Discover the seafood options that are safe for expecting mothers

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: pregnant women can safely consume certain types of seafood

In this article, we will explore the seafood choices that are considered safe for pregnant women to consume

We will also provide important guidelines for selecting and preparing seafood during pregnancy

By following these recommendations, you can enjoy the benefits of seafood while ensuring the well-being of both you and your baby

Importance of Seafood in Pregnancy

Seafood is a valuable addition to a pregnant woman’s diet due to its numerous nutritional benefits. It is packed with essential nutrients that support the healthy development of both the mother and the baby. Including seafood in your pregnancy diet can provide you with a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for the optimal growth and development of your baby.

Nutritional Benefits of Seafood

Seafood is a fantastic source of high-quality protein, which is essential for the growth and repair of tissues in the body. It also contains important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, vitamin B12, iodine, and zinc. These nutrients play a vital role in supporting the immune system, bone development, and maintaining overall good health for both the mother and the baby.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Brain Development

One of the most significant benefits of consuming seafood during pregnancy is the abundance of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats are crucial for the development of the baby’s brain and eyes. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), contribute to better cognitive and visual development in children. Including omega-3-rich seafood, such as salmon and sardines, in your diet can provide you and your baby with these important nutrients.

Protein and Essential Nutrients

Seafood is an excellent source of protein, which is vital for the proper growth and development of the baby. It also contains essential nutrients such as iron, which helps prevent anemia, and folate, which is crucial for the formation of the baby’s neural tube. Including a variety of seafood in your diet can ensure that you are getting these essential nutrients that are necessary for a healthy pregnancy.

Did you know? According to the American Pregnancy Association, pregnant women can safely consume up to 12 ounces (340 grams) of low-mercury seafood per week to reap the nutritional benefits without any risks.

For more information on safe seafood choices during pregnancy, you can visit

Seafood to Avoid During Pregnancy

When it comes to seafood choices during pregnancy, it’s important to be aware of certain types of fish that should be avoided. These fish can contain high levels of mercury, be raw or undercooked, or be excessively oily. By avoiding these seafood options, you can reduce the risk of potential harm to both you and your baby.

High Mercury Fish

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that can be found in varying amounts in different types of fish. While seafood is generally a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and other important nutrients, certain fish species tend to have higher mercury levels, making them unsafe for consumption during pregnancy. These include shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. High levels of mercury can be harmful to the developing nervous system of your baby.

Raw or Undercooked Seafood

Raw or undercooked seafood, such as sushi or sashimi, should also be avoided during pregnancy. These dishes may contain harmful bacteria or parasites that can cause foodborne illnesses, such as listeriosis or toxoplasmosis. These infections can lead to serious complications for both you and your baby. It is recommended to cook seafood thoroughly to kill any potential bacteria or parasites.

Excessively Oily Fish

While oily fish can be a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, consuming excessive amounts during pregnancy is not recommended. Oily fish such as tuna, salmon, and sardines contain higher levels of pollutants, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins. These pollutants can accumulate in your body and potentially harm the developing fetus. It is still safe to consume moderate amounts of low-mercury fish, like salmon, which provide essential nutrients without the risk of excessive pollutants.

To make safe seafood choices during pregnancy, it’s important to stay informed and consult with your healthcare provider. They can guide you on the best options that provide the necessary nutrients while minimizing potential risks. For more information and a comprehensive list of safe seafood choices, you can visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website or speak to a registered dietitian.

Safe Seafood Options for Expecting Mothers

When it comes to seafood consumption during pregnancy, it is important for expecting mothers to be aware of the potential risks associated with mercury exposure. However, seafood is also a great source of essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for the development of the baby’s brain and eyes. Therefore, making informed choices about which seafood to eat can help pregnant women enjoy the benefits while minimizing the risks.

Low Mercury Fish

Low mercury fish can be a safe and nutritious choice for pregnant women. These types of fish typically have lower mercury levels compared to larger predatory fish. Some examples of low mercury fish include:

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies

These fish are not only low in mercury but also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for the baby’s brain development.


Shellfish, such as shrimp, crab, and lobster, can also be enjoyed by pregnant women. They are low in mercury and provide essential nutrients like protein, iron, and zinc. However, it is important to ensure that they are properly cooked to prevent any risk of foodborne illnesses.

Canned Tuna

Canned tuna is a popular seafood option for many people, including pregnant women. It is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. However, it is recommended to choose light canned tuna over albacore (white) tuna, as it generally contains lower mercury levels.


Salmon is not only a low mercury fish but also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are important for the development of the baby’s nervous system. Wild-caught salmon is generally considered a healthier choice than farmed salmon due to its higher omega-3 content and lower exposure to contaminants.

Remember, moderation is key when consuming seafood during pregnancy. It is recommended to limit the intake to 2-3 servings per week and to avoid high mercury fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.

For more information on safe seafood choices for pregnant women, you can visit the FDA website or consult with your healthcare provider.

Guidelines for Selecting and Preparing Seafood

Choosing Fresh and Quality Seafood

When it comes to seafood, freshness is key. Pregnant women should prioritize selecting fresh and high-quality seafood to ensure the safety of both themselves and their unborn child. Look for reputable fish markets or grocery stores that have a good reputation for selling fresh seafood. Fresh seafood should have a mild oceanic smell and firm flesh. Avoid seafood that smells strongly or has a fishy odor, as this may indicate that it is not fresh.

Website Reference: FDA: Fresh and Frozen Seafood: Selecting and Serving It Safely

Proper Cooking Techniques

Cooking seafood thoroughly is essential to eliminate any potential harmful bacteria or parasites. Pregnant women should ensure that seafood is cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145°F (63°C). This can be measured using a food thermometer. Avoid consuming raw or undercooked seafood, as it may pose a risk of foodborne illnesses.

Website Reference: CDC: Vibrio species causing Vibriosis

Avoiding Cross-Contamination

Proper handling and storage of seafood are crucial in preventing cross-contamination. Pregnant women should separate raw seafood from other food items to prevent the spread of bacteria. It is recommended to store seafood in leak-proof containers and keep it refrigerated at a temperature below 40°F (4°C). Additionally, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling raw seafood to avoid transferring any potential pathogens.

Website Reference: Separate

Moderation and Portion Control

While seafood is a nutritious choice for pregnant women, moderation and portion control are important. Some types of seafood, such as certain species of fish, may contain higher levels of mercury, which can be harmful to the developing fetus. Pregnant women should refer to guidelines provided by reputable health organizations, such as the FDA or EPA, to determine safe seafood choices and recommended serving sizes.

Website Reference: EPA: What You Need to Know about Mercury in Fish and Shellfish

Consult Your Healthcare Provider

When it comes to making safe seafood choices during pregnancy, it is always recommended to consult your healthcare provider. They can provide you with individualized recommendations based on your specific needs and circumstances. Your healthcare provider will take into consideration factors such as your overall health, any existing medical conditions, and any dietary restrictions you may have.

Individualized Recommendations

Every pregnancy is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Your healthcare provider will be able to provide you with personalized guidance on the types and amounts of seafood that are safe for you to consume during pregnancy. They can take into account factors such as your nutritional needs, any concerns you may have, and the specific risks associated with certain types of seafood.

Potential Allergies or Sensitivities

If you have a known seafood allergy or sensitivity, it is important to let your healthcare provider know. They can help you identify safe options and suggest alternatives that will provide you with the necessary nutrients without putting you or your baby at risk. Your healthcare provider may also recommend allergy testing to determine if you have any other food allergies that you should be aware of during pregnancy.

Medical Conditions or Dietary Restrictions

If you have any existing medical conditions or dietary restrictions, your healthcare provider will take these into account when providing recommendations for safe seafood choices. For example, if you have gestational diabetes, your healthcare provider may advise you to avoid certain types of seafood that are high in mercury or may recommend limiting your intake of fish altogether. Similarly, if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, your healthcare provider can help you find alternative sources of essential nutrients found in seafood.

Remember, your healthcare provider is there to support you throughout your pregnancy journey. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them for guidance on making safe and healthy seafood choices.


In conclusion, while certain seafood options should be avoided during pregnancy due to their high mercury content or potential risks of foodborne illnesses, there are still many safe and nutritious choices available for expecting mothers.

By incorporating low mercury fish, shellfish, canned tuna, and salmon into your diet, you can obtain essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamins.

Remember to follow the guidelines for selecting and preparing seafood, and always consult your healthcare provider for personalized recommendations based on your specific needs and circumstances.

With proper knowledge and precautions, you can enjoy the benefits of seafood while ensuring a healthy pregnancy for you and your baby.

Similar Posts