Is It Safe To Eat Fish During Pregnancy?
Can you eat fish during pregnancy?
The FDA and EPA recommend eating 2 to 3 servings (8 to 12 ounces) of fish each week when you’re pregnant or trying to conceive. Fish are a major source of essential nutrients, including iron, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, iodine, and choline. During pregnancy, these nutrients can help support your baby’s brain, spinal cord, and immune system development. And they’re great for your heart health too!
There are many benefits to eating fish during pregnancy, but some fish may be dangerous for you and your unborn child. Keep reading for our breakdown of which fish you should enjoy and avoid while pregnant.
What types of fish should you completely avoid while pregnant?
There are two groups of seafood to avoid during pregnancy: raw fish and high-mercury fish. Raw seafood may carry bacteria (like Listeria) and parasites that can make you sick and potentially harm the pregnancy. So, you’ll need to avoid:
- Raw scallops
- Raw clams
- Raw oysters
Mercury in seafood isn’t a huge concern for most adults, but it can be dangerous during pregnancy, negatively affecting the baby’s brain and nervous system development. Avoid these high-mercury seafood options:
- Bigeye tuna
- King mackerel
- Orange roughy
- Tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico
Which fish should you limit during pregnancy?
Some types of seafood are safe to eat in moderation, but they contain too much mercury to star in more than one dinner each week. If you chow down on anything off this list, you should stick to low-mercury seafood for the rest of the week. Limit these fish—and others with a similar mercury content—to one four-ounce serving a week:
- Buffalo fish
- Chilean sea bass (Patagonian toothfish)
- Mahi-mahi (dolphinfish)
- Spanish mackerel
- Striped bass (ocean)
- Tilefish from the Atlantic Ocean
- Tuna (albacore, white, and yellowfin)
Which fish are safe to eat while pregnant?
Now, it’s time for the good part! Let’s talk about the seafood you can actually enjoy during pregnancy. Thankfully, this includes most fish and shellfish you’ll find at restaurants and grocery stores. Here’s a quick list of seafood you can safely eat 2 to 3 servings of each week (try to include a wide variety in your diet!):
- Anchovies and sardines
- Canned light tuna
- Clams, oysters, scallops
- Cod, haddock, pollock, and tilapia
- Crab, lobster, and squid
- Crawfish and shrimp
- Freshwater trout
A note on preparing fish during pregnancy
To protect yourself and your developing baby from the dangers of raw seafood, make sure any fish you eat has been cooked to an internal temperature of 145° Fahrenheit. It should look opaque and easily separate into flakes. Refrigerated smoked seafood (think: lox, fish jerky, nova style, and kippered fish) should be heated to an internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit before eating to avoid potential Listeria exposure.
To sum things up, you totally can—and should—enjoy some seafood while you’re pregnant! Just make sure to stay away from raw and high-mercury fish and shellfish. And, of course, talk with your provider before trying any seafood you’re unsure about.
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Please note: JunoDx.com and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.