Is it safe to eat seafood during pregnancy?


Will my baby be affected if I enjoy my favorite seafood dish?


It is the number one question I get from the moms-to-be attending the program I am coaching - MOMS4WELLNESS sponsored by Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Broward County https://www.hmhbbroward.org/

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Seafood is a great source of:

  1. Protein

  2. Iron

  3. Sink

  4. Omega-3 (essential fatty acid).

ALL Crucial Nutrients for your Baby’s growth and development and

Omega-3 = CAN promote your baby's brain development


The main concern is mercury contamination


Mercury is a substance that accumulates in the bloodstream over time and could damage your baby’s developing and nervous system. All seafood contains some mercury.


So is it safe to eat seafood while I am pregnant and how much?

Yes it is safe! And if you follow the following simple rules you can enjoy your seafood with no worries...

  • Eat no more than 12 ounces of seafood per week

  • Eat the best type with the most nutrients - wild, fresh, high in Omega-3 fatty acids

  • Avoid large/old predatory fish that could contain high levels of mercury. The bigger the fish, the higher mercury content.

  • DO NOT Eat ANY raw, jerky and smoked seafood


Avoid large, predatory fish

All seafood, particularly fish, has mercury, and large and old predatory fishes has the highest content because they are bigger, older and will consume more fishes which also contain mercury


Avoid...

  • SHARK

  • SWORDFISH

  • KING MACKEREL

  • TILEFISH

  • TUNA

**check which ones are the lowest at www.seafoodwatch.org/



Consume fish based on higher nutrients and lowest mercury content which some of them are:


  • Sardine

(Wild, Cheap, Calcium/Vit D, High Omega-3, lowest in Mercury)

  • Herring

  • Salmon

  • Anchovies

  • Cod

  • Lake / freshwater trout

  • Shrimps (although not a fish - is ok to eat it under same guide)

How much fish is recommended


Seafood is a good source of nutrients, however, it might pose a health risk to the baby. Therefore consumption should be limited to 8 ounces and up to 12 ounces (340 grams) PER WEEK of a variety of seafood lower in mercury. That's about two to three servings per week.



Go ahead and enjoy your seafood, but keep in mind these key points...


When Purchasing Fish:

  1. Choose Fish that are high in Omega-3

  2. Choose seafood low in Mercury – Avoid large fishes to reduce exposure (no shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish)

  3. Select Wild, Safely Sourced and Sustainably Caught

  4. If choosing preserved fish, purchase them in pouches or in glass containers instead of in cans but if buying cans, select cans that are BPA-Free

Eat no more than 12 ounces a week of a variety of seafood, low in mercury (6 ounces, two times per week)


Understand local fish advisories: If you eat fish from local waters, pay attention to local advisories. If advice isn't available, limit fish from local waters to 6 ounces (170 grams) a week.


Cook seafood properly

  1. Most seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 F (63C).

  2. Fish is done when it separates into flakes and appears opaque throughout.

  3. Cook shrimp and lobster until the flesh is pearly and opaque.

  4. Cook clams, mussels and oysters until their shells open. Discard any that don't open

DO NOT EAT uncooked fish and shellfish – to avoid harmful bacteria or viruses, do not eat seafood or fish including oysters, sushi, sashimi and refrigerated uncooked seafood labeled nova style, lox, kippered, smoked or jerky


COOKING FISH AT HOME...

Usually people are afraid of experimenting cooking seafood at home. If you are not sure how to cook fish at home, you will be pleasantly surprised how easy it is.


I have included a video of a cooking class showing how to make a beautiful meal that is not only delicious but nutritious using Wild Salmon, Pineapple, Broccoli and Sweet Potato


The Cooking Class Menu
  • Pan-Seared Teriyaki Salmon

  • Pineapple Relish

  • Garlicky Broccoli

  • Smashed Sweet Potatoes




Sources and resources

  • www.askdrsears.com

  • www.seafoodwatch.org/

  • Eat Right Now for a Healthy Pregnancy Booklet, Dr. Sears Wellness Institute -L.E.A.N. Expectations Course

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for pregnant women


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