How many pounds of shrimp can you eat while pregnant?

Eating shrimp during pregnancy is generally considered safe and healthy in moderation. However, there are some important factors to consider when determining how much shrimp to eat.

Quick Answer

Most experts recommend limiting shrimp intake during pregnancy to around 2-3 servings per week, or about 1/2 pound cooked shrimp total. This equals around 4-6 average-sized shrimp per serving. It’s best to choose wild caught shrimp and avoid eating raw or undercooked shrimp due to risk of foodborne illnesses.

How Many Shrimp Can You Eat While Pregnant?

Here is a quick overview of shrimp consumption recommendations for pregnant women:

  • 1/2 pound cooked shrimp per week
  • 2-3 servings of shrimp per week
  • 4-6 average-sized shrimp per serving

So in total, pregnant women can safely eat around 1/2 pound, or about 16-18 medium shrimp per week. Let’s delve deeper into the reasons behind this recommendation.

Benefits of Eating Shrimp During Pregnancy

Shrimp can be a healthy part of a balanced diet during pregnancy. Here are some of the top benefits:

  • Protein – Shrimp is high in protein, providing about 20g protein per 3oz serving. Protein is essential for baby’s growth and development.
  • Omega-3s – Shrimp contains omega-3 fatty acids, which support fetal brain and eye development.
  • Vitamin B12 – Shrimp is high in vitamin B12, which helps prevent birth defects and promotes energy.
  • Selenium – Shrimp is a good source of selenium, an antioxidant that strengthens the immune system.
  • Choline – Shrimp contains choline, which is important for fetal brain function and development.

Potential Risks of Eating Too Much Shrimp

While shrimp can be safely eaten in moderation during pregnancy, there are some potential downsides to eating large amounts:

  • Mercury exposure – Some types of shrimp may contain mercury, which can harm fetal neurological development. It’s best to limit intake to 2-3 servings per week.
  • Allergic reaction – Some people are allergic to shellfish like shrimp. An allergic reaction could be dangerous for both mother and baby.
  • High cholesterol – Shrimp is relatively high in dietary cholesterol. Consuming high amounts could increase blood cholesterol levels.
  • Foodborne illness – Raw or undercooked shrimp carries a risk of salmonella, listeria, or norovirus, which can cause serious complications in pregnancy.

Tips for Eating Shrimp Safely During Pregnancy

Here are some tips to keep in mind when eating shrimp while pregnant:

  • Choose wild caught shrimp instead of farm-raised.
  • Eat smaller shrimp like popcorn shrimp which tend to be lower in mercury.
  • Cook shrimp thoroughly until opaque and flaky to kill any bacteria or parasites.
  • Avoid eating raw shrimp, such as in sushi or ceviche.
  • Check with your doctor if you have a seafood allergy.
  • Limit total seafood intake to 2-3 servings per week.

Nutrition Facts for Shrimp

Here is the nutrition information for a 3oz serving of cooked shrimp:

Nutrient Amount % Daily Value
Calories 84 4%
Protein 20g 40%
Total Fat 1g 2%
Omega-3 Fatty Acids 252mg N/A
Vitamin B12 1.5mcg 63%
Selenium 34mcg 49%
Cholesterol 172mg 57%

As you can see, shrimp is high in protein, healthy fats, and important nutrients like B12 and selenium. However, it is also relatively high in cholesterol. By limiting intake to 2-3 servings per week, pregnant women can get shrimp’s nutritional benefits while avoiding potential risks of excessive cholesterol or mercury exposure.

How Much Shrimp is Safe Per Day?

Rather than looking at shrimp consumption on a daily basis, it’s better for pregnant women to consider weekly limits. Here are shrimp safety recommendations per day:

  • 1 serving of shrimp 2-3 times per week
  • Around 4-6 medium shrimp per serving
  • Total of under 1/4 pound shrimp per day

So in a typical week, a pregnant woman could safely eat one shrimp-based meal 2-3 times, with a serving size of around 4-6 shrimp. This equals less than 1/4 pound of shrimp per day.

Consuming multiple servings or more than 1/4 pound daily could potentially put you over the recommended weekly limits for shrimp intake during pregnancy.

Daily Mercury Recommendations

Due to potential mercury exposure, it’s also important to pay attention to daily shrimp limits. Here are the recommendations for max mercury intake from shrimp while pregnant:

  • Under 0.22mg methylmercury per day
  • 4-5 servings of low mercury shrimp varieties per week
  • Avoid eating high mercury shrimp (like king mackerel) daily

The EPA sets a safe limit of 0.22mg methylmercury intake per day during pregnancy. On average, smaller shrimp like Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf shrimp contain around 0.015mg methylmercury per serving. So up to 4-5 low mercury shrimp meals per week can fit within safe limits for pregnant women.

Listen to Your Body

Beyond the daily recommendations, it’s also important to listen to your individual body and health signals. Here are some signs you may be eating too much shrimp:

  • Allergic reaction symptoms like rash, itching, swelling, vomiting
  • Diarrhea, stomach cramps, or nausea
  • Sudden spike in blood cholesterol level
  • Mercury overexposure symptoms like numbness, coordination issues

If you experience any concerning symptoms after eating shrimp, stop consumption and contact your doctor right away. Pay attention to your body and how you feel after eating shrimp to determine safe personal intake levels.

Common Questions

Can you eat shrimp every day while pregnant?

No, it is not recommended to eat shrimp every day during pregnancy. To limit mercury exposure, shrimp intake should be limited to 2-3 servings per week at most. Daily shrimp consumption could potentially lead to excessive mercury or cholesterol intake over time.

How many jumbo shrimp can I eat pregnant?

For jumbo shrimp that are around 1oz each, pregnant women should limit intake to about 4 jumbo shrimp two to three times per week. This equals around 6-8oz cooked jumbo shrimp per week. Larger shrimp tend to have slightly higher mercury levels so it’s best to eat a smaller amount.

Can I eat shrimp tempura when pregnant?

Yes, shrimp tempura can be eaten during pregnancy as long as the shrimp is cooked thoroughly until opaque and hot. Avoid any raw or undercooked shrimp. The main concern with tempura batter is that it can absorb oil during frying. To limit fat intake, it may be best to enjoy shrimp tempura only occasionally.

Is canned shrimp safe during pregnancy?

Yes, canned shrimp that is fully cooked can be safely eaten during pregnancy. Focus on low sodium options and limit intake to 2-3 servings from the can per week. Rinse canned shrimp before eating to remove some of the sodium. Avoid any uncooked or refrigerated shrimp found in the seafood section.

Can you reheat shrimp when pregnant?

It’s best to avoid reheating shrimp more than once. Reheating shrimp that has been previously cooked and refrigerated carries a higher risk of bacterial growth. Only reheat fully cooked shrimp once, until steaming hot throughout. Don’t eat reheated shrimp that smells or looks off.

The Bottom Line

Shrimp can be a healthy part of a balanced pregnancy diet in moderation.Aim to limit your intake to around 2-3 servings of shrimp per week, with a single serving size of about 4-6 medium shrimp. This equals around 1/2 pound total shrimp consumption per week. Be sure to cook shrimp fully, choose low mercury varieties, and avoid raw shrimp to minimize risks. Speak to your doctor about any food allergy concerns. With mindful and moderate shrimp eating practices, you can safely reap the nutritional benefits shrimp provides during pregnancy.

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