand how seafood can actually offer vital nutrients during pregnancy, and the different kinds of seafood you can safely enjoy while pregnant.
Seafood & Pregnancy Nutrition
We already know that seafood is a great source of protein, iron, and zinc, but what many don’t know is that these are crucial nutrients for a baby’s growth and development. In fact, omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in many types of fish, can promote brain development in babies.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that pregnant women eat 8-12 ounces of low mercury seafood a week. This totals about two to three servings.
What Is Safe to Eat?
There are many seafood varieties that are low in mercury and high in Omega-3’s. These varieties include:
- Freshwater trout
- Pacific mackerel
- Canned light tuna (limited to 6 oz. a week)
When it comes to eating seafood while pregnant, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind:
Avoid large, predatory fish. This will help you reduce your exposure to mercury. We recommend that you abstain from consuming shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish.
Skip uncooked fish and shellfish. In order to avoid harmful bacteria and viruses, don’t eat uncooked fish and shellfish, including oysters, sushi, sashimi and refrigerated uncooked seafood.
Ensure you cook your seafood properly. Most seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 F. You can tell when fish is done because it becomes opaque throughout. Cook shrimp and lobster until the flesh is pearly and opaque. Cook clams, mussels and oysters until their shells open. Discard any that don’t open.