Congrats, mama- or papa-to-be! For all you expectant readers out there, we know that figuring out what to eat (and what not to eat) during pregnancy can be confusing and sometimes overwhelming. We get asked a lot about whether it’s safe for pregnant women to eat seafood, so we thought it would be helpful to share the latest science and recommendations on the subject.
During pregnancy, your nutrient needs increase, especially the need for protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. The best premiere food source of DHA and EPA is seafood, which also provides a boatload of protein. From salmon to sardines, critical prenatal nutrients are loaded in our favorite seafood dishes. Following the FDA guidelines (at least 2-3 servings of seafood daily) of the standard American diet, the American Pregnancy Association also advises those in various trimesters of pregnancy to have a seafood-rich diet, as well.
What are some of the health benefits of eating seafood while pregnant?
Here are just a few of the benefits derived from eating seafood regularly during pregnancy:
- Optimal brain development in baby
- Healthy eye formation in baby
- Quicken progress toward major infant milestones, like recognizing faces and head/neck stability
- Reduced risk of postpartum depression in mom
- Improved heart and brain health in mom
Now that we know fish is a healthy food staple in pregnancy, our best tip is to eat a variety of seafood!
Is there any kind of seafood I should avoid?
While there are many great sources of healthy seafood for prenatal health, some seafood species may be best avoided by pregnant women. These include:
- King mackerel
- Orange roughy
- Bigeye tuna (found in sushi)
If you are pregnant, avoid raw seafood! Make sure that any fish you are planning to eat has been cooked thoroughly – it should reach an internal minimum temperature of 145 degrees F.
Because of the abundance of advice surrounding the consumption of seafood while pregnant, we want to clear things up: American moms-to-be don’t eat nearly enough seafood as they should. Studies show that the average pregnant woman in the U.S. eats less than 2 ounces of seafood each week, a far cry from the 8-12 ounces recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Eating too little seafood during pregnancy may cause you – as well as your baby – to miss out on critical nutrients.
For more information, check out The Pregnant Woman’s Guide to Eating Seafood.