Is calamari safe for pregnancy?

Calamari, or squid, is a popular seafood dish that is enjoyed around the world. It’s especially popular in Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. During pregnancy, many women wonder if eating calamari is safe, or if they should avoid it.

The safety of eating calamari while pregnant depends on a few key factors:

How it’s prepared

Raw or undercooked calamari can pose health risks during pregnancy due to bacteria or parasites. However, when properly cooked, calamari is a nutritious seafood choice that is likely safe to eat.

Mercury levels

Some types of seafood are high in mercury, which can be harmful during pregnancy. However, calamari is low in mercury compared to fish like tuna or swordfish. As long as intake is limited, mercury in calamari is unlikely to be a major concern.

Allergies or sensitivities

If you have a seafood allergy or sensitivity, you’ll need to avoid calamari and all squid products during pregnancy. For most women without allergies, calamari is fine in moderation.

Overall, properly cooked calamari that comes from reputable sources is likely safe to eat during pregnancy. Read on for a full overview on the safety, benefits, and preparation tips for eating calamari while pregnant.

Is Eating Calamari Safe During Pregnancy?

Eating calamari is generally considered safe during pregnancy as long as a few guidelines are followed:

  • The calamari must be fully cooked until opaque and tender.
  • It should come from a reputable supplier with safe food handling practices.
  • Intake should be limited to 1-2 servings per week to minimize any potential mercury exposure.

By following these basic rules, most healthy pregnant women can safely enjoy calamari in moderation without worry.

Some specific safety considerations include:


Raw or undercooked squid may contain parasites like anisakis, which can cause an infection called anisakiasis. Thorough cooking kills any parasites, making calamari safe.


Like any seafood, raw calamari may harbor harmful bacteria like salmonella or Listeria. These are also killed through proper cooking.

Mercury levels

Calamari has fairly low mercury levels compared to fish like tuna, tilefish, or shark. Eating limited amounts is unlikely to expose you to excessive mercury.

Food poisoning

Food poisoning from contaminated seafood can cause serious illness in pregnancy. Get calamari from reputable sellers and cook thoroughly.


Those with seafood allergies must avoid calamari, as it may trigger a dangerous allergic reaction.

As long as you take basic precautions, the potential risks of eating calamari during pregnancy are minimal.

Nutrition Facts for Calamari

So we’ve established that properly prepared, cooked calamari is safe to eat during pregnancy in moderation. But is it healthy? What nutrients does calamari provide?

Here is an overview of the nutrition facts for a 3-ounce serving of fried calamari:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 145
Fat 4.5g
Saturated Fat 0.7g
Protein 16g
Sodium 450mg
Omega-3 fatty acids 500mg
Vitamin B12 1.7mcg
Selenium 44mcg
Copper 0.2mg

As you can see, calamari provides plenty of protein, important minerals like selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids.

The omega-3s in calamari offer excellent nutrition during pregnancy. Getting enough of these healthy fats helps fetal brain and eye development. Omega-3s also lower inflammation and the risk of preterm birth.

Calamari is also a rich source of vitamin B12, copper, and selenium – all nutrients that help support you and your growing baby.

Overall, moderate calamari intake can be part of a healthy pregnancy diet.

Benefits of Eating Calamari During Pregnancy

Beyond its nutritional content, here are some of the top benefits of adding calamari to your pregnancy diet:

1. Provides omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3s like DHA and EPA are critical for your baby’s brain, eye, and nervous system development. They also help reduce inflammation and the risk of preterm delivery or low birth weight. Calamari is one of the best omega-3 rich seafood options.

2. High in protein

Protein is vital during pregnancy to support fetal growth and development. It also keeps mom strong by maintaining muscle mass. Calamari is an excellent source of lean protein.

4. Rich in B vitamins

B vitamins like B12 and folate prevent birth defects and support red blood cell production. Calamari provides vitamin B12 along with other important B vitamins.

5. Contains iron and zinc

Iron supports red blood cell health and oxygen circulation. Zinc boosts immunity and cell division. Calamari contains both these minerals.

6. Provides selenium

This antioxidant mineral boosts immunity and thyroid health. It also protects cells from damage. Calamari is high in selenium.

7. Low mercury risk

Many seafood choices are high in mercury, which is dangerous during pregnancy. Calamari is very low in mercury, making it a safer choice.

The combination of protein, omega-3s, vitamins, and minerals make calamari a nutritious choice when pregnant. Enjoying it in moderation is certainly safe and healthy.

Potential Risks of Eating Calamari in Pregnancy

While calamari is safe for most, there are some potential risks to keep in mind:


Eating raw, undercooked, or sushi-grade squid can potentially expose you to parasites like Anisakis. Be sure calamari is thoroughly cooked until opaque.


Harmful bacteria may contaminate raw seafood. Choose calamari from reputable sellers and cook completely to kill bacteria.

Mercury exposure

Calamari is low in mercury, but eating excessive amounts could potentially raise mercury levels. Stick to 1-2 servings weekly.

Allergic reaction

Those allergic to squid or seafood should not eat calamari, as it may trigger a life-threatening reaction.

Food poisoning

Consuming contaminated seafood can cause foodborne illness. Take care to only eat properly handled calamari.

Overall, these risks are avoidable by taking basic food safety precautions. For most pregnant women, moderate calamari consumption is safe and healthy.

How Much Calamari is Safe to Eat?

Health experts typically recommend limiting seafood intake to no more than 2-3 servings per week during pregnancy. This general guideline also applies to eating calamari while pregnant.

Here is how much calamari pregnant women can safely eat:

  • 1-2 servings per week
  • Serving size = 3-4 ounces cooked
  • Total of 8-12 ounces weekly

Consuming up to 12 ounces of cooked calamari per week is considered safe during pregnancy by most experts. This level is unlikely to cause excessive mercury exposure.

Of course, speak to your doctor about your specific seafood consumption recommendations during pregnancy. Those with higher mercury levels may need to limit intake more strictly.

As long as you stick to the recommended intake limits, you can safely reap the nutritional benefits of calamari. Choosing a variety of low mercury seafood is ideal.

Selecting and Preparing Calamari

To enjoy safe calamari during pregnancy, follow these basic selection and preparation guidelines:

Choosing fresh vs. frozen

Fresh calamari should smell clean, not fishy. The flesh should be white with clear eyes. Frozen is fine too – just defrost safely before cooking.

Look for sustainability

Choose responsibly caught calamari certified as sustainable by organizations like the MSC.

Cook thoroughly

Calamari must be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F until opaque and tender. This kills any parasites or bacteria.

Try healthful recipes

Grilling, sautéing, or baking calamari are healthier than deep frying. Experiment with recipes that avoid heavy breading.

Avoid raw consumption

Raw or undercooked calamari may contain dangerous parasites. Only eat fully cooked.

By selecting and preparing calamari carefully, you can maximize the safety and nutrition.

Healthy Calamari Recipes for Pregnancy

Here are some nutritious and delicious recipes for enjoying calamari during pregnancy:

1. Grilled calamari with lemon

Grill calamari rings seasoned with garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Serve over greens for a simple, healthy meal.

2. Calamari salad

Sauté calamari and chill. Toss with mixed greens, chickpeas, olives, and vinaigrette dressing for a protein-packed salad.

3. Coconut curried calamari

Make a flavorful curry simmering calamari in coconut milk with spices like turmeric, cumin, and ginger.

4. Calamari tacos

Warm corn tortillas, add grilled calamari, creative toppings like mango salsa and shredded cabbage for a fun taco night.

5. Calamari fra diavolo

Sauté calamari in a spicy tomato sauce with garlic, red pepper flakes, and herbs over pasta.

Calamari is endlessly versatile – experiment with healthy preparations and enjoy its benefits during pregnancy.

Where to Buy Calamari

Wondering where to find high-quality calamari? Here are some of the best places to buy:

  • Fish markets or seafood counters at grocery stores
  • Specialty seafood stores or fishmongers
  • Farmers markets from reputable vendors
  • Online seafood retailers that ship fresh or frozen calamari

Seek out sellers with a reputation for fresh, sustainable seafood. Ask questions about their sources and handling practices.

With fresh calamari in hand, you’ll be ready to cook up some nutritious pregnancy meals.

Takeaways on Eating Calamari During Pregnancy

Here are the key takeaways on the safety and benefits of eating calamari while pregnant:

  • Properly cooked calamari is generally safe in pregnancy, even while pregnant.
  • Intake should be limited to 1-2 servings weekly to minimize mercury exposure.
  • Calamari provides protein, omega-3s, B vitamins, selenium, and other nutrients that support maternal and fetal health.
  • Select fresh, reputable sources and cook thoroughly to avoid any risks from bacteria or parasites.
  • Include calamari as part of a balanced diet with a variety of safe seafood choices during pregnancy.

With some basic precautions, pregnant women can safely reap the nutritional perks of calamari. It provides a healthy alternative to some higher mercury seafood options.

Check with your doctor about specific diet recommendations during pregnancy. But for most women, enjoying moderate amounts of properly handled and cooked calamari is perfectly safe and provides excellent nutrition.


Calamari is a nutritious seafood choice that can be part of eating well during pregnancy. It provides protein, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, selenium, and other nutrients that support you and your developing baby.

As long as food safety guidelines are followed, calamari is unlikely to pose health risks related to parasites, bacteria or mercury exposure. Limit intake to 1-2 servings per week, choose high-quality sources, and be sure calamari is thoroughly cooked through. With some basic precautions, pregnant women can safely enjoy calamari and reap its nutritional benefits. Check with your doctor, but for most, moderate calamari consumption can be perfectly healthy during pregnancy.

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