What sushi can I have while pregnant?

Pregnancy comes with a lot of dos and don’ts when it comes to food. Many pregnant women wonder if they can still enjoy sushi while expecting. The quick answer is yes, you can eat sushi while pregnant, but there are some important guidelines to follow. Sushi is not entirely off limits, but you do need to be selective about the fish and seafood you order. There are some types of sushi made with raw fish that should be avoided during pregnancy. However, there are also many delicious sushi options made with cooked seafood or vegetables that are safe to eat. Here’s a detailed look at the sushi dos and don’ts for pregnant women.

Why avoid certain types of sushi when pregnant?

The main concern with eating sushi during pregnancy is consuming raw seafood that could contain bacteria or parasites. Pregnant women are at higher risk for foodborne illnesses because of lowered immune systems. Food poisoning from bacteria like salmonella, listeria, and E. coli can be especially dangerous during pregnancy and lead to complications like dehydration, miscarriage, or preterm labor. Parasites like tapeworm can also be transmitted through consuming raw or undercooked fish.

Additionally, some fish contain high levels of mercury that can be harmful in pregnancy. Mercury is a heavy metal that gets absorbed by fish and builds up in the tissues over time as bigger fish eat smaller contaminated fish. Too much mercury exposure during pregnancy can impair brain and nervous system development in the baby.

That’s why it’s advised to avoid raw fish and limit certain high mercury fish when you’re expecting. Consuming cooked sushi and low mercury seafood can let you satisfy your sushi cravings safely during pregnancy!

Best sushi fish to eat when pregnant

While you need to be selective, you can still enjoy delicious sushi made with pregnancy-safe fish like:

Salmon

Salmon is one of the most popular sushi fish, and it gets the green light during pregnancy. Farmed salmon is rated best choice or good choice for pregnancy by consumer reports because it’s very low in mercury. Salmon is packed with beneficial omega-3s for brain development plus protein, vitamins, and minerals. Enjoy salmon rolls, nigiri, sashimi, and more, but make sure it’s cooked if you’re pregnant.

Tuna (in moderation)

Tuna is a common sushi fish, but limit your intake when expecting because of moderate mercury levels. The FDA recommends no more than 2-3 servings a week of low mercury tuna like skipjack or canned light tuna. Avoid high mercury varieties like yellowfin and bigeye tuna. Go for tuna rolls made with lean, low mercury tuna no more than a couple times a month.

Shrimp

Cooked shrimp is totally pregnancy friendly. Opt for tempura shrimp rolls, shrimp nigiri, or shrimp sashimi when dining out. Shrimp packs a protein punch and contains beneficial omega-3s, selenium, and vitamin B12.

Eel (unagi)

BBQ eel rolls are a delicious sushi option in pregnancy since the eel is cooked. Make sure it’s fresh and order from a reputable restaurant. Eel is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B12, iron and potassium.

Crab

Real crab meat is considered safe to eat cooked during pregnancy. Crab supplies healthy protein, copper, zinc and selenium. Enjoy a California roll, crunchy tempura crab roll, or crab nigiri at your favorite sushi spot when expecting.

Smoked salmon

Smoked salmon offers a pregnancy-safe alternative to raw salmon. It’s cooked during the smoking process to eliminate any parasites or bacteria. A smoked salmon roll, smoked salmon nigiri, or smoked salmon sashimi provides vitamin D, omega-3s, protein and a tasty flavor.

Cooked octopus

Well-cooked octopus is low in mercury and safe for pregnancy as an occasional treat. Try tako nigiri or tako sashimi for a unique texture and healthful protein.

Vegetable sushi

Veggie rolls with cucumber, avocado, mango, asparagus, pickled daikon radish, carrot, spinach and more make excellent pregnancy sushi picks. They provide vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants and other key nutrients without mercury or bacteria concerns.

Types of sushi to avoid when pregnant

On the no-go list, avoid these higher risk sushi options when you’re expecting:

Raw tuna

While moderate amounts of cooked low mercury tuna are OK, raw tuna should be avoided because of parasites and mercury buildup. Say no to tuna tartare, sushi with raw tuna like tekka maki, or tuna sashimi when pregnant.

Other raw fish

It’s wise to avoid any sushi made with raw fish during pregnancy, apart from a few lower mercury ones like salmon and tuna. Pass on sushi containing raw yellowtail, mackerel, fluke, sea urchin, orange roughy, marlin or snapper which could harbor bacteria and parasites.

Raw shellfish

Raw clams, oysters, mussels and scallops are off the menu when pregnant. Only opt for these mollusks if they are thoroughly cooked to destroy potential parasites and pathogens.

Some rolls with roe

Sushi containing raw fish roe like tobiko (flying fish roe) and mentaiko (cod or pollock roe) should be avoided in pregnancy. However, rolls with cooked crab roe or cooked salmon roe are safer options.

High mercury fish

Higher mercury varieties like swordfish, king mackerel, shark, and tilefish should be limited when expecting. Stick to just 1 serving a month of these fish to avoid dangerous mercury exposure.

Raw sushi from questionable sources

Use caution when choosing where to eat raw sushi while pregnant. Only eat it from high-end, reputable sushi restaurants that are likely to follow best food safety practices for handling raw seafood. Grocery store packages of raw sushi are very high risk.

Tips for eating sushi safely during pregnancy

Here are some top tips for satisfying your sushi craving while shielding your health if you’re expecting:

– Opt for sushi containing cooked seafood like shrimp, eel, crab or smoked salmon. Cooked sushi is safest!

– Look for vegetarian sushi rolls loaded with veggie goodness.

– If eating raw fish, stick to salmon or tuna in moderation from a trusted restaurant.

– Avoid any raw shellfish or cooked high mercury fish like swordfish.

– Limit tuna to 2-3 times a month to lower mercury exposure.

– Always inspect sushi first and don’t eat anything that smells fishy or off.

– Ask at restaurants how specific sushi is prepared and cooked.

– Be cautious at lower end buffets or grocery stores with raw seafood.

– Practice good food safety like hand washing before and after eating.

– If in doubt, go vegetarian! Loads of veggie sushi options are perfectly pregnancy friendly.

Healthy pregnancy sushi recipes

You can also satisfy your sushi fix safely at home by making your own healthy cooked or veggie sushi rolls. Here are some yummy pregnancy-approved sushi recipes:

Baked Salmon Sushi Rolls

These flavorful rolls replace raw salmon with baked salmon for a pregnancy safe take on classic salmon rolls. Bake fresh wild salmon fillets at 400F until cooked through and flake into chunks. Add to sushi rice with nori, cucumber, avocado, carrots, daikon radish and spicy mayo or unagi sauce.

Spicy Tuna Crunch Rolls

For cooked spicy “tuna” rolls, a tasty protein swap is canned salmon or tuna. Mix with spicy mayo, chopped veggies and tempura crunchies. Much safer than raw tuna when expecting!

Shrimp Tempura Rolls

These are always a home run! Cooked tempura shrimp, avocado, cucumber, carrot and spicy mayo rolled up for crisp, flavorful bites.

California Rolls

A classic cuisine in! Fill nori and sushi rice with crunchy cucumber, creamy avocado, sweet mango, red pepper, daikon radish and cooked crab sticks.

Crunchy Califlower Rolls

Roast cauliflower florets until crispy then add to rolls with rice, nori, carrot, cucumber, mango and spicy vegan mayo for an all veggie delight.

Spicy Tofu Rolls

Baked or pan fried tofu makes a perfect plant-based filling. Combine with sushi rice, cucumber, chili sauce, green onion and toasted sesame seeds for protein packed vegan sushi.

Is sushi safe overall in pregnancy?

Overall, yes you can safely enjoy sushi while pregnant when you take the right precautions. While it’s wise to avoid raw fish, raw shellfish and some high mercury varieties, there are still plenty of delicious sushi options to choose from when you’re eating for two.

Cooked seafood sushi like shrimp, crab and eel offer safe ways to get beneficial omega-3s, protein, vitamins and minerals. Moderation is key even with low mercury fish, so limit higher risk items like tuna. Veggie sushi provides the perfect pregnancy friendly nutritional profile.

As long as you’re selective about ingredients, visit reputable restaurants, and practice good food safety, sushi can still be part of a healthy pregnancy diet. Talk to your doctor about any concerns over specific foods and don’t hesitate to ask restaurants detailed questions. With the right choices, you can still satisfy your sushi fix without compromising your health and your baby’s!

The bottom line

Craving your favorite sushi doesn’t have to be completely off limits when pregnant. By choosing fully cooked sushi, like tempura or grilled, or veggie rolls, you can enjoy delicious Japanese cuisine safely when expecting. Avoid raw fish and shellfish to steer clear of parasites and bacteria that could harm your pregnancy. But overall, yes you can have sushi in moderation if you select the right pregnancy safe options!

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