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May 14, 2020

Can Pregnant Women Eat Sushi?

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Is It Okay To Eat Sushi While Pregnant?

If you are eating a healthy diet while pregnant or breastfeeding, you have nothing to worry about. However, there are certain foods that are not safe for pregnant women. That may lead you to ask – can pregnant women eat sushi?

That depends on the types of sushi rolls you are eating.

Avoid Raw And Undercooked Seafood

According to FoodSafety.gov, any sushi with raw or undercooked seafood is off-limits for pregnant women. This counts for you if you are trying to get pregnant too.

According to Kristian Morey, RD, LDN, clinical dietician at The Center for Endocrinology at Mercy Medical Center, “pregnant women are more susceptible to infection, which can increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, uterine infection, and preterm delivery.”

Eating raw or undercooked fish can potentially expose your growing baby to bacteria, mercury, and other harmful parasites.

One of those bacteria is listeria, which can cause listeriosis. This a type of food poisoning, and pregnant women are at a higher risk of getting it. Listeriosis can pose a serious health risk for you and your baby. can pregnant women eat sushi

Avoid Fish That Is High In Mercury

Fish is generally good for you, but according to the FDA and EPA, fish that are high in mercury must be avoided while you’re pregnant or nursing. Babies exposed to mercury in the womb can have neurological issues like brain damage because mercury has toxic effects on the nervous system during development. Mercury can also cause hearing and vision problems.

The biggest mercury culprits that are to be avoided:

  • Blue Fish
  • King mackerel
  • Marlin
  • Grouper
  • Orange Roughy
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish (from the Gulf of Mexico)
  • Tuna (Bigeye, Ahi)

Want Sushi While Pregnant? Do This Instead

If you need sushi while pregnant, you can absolutely have it if you stick to these rules: can pregnant women eat sushi

Eat Cooked Sushi Rolls And Veggie Rolls

Fish is generally good for you. The FDA recommends eating 8 to 12 ounces of fish low in mercury per week. 

There are lots of cooked sushi rolls, some very popular, like California rolls and Ebi rolls. California rolls are usually made with imitation crab meat. Since imitation crab meat is cooked and made from lower-mercury fish, it’s generally considered safe for a pregnant woman to eat.

Some cooked sushi rolls you may see on the menu include:

  • California rolls (imitation crab)
  • Ebi rolls (shrimp)
  • Unagi rolls (cooked eel)
  • Spicy chicken sushi roll
  • Spicy crab roll
  • Spicy shrimp roll
  • Chicken katsu roll

Some Vegan rolls you may see on a menu include:

  • Cucumber maki roll
  • Avocado roll
  • Cucumber avocado roll
  • Shiitake mushroom roll

Tell The Sushi Chef You’re Pregnant

Share your good news! Let the waitress and the chef know that you’re expecting. Ask the chef to switch to a clean knife and cutting board when preparing your meal to avoid cross-contamination.

Also, ask what the ingredients are in the rolls he/ she is preparing. Do not assume anything. For example, you may think you’re ordering a California roll that has imitation crab meat,  but there could be other types of harmful fish in the rolls that are high in mercury. It may feel weird to ask but when it comes to the health of your unborn baby, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Make Your Own Sushi

Instead of dining out, try whipping up your own sushi creations at home. By doing this, you can substitute bad ingredients for those that are good for your baby.


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