Fish During Pregnancy: The Good, The Bad, and The Delicious

Are you confused about which fish you should and shouldn’t eat while pregnant?

Salmon

It can be a scary thought that eating the wrong type of fish can expose your unborn child to dangerous levels of mercury which can affect their development in the womb and throughout their childhood. It may be tempting to avoid fish all together during pregnancy, but fish is one of your main sources of the very important Omega 3 fatty acids DHA & EPA.

DHA & EPA are fundamental to the development of your child’s sight, and nervous system including brain development. In fact, the children of mom’s who consume adequate amounts of EPA & DHA during pregnancy and breastfeeding are shown to have higher IQs, and less behavioural issues in childhood.

So if avoiding fish isn’t the best option, which fish are safe to eat?  Well, here’s the good, the bad, and the delicious, on safe seafood during pregnancy:
The Good

Here is a list of fish which have no mercury, but also have adequate amount of EPA & DHA:

Anchovies
Herring (very high EPA/DHA)
Mussels
Salmon (very high EPA/DHA)
Sardines
Shad
Trout (High EPA/DHA)

Whitefish (High EPA/DHA)

If you consume one serving of the above fish which are High and Very High in EPA/DHA every 2 days throughout your pregnancy and while breastfeeding, you’ll be consuming adequate amounts of EPA & DHA.  If you’re not all that in to fish, you can find supplements in the health food store in liquid or capsule form to top up your EPA & DHA requirements. You should consume at least 1000mg EPA& DHA every day. While breastfeeding, your milk will contain about 200mg of EPA/DHA per 3.5 oz.

And here’s a list of fish which have low mercury, but low amounts of EPA & DHA. These are safe to consume but don’t make them a mainstay of your pregnancy diet:

Catfish
Clams
Cod
Crab
Oysters (must be cooked)
Pollock
Scallops
Shrimp
Tilapia

 

The Bad

Large predatory fish.
They eat smaller fish with little amounts of mercury, and it bio-accumulates (builds-up) in their flesh so that by the time we consume these fish, the concentrations of mercury is beyond the safe levels for pregnancy. Now, I have an issue to the statement ‘safe levels’ because truthfully there is no ‘safe level’ of mercury for a human, it simply does only damage when consumed. So avoid the following types of fish all together if possible, and if not, consume them only very very rarely.

Canned Tuna
Tuna Steaks
Halibut
King Mackerel
Spanish and Atlantic Mackerel
Orange Roughy
Seabass
Shark
Swordfish
Tilefish

We also need to talk about raw fish under the bad. I’ll bet you started hearing all kinds of annoying comments about saying goodbye to sushi when you become pregnant. Well, it bares repeating just in case, raw fish is a no-go while pregnant. And in fact, I recommend to my clients that they stay away from raw fish all the time. This is because there are parasites and their little eggs, that can survive in raw fish. And these little nasties are only killed if the fish temperature has been lowered to -35oC for 15 hours. However, unfortunately it’s impossible to know if the fish you are being served at a restaurant has reached this temperature. So better safe than sorry my friends!!   Also, stay away from raw smoked fish as well, especially while pregnant, because you can’t be sure that it has been pre-frozen.

 

The Delicious


Here is a tasty recipe for Tahini Dill Trout or Salmon.

This recipe not only has a good amount of EPA & DHA, but lots of calcium from the tahini!

Tahini Dill Dressing for Trout or Salmon

¼ cup                     Water + 2-3 tbsp water if needed for blending
¼ cup                     Tahini
2 Tbsp                    Olive Oil
½   Tsp                   Honey
½ clove                  Garlic, minced
½  Tbsp                  Soy sauce, tamari or Braggs
1 Lemon                 Juiced
½ Lemon               Zested
½ bunch                Dill, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste

  • Blend together all ingredients except dill. Once well combined add dill and blend for a few more seconds, this will prevent your sauce from turning green. If you find you need a bit more liquid to blend just add in a few more tablespoons at a time, this sauce can go too watery really fast if you’re not careful : )
  • Generously coat your fish with the sauce, and bake at 425oF for 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 70oF (158oC)

TIP: This dressing can be added to the fish before or after you bake it. If you add it before, the freshness of the dill is subdued, and the richness of the tahini is more apparent. If you add it after the fish is cooked and just before serving, the freshness of the dill and lemon really shines through. Give both ways a try and see which you prefer : )

BONUS! Getting adequate amounts of EPA & DHA helps to prevent ‘mommy brain’!

 

 

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