No more drinking wine, no more smoking, no more taking long hours in a hot tub or a sauna, and no more mugs after mugs of coffee – these are just some of the things you’d have to give up ever since you learned new life is growing inside of you. It sucks, but this is your life now, and 9 months? Time will go by so fast, you’ll be glad to be doing all of those things again.
But, of course, the list of not-to-dos does not stop there. If those things are not enough sacrifices, we can add to the list the fact that you can no longer eat raw fish a.k.a. sushi.
Yes, sushi. Cue slo-mo product shots of your favourite sushi, meticulously lined with freshly cooked rice, balanced with the varying flavours of seafood and vegetables, wrapped with the crunchiest nori, and dipped into a majestic sauce. Our mouths water just at the thought of this famous Japanese delicacy.
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Alas, since you are pregnant and have to be conscious of what you put into your body, sushi – especially ones cooked with raw fish – may be one of the many things you need to avoid during your pregnancy. So for 9 months, you cannot stuff your face with this all-time favourite. Or can you?
Some studies have come up that say you don’t need to take sushi out of your diet completely. How is that so? Keep reading!
Sushi You Cannot Eat
So, you can eat sushi. But, what’s the caveat? Can one really eat sushi while pregnant? The simple answer is yes and no.
For as long as the sushi you are eating does not have raw or undercooked seafood or the sushi you are eating has low-mercury levels, you can go ahead and shove that entire sushi into your mouth.
Why are pregnant women not allowed to eat raw or undercooked seafood? Raw or uncooked seafood can contain mercury, bacteria, and other harmful parasites that can cause pregnant women infection. The following are the possible risks should you proceed with that huge bite of that sashimi:
- Should you risk getting infected, you also increase the risk of miscarriage, uterine infection, preterm delivery, and even stillbirth.
- Listeriosis is a type of food poisoning that results from consuming bacteria called Listeria. And, where else can one get Listeria? Yes, sushi. Babies born with listeriosis could end up having issues with their kidneys, heart, blood, or brain.
- Exposing your unborn child to mercury can affect their nervous system. It can go as far as causing brain damage and hearing or vision problems. Fish that have high levels of mercury are:
- king mackerel
- orange roughy
- bigeye tuna
So, avoid sushi from the first through the third trimester of your pregnancy. Experts say even before getting pregnant or trying to get pregnant with your partner, you should avoid raw or uncooked seafood. That’s how serious it could be.
If in case you went on a sushi purge right before you found out you were pregnant, don’t worry. You’ll be fine. Just give your OB a call, and let them advise you on how to proceed with your diet.
So, no matter how delicious that gorgeous sushi looks, for the sake of your baby, look away, and just fill your thoughts with the idea that you can get back to eating sushi when your precious baby comes out of you.
Sushi You Can Eat
Image Source: Freepik
Raw or uncooked seafood is off-limits. But, if your sushi is made up of seafood that is thoroughly cooked, you are safe. If you really cannot stay away from raw fish (but for your baby’s sake, please try), make sure to choose only low-mercury fish such as salmon or catfish.
Fun fact: Pregnant Japanese women still eat sushi. But, they eat only low-mercury fish. They even encourage other pregnant women to eat low-mercury fish in sushi because it can help in maintaining a healthy, low-fat diet.
There are rolls and sushi that are made with thoroughly cooked ingredients, so those are safe to eat during pregnancy. Specifically, the safe ones to eat are:
- California roll
- unagi roll (cooked eel)
- ebi roll (shrimp)
- chicken katsu roll
- spicy crab roll
- spicy chicken sushi roll
- spicy shrimp roll
- Akagai (ark shell)
- Anago (conger eel)
- Aoyagi (round clam)
- Awabi (abalone)
- Ayu (sweetfish)
- Ebi (shrimp)
- Hamaguri (clam)
- Hamo (pike conger; sea eel)
- Hatahata (sandfish)
- Himo (ark shell)
- Hokkigai (surf clam)
- Hotategai (scallop)
- Ika (squid)
- Ikura (salmon roe)
- Kaibashira (shellfish)
- Kani (crab)
- Karei (flatfish)
- Kohada (gizzard shad)
- Masago (smelt egg)
- Masu (trout)
- Mirugai (surf clam)
- Sake (salmon)
- Sayori (halfbeak)
- Shako (mantis shrimp)
- Tai (sea bream)
- Tairagai (razor-shell clam)
- Tako (octopus)
- Tobikko (flying fish egg)
- Torigai (cockle)
- Tsubugai (shellfish)
- Unagi (freshwater eel)
- Uni (sea urchin roe)
You can totally avoid raw or undercooked seafood by opting for veggie rolls instead, such as:
- cucumber maki roll
- cucumber avocado roll
- shiitake mushroom roll
- Vegan Futomaki roll
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Debunking Sushi and Pregnancy Myths
We now know the difference between eating safe sushi and unsafe sushi. But, another similarly dangerous matter is the spreading of false information surrounding sushi and pregnancy. Let’s debunk a few of them:
1. Eating raw fish from reputable establishments is safe
Your favourite sushi restaurant may be incredibly high-end and may be professional in handling their raw fish, but there is no guarantee
that what they’ll serve you is safe to eat. So, to be safe, either stick to sushi with cooked ingredients or veggie rolls.
2. Bacteria in raw meat or seafood may be eliminated by cooking and freezing them
Yes, it’s true. Cooking can eliminate bacteria. Freezing however only eliminates mature parasitic worms. So, it’s not enough to freeze your raw meat and seafood. You ought to thoroughly cook them as well.
3. Eating non-mollusks is not safe because they are eaten raw
The reason why eating raw non-mollusks is unsafe is not because it’s raw. It’s because it’s most likely contaminated with bacteria from another source.
4. “Since eating high-mercury fish is unsafe, I won’t eat any more fish until my baby is born.”
This kind of thinking is precisely why we have to settle on whether eating sushi is safe or not. It is because people panic and jump to conclusions. Ordinarily, jumping to conclusions won’t harm anyone, but in this case, if you choose to stop eating fish during your pregnancy, you deprive your baby of the nutrients
that one can get from eating thoroughly cooked fish.
For instance, fish oil is beneficial in developing your baby’s nervous system. Seafood, in fact, is packed with protein, zinc, and iron, which are crucial for your baby’s growth and development. You can also thank the omega-3 fatty acids in fish for helping in promoting your baby’s brain development. So, don’t say goodbye to all fish – just ones that are raw and undercooked and are high in mercury.
We come to an end and finally have a clear answer to whether eating sushi while pregnant is safe. The main takeaway from this guide is to choose which seafood to eat, properly handle your meat and seafood before cooking them, and of course, cook them thoroughly. And with that, carry on with your sushi cravings (with extra care)!
Image Source: iStock
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.