The Low Down on Fish & Sushi During Pregnancy
Here are the top 3 questions we get all the time regarding fish and sushi during pregnancy:
Can I eat fish, or is it too high in mercury?
Are there certain types of fish I can eat, but others I should avoid?
Do I need to avoid sushi?
We are going to get to the bottom of these below. If you have any other questions regarding fish during pregnancy, please let us know if the comments below!
Fish and mercury risk during pregnancy
I want to come right out of the gate and say that the benefits of eating fish during pregnancy far outweigh the potential mercury risk. What you also might not know, fish is rich in selenium. Selenium actually binds mercury, reducing the toxic exposure, so it may not be as harmful as once thought.
Fish, like wild-caught salmon and mercury-safe tuna, are amazing sources of DHA, an anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid important for baby's brain development. To ensure you are getting enough DHA in your diet, we recommend consuming 12 ounces of low-mercury fish every week.
So what are the best options and what should you avoid?...
Best options vs worst options
Larger fish tend to contain more mercury, so you want to steer clear of these.
AVOID: king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish, ahi tuna, and bigeye tuna
Tuna is responsible for most of the mercury consumption in the U.S., but there are lower mercury tuna options on the market. Look for light or skipjack tuna when buying canned.
PROCEED WITH CAUTION: tuna - choose light or skipjack (we love Safe Catch) and limit to 6 ounces per week
To get to your recommend 12 ounces of fish per week there are still plenty of options to choose from.
GREEN LIGHT TO ENJOY: wild-caught salmon, tilapia, cod, trout, sardines, sole, whitefish, herring
sushi while pregnant
You will likely receive a lot of food safety precautions during pregnancy. These can range from cautioning against deli meat to avoiding runny egg yolks. To be clear, food contamination can happen to any food item. In fact, next to under-cooked poultry, veggies and leafy greens have the second highest likelihood of causing food poisoning. Of course, no one is going to recommend not eating vegetables while you are pregnant, despite the potential food safety risk. Ultimately, you have to make the call on your comfort level with what to eat and what to avoid, knowing that a lot of these precautions might not be completely necessary when you are sourcing high-quality food from grocery stores and restaurants you trust.
THE TAKEAWAY: Yes, you can eat sushi while you are pregnant. Avoid raw shellfish like shrimp, crab and scallops which should all be cooked before eaten during pregnancy. Raw fish, when sourced from a reliable restaurant, is not likely to cause any harm to you or baby-to-be. Limit your tuna and yellowtail consumption to just a few bites because of the higher mercury content. Salmon is your best bet!