Can you eat anchovies straight from the jar when pregnant?

Eating anchovies during pregnancy is generally considered safe and healthy in moderation. Anchovies are a good source of nutrients like protein, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and iron which are important for both mother and baby. However, there are some things to keep in mind when consuming anchovies while pregnant.

Quick Answer

Yes, pregnant women can eat anchovies straight from the jar, but in moderation. Anchovies are safe to eat during pregnancy and provide beneficial nutrients. However, be mindful of the sodium content and only eat 2-3 anchovies per serving. Rinse anchovies before eating to reduce sodium intake. Also, opt for anchovies packed in oil rather than brine to limit sodium consumption.

Are Anchovies Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?

Yes, anchovies are considered safe to eat during pregnancy. Here are some key points about eating anchovies when pregnant:

  • Anchovies are a good source of nutrients needed during pregnancy like protein, calcium, omega-3s, iron, and vitamin B12.
  • The FDA includes anchovies on its list of best choices of fish to eat while pregnant. This is because anchovies are low in mercury.
  • Eating 2-3 servings of low mercury fish like anchovies per week is recommended during pregnancy by health organizations.
  • However, it’s best to eat anchovies in moderation due to their high sodium content.

Nutritional Benefits of Eating Anchovies During Pregnancy

Here are some of the key nutrients pregnant women can obtain from eating anchovies:


Anchovies are an excellent source of protein. A 3 ounce serving contains 18g of protein. Consuming adequate protein is crucial during pregnancy to support fetal growth and development as well as maintain the mother’s health.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Anchovies are one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA which are important for your baby’s brain and eye development. Omega-3s also provide benefits for the mother like reducing inflammation and supporting a healthy pregnancy.


Pregnant women have higher iron needs, and anchovies are a good source with 3 ounces providing 3mg of iron. Iron is needed to make hemoglobin and transport oxygen to your growing baby.


Calcium is needed for building your baby’s bones and anchovies are a great source with around 150mg per 3 ounce serving. Inadequate calcium intake during pregnancy may increase risk of preeclampsia.

Vitamin B12

Anchovies are high in vitamin B12 providing over 300% of the recommended daily amount pregnant women need per serving. Vitamin B12 aids baby’s neurological development and helps produce red blood cells.

Are There Any Risks With Eating Anchovies When Pregnant?

There are a couple risks associated with eating anchovies during pregnancy:

High Sodium Content

The main risk is anchovies’ high sodium content. A 3 ounce serving contains over 600mg of sodium, which is about 1/4 of the daily limit recommended during pregnancy. Consuming too much sodium can increase pregnancy complications like high blood pressure, swelling, and preeclampsia.

Foodborne Illness

As with any fish product, pregnant women should take care to eat anchovies that are fresh and properly stored to avoid exposure to bacteria like Listeria monocytogenes which can cause foodborne illness. Refrigerate after opening and discard if they smell or look bad.

Tips for Eating Anchovies During Pregnancy

Here are some tips to eat anchovies safely and healthfully during pregnancy:

  • Rinse anchovies under running water before eating to remove some excess sodium.
  • Opt for anchovies packed in oil instead of brine which has significantly higher sodium levels.
  • Limit portion sizes to 2-3 anchovies per serving.
  • Pair anchovies with fresh vegetables or salads to balance the saltiness.
  • Look for low sodium or no salt added varieties.
  • Refrigerate after opening and use within 1-2 days.
  • Cook anchovies to further reduce sodium levels.

Healthy Recipes With Anchovies for Pregnant Women

Here are some healthy recipe ideas for pregnant women wanting to incorporate anchovies into their diet:

Anchovy, Tomato, and White Bean Salad

Combine canned white beans, halved cherry tomatoes, fresh parsley, sliced anchovy fillets, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste. The beans provide fiber, tomatoes offer vitamin C, and parsley is rich in vitamin K.

Anchovy Pizza with Vegetables

Top a whole wheat pizza crust with tomato sauce, anchovy fillets, mushrooms, onions, spinach, and goat cheese. Bake until crust is golden and cheese melted. The vegetables provide important nutrients like folate, potassium, and vitamin A.

Anchovy Pasta

Saute minced garlic and oil, then add anchovy fillets to melt into the oil. Toss with whole wheat pasta, fresh basil, parsley, lemon juice and parmesan cheese. Excellent sources of iron, calcium, and vitamin C for mom and baby.

Baked Anchovy Snacks

Arrange anchovy fillets on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and garlic powder. Bake 10 minutes until crispy. Serve with sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, olives for a nutritious snack.

Should Pregnant Women Limit Anchovy Intake?

Pregnant women do not necessarily need to limit anchovies completely but moderation is advised. Here are some recommendations for anchovy consumption during pregnancy:

  • Aim to eat no more than 2-3 anchovy fillets per serving.
  • Limit total anchovy intake to 2-3 servings per week.
  • Avoid eating anchovies daily due to the high sodium content.
  • Pair anchovies with low sodium foods like vegetables and salads.
  • Opt for low sodium anchovy varieties when possible.
  • Drink plenty of water to counterbalance sodium intake.
  • Monitor for swelling and high blood pressure if eating anchovies regularly.

Talk to your doctor about your specific dietary needs and how much anchovies you can safely consume during pregnancy.

Can You Eat Anchovies Straight from the Jar When Pregnant?

Yes, it is safe to eat anchovies straight from the jar during pregnancy, though rinsing first is recommended. Here are some tips for eating anchovies straight from the jar if pregnant:

  • Rinse anchovies under cool water before eating to remove excess oil or brine and lower the sodium content.
  • Limit to 2-3 anchovies per serving eaten straight from the jar.
  • Choose jars with anchovies packed in olive oil rather than brine for less sodium.
  • Opt for low sodium varieties when possible.
  • Drink plenty of water when eating anchovies straight from the jar to stay hydrated.
  • Avoid double dipping from the jar to reduce bacteria contamination risk.
  • Refrigerate opened jars and use within 1-2 days.

With proper precautions, pregnant women can certainly enjoy anchovies straight from the jar as part of a balanced pregnancy diet. But be mindful of portions and sodium content.


Anchovies can be a healthy addition to the diet for pregnant women when consumed in moderation. They provide beneficial nutrients like protein, omega-3s, calcium, iron, and vitamin B12 that mothers and babies need. However, be mindful of limiting sodium intake by rinsing anchovies before eating, opting for those packed in oil, controlling portions, and pairing them with low sodium foods. Overall, enjoying 2-3 servings of anchovies per week can be safe and provide nutritional benefits during pregnancy when done responsibly.

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