Can You Eat Sushi While Pregnant? How to Pick Safe Sushi Rolls

can pregnant women eat sushi

After seeing two cute lines, you’re not the only one who read about what you have to give up now that you’re pregnant. It’s pretty clear what to avoid, but there are some foods that you might think are healthy but are actually dangerous for you and your baby’s health.

Add that tasty, spicy tuna roll to your list of foods to avoid. So, you won’t want to eat sushi, at least the kind with raw fish, until after giving birth. You can also wait to drink your favorite glass of wine, eat turkey sandwiches, take long soaks in the hot tub, and scoop kitty litter (yes, you can hire someone to do this!).

But don’t cancel your dinner plans or throw away those tasty and healthy California rolls just yet. There is some good news: you can still eat some sushi.

What kind of sushi can’t you eat?

Not all sushi is safe to eat. Avoid sushi made from high-mercury fish, such as tuna and king mackerel, as mercury can cause serious health issues. Raw shellfish, such as clams and oysters, can harbor harmful bacteria and viruses. Certain raw fish, like pufferfish (fugu) and escolar, are also risky due to toxins and digestive issues. Pregnant women should be cautious with raw fish and opt for cooked or vegetarian sushi options. Always choose fresh, well-handled sushi from reputable sources to minimize health risks.

Why you should avoid raw fish sushi

In fact, you shouldn’t eat raw fish, even if you’re trying to get pregnant. The rule that sushi shouldn’t have raw or undercooked fish applies to all three trimesters.

A lot of important changes happen in the first three months of pregnancy, so it’s important to stop as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. The brain and spinal cord start to form in weeks 1 through 8. At this point, the heart cells also start to beat, and the eyes, ears, and nose begin to form.

By the end of the first trimester, all of your baby’s important organs will have grown and started to work. Toxic chemicals are most likely to hurt or damage the fetus during these first 12 weeks.

Pregnancy leads to a decrease in your immunity as you share it with a developing baby. people with weak immune systems are more likely to get bugs or parasites from eating raw or badly handled fish.

Do not eat raw or undercooked sushi, though, if you just found out you are pregnant. Take a big breath. Everything will be fine. To calm your doctor’s fears, tell them that you’ve had sushi with raw fish. They can answer any questions you have and help you choose foods that are safer for you to eat while you’re pregnant.

Why shouldn’t you eat sushi with raw fish?

It’s clear that sushi rolls with raw fish or meat are not a good idea while you’re pregnant. You may be wondering why one of your favorite foods didn’t make the list.

Eating fish that isn’t fully cooked or is still raw can make you more likely to get some types of bacteria while you’re pregnant and is more likely to contain bacteria and parasites.

Bacteria causes a type of food poisoning known as listeria. It can have severe consequences for both your health and the health of your unborn child. Also, women who are pregnant are more likely to get listeriosis.

It can also lead to sickness and diarrhea, as well as early labor, stillbirth, and miscarriage. Listeria can also cause kidney and heart problems in babies who are born with it. It can also cause infections in the blood or brain.

Pregnant women should avoid foods like hot dogs, lunch meats, and unsterilized milk to prevent listeriosis, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Also, eating raw fish can make your baby more exposed to mercury. Exposure to high levels of mercury, a metal, during pregnancy jeopardizes the health of both the pregnant woman and her unborn child. Valle says that babies can get brain damage, hearing loss, and eye problems from mercury that is too high.

If you buy fish from a reputable restaurant with trained cooks who handle the fish the right way, Godfrey says they can’t promise that the raw fish is safe to eat.

To sum up, there are two main reasons why pregnant women shouldn’t eat raw fish sushi:

  • All raw meat, fish, and milk contain germs and parasites that your body isn’t as strong against.
  • Many types of fish contain high levels of mercury; you can read more about this below.

Rolls you can eat while pregnant

Do you remember that we told you there was good news? Okay, here it is: You can eat sushi rolls while you’re pregnant. “Pregnant women can eat cooked sushi with seafood and vegetable rolls without getting sick,” says Valle.

In fact, the ACOG says that pregnant women should eat at least two meals of low-mercury fish each week. Salmon, catfish, and other fatty fish, as well as omega-3-rich shellfish, should be included.

To protect yourself and your baby from mercury and listeria, be sure to cook the salmon roll before eating it.

When pregnant women choose a roll with cooked seafood, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says they should stay away from these high-mercury fish.

  • Red snapper
  • King mackerel
  • Marlin
  • Orange roughy shark
  • Bigeye tuna
  • Tilefish

Mercury-rich fish typically have more than 0.3 parts per million.

However, the California roll, one of the most well-known types of sushi, frequently uses fake crab meat. Pregnant women can typically safely consume this type of crab meat due to its preparation and use of fish with lower mercury levels.

Before you order a sushi roll with fish, make sure you know what’s in it. You might think you’re only getting shrimp or crab meat, but there may also be mercury-rich fish in there.

Popular types of rolls that you might find on a menu include

  • California roll
  • ebi roll (shrimp)
  • unagi roll (cooked eel)
  • spicy chicken sushi roll,
  • spicy crab roll,
  • spicy shrimp roll

On a plate, you might see the following vegan rolls:

  • Roll with cucumber.
  • Avocado and cucumber roll
  • Roll with shiitake mushrooms
  • When vegan, a futomaki roll

The bottom line

You should be extra careful about what you eat while you are pregnant. You and your growing baby can stay safe if you know what’s in the food you eat.

Talk to your doctor or a trained dietician if you’re not sure what you should and shouldn’t eat for the next 9 months. They can help you make a healthy and enjoyable meal plan.

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