I was recently meeting with a patient to discuss nutrition recommendations for Gestational Diabetes. In talking to the patient about her dietary habits, she revealed that she loves fish and seafood but has been avoiding these during her pregnancy because she didn’t think they were safe. Although I was seeing her for gestational diabetes, I quickly switched my topic of education to food safety during pregnancy. The truth is, there are a lot of benefits to eating fish while pregnant! As with many other nutrition topics, I think the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of pregnancy lead to a lot of confusion and many women cut out foods unnecessarily. Not all fish is safe during pregnancy, but there are plenty that can be safely consumed and provide critical nutrients to mom and baby!
YES! Tilapia, Cod, Salmon, Crab, Shrimp, Canned Light Tuna, Pollock and/or Catfish
8-12 oz. per week of Tilapia, Cod, Salmon, Crab, Shrimp, Canned Light Tuna, Pollock and/or Catfish can be safely eaten during pregnancy. Albacore or White Tuna is a little different than Canned Light Tuna, and 6 oz. weekly of this type of fish has been proven safe. Fish is packed with protein and iron, which are both needed in larger amounts during pregnancy. Oily fish like Salmon is dense in DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that is linked to brain growth and development for baby.
NO! Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, Tilefish and Raw Fish
Fish to AVOID include: Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, Tilefish and Raw Fish (sushi, ceviche, etc.).These types should be avoided due to the levels of Methyl Mercury that they can contain. Methyl Mercury has been linked to brain and kidney damage in the fetus.
With healthy eating in general, I recommend using the “Diabetes Plate Method” at meals to obtain nutrients from all food groups. While pregnant, swap chicken or beef with Salmon or Canned Light Tuna as a protein source twice per week to gain vital nutrients for you and baby!