Your diet is one of the most important aspects you need to take care of during your pregnancy. A vital part of this diet contains fish. This article helps you know which fish is safe during pregnancy, and which isn’t.
A balanced diet comprising vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals is very essential for the overall health of a human being; however, it gains the utmost importance during pregnancy. Fish is a great source of iron, zinc, lean protein, and omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for the growth and development of the baby’s brain and the nervous system. However, some fish can be contaminated with mercury. Regular consumption of fish high in mercury will lead to accumulation of this element in the bloodstream over time. This excess mercury in the blood can affect the fetal brain development. Therefore, pregnant women or those trying to conceive need to be cautious while consuming seafood.
According to the FDA, mothers-to-be and women who are trying to become pregnant can safely consume not more than 12 oz of low-mercury fish weekly. Fish with the highest mercury content should be strictly avoided, and only three 6-oz servings per month of high-mercury fish should be consumed.
The following table lists the data obtained by the FDA and the EPA:
|Highest Mercury Fish||Marlin, Orange roughy, Tilefish, Swordfish, Shark, Mackerel (king), Tuna (bigeye, Ahi)|
|High Mercury Fish||Sea Bass (Chilean), Bluefish, Grouper, Mackerel (Spanish, Gulf), Tuna (canned, white albacore), Tuna (yellowfin)|
|Lower Mercury Fish||Bass (striped, black), Carp, Cod (Alaskan), Croaker (White Pacific), Halibut (Pacific and Atlantic), Jacksmelt (Silverside), Lobster, Mahi Mahi, Monkfish, Perch (freshwater), Sablefish, Skate, Snapper, Sea Trout (Weakfish), Tuna (canned, chunk light), Tuna (Skipjack)|
|Lowest Mercury Fish||Anchovies, Butterfish, Catfish, Clam, Crab (domestic), Crawfish/crayfish, Croaker, Flounder, Haddock, Hake, Herring, Mackerel (N Atlantic, Chub), Mullet, Oysters, Perch (ocean), Plaice, Salmon (canned, fresh), Sardines, Scallops, American shad, Shrimp, Sole, Squid (Calamari), Tilapia, Trout (freshwater), Whitefish, Whiting|
The consumption of seafood that is low in mercury and high in omega-3 fatty acids will be very beneficial during pregnancy. It includes:
- Atlantic and Pacific mackerel
While consuming seafood, pregnant women should follow the precautionary measures given below:
- Avoid fish that contain high levels of mercury.
- Avoid refrigerated, smoked seafood labeled as nova style, jerky, or kippered as it could be contaminated with listeria.
- If consuming fish from local waters, take the help of the EPA to determine which lakes or rivers are not contaminated.
- Cook the seafood properly, especially shellfish, oysters, clams, and mussels. This will prevent the ingestion of harmful bacteria and viruses.
- Avoid raw shellfish.
Low-mercury seafood consumption in moderate quantities during pregnancy hasn’t been reported to cause problems. Also, the omega-3 fatty acids in many types of fish can promote healthy fetal growth. Therefore, mothers-to-be can include seafood in their diet plan as long as they avoid fish known to be highly contaminated with mercury.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.