Is shrimp safe during pregnancy?
Most women assume that all seafood is off the table during pregnancy. Concerns about mercury and food poisoning may have you kissing your sushi, salmon and shrimp good-bye. But do you really need to keep shrimp off the menu? Is it safe to eat shrimp during pregnancy? What are the risks, and are there any benefits to eating shrimp during pregnancy? Here is what you need to know.
Shrimp and Pregnancy
You’ve probably heard that raw fish is too dangerous to eat during pregnancy, and some types of cooked seafood is off limits, too. Does that mean that all seafood should be avoided when you’re pregnant? Not necessarily.
Shrimp is a popular seafood, and many women crave it during pregnancy. Can you give into those cravings and indulge in a little shrimp cocktail or surf and turf? The answer may surprise you.
Is Shrimp Safe During Pregnancy?
Yes! Shrimp is safe to eat during pregnancy, although you probably shouldn’t overdo it. The biggest issue with eating seafood during pregnancy is mercury. Some fish are higher in mercury than others.
Fortunately, shrimp is a low-mercury seafood. Other types of seafood that fall into this category are:
Related: CAN YOU EAT LOBSTER WHILE PREGNANT
Risks Of Eating Shrimp During Pregnancy
While shrimp is generally safe for pregnancy, there are some risks that you need to consider.
Eating raw or undercooked shrimp increases the risk of foodborne illness, which can be dangerous for the baby and unpleasant for you.
As a general rule of thumb, you want to avoid all raw seafood because the risk of illness is too high.
If you’re eating out at a restaurant, make sure that the shrimp you’re ordering is fully cooked. If you aren’t sure, ask your waiter. If you’re preparing your shrimp at home, cook it until its internal temperature reaches 145 Fahrenheit.
The Shrimp Came from Polluted Waters
When eating shrimp, it pays to be a stickler about where your food is coming from. If the shrimp came from polluted waters or dirty farms, there could be risks for you and your baby.
One 2015 study from Consumer Reports found that 205 samples of imported shrimp contained antibiotic residues, some of which have been linked to cancer.
Eating Too Much Shrimp
The reason doctors advise against eating too much shrimp (or any type of seafood) during pregnancy is because of mercury. Yes, shrimp is low in mercury, but if you eat enough it, mercury will eventually build up and cause problems.
Mercury can have negative effects on your unborn child. It can affect your baby’s brain development and nervous system.
Mercury is a very real concern for pregnant women, so it’s important to make sure that you’re keeping your seafood intake to just one to two servings per week. This will allow you to enjoy the benefits of shrimp (or other safe seafood) without putting your baby at risk.
Is Shrimp Good for Pregnancy?
Shrimp can be good for pregnancy. However, it’s important to make sure that you’re consuming shrimp from a reputable source and that it’s been thoroughly cooked.
When eaten in moderation and prepared properly, shrimp is an excellent addition to your diet during pregnancy. In fact, shrimp can offer many benefits.
Benefits Of Eating Shrimp While Pregnant
Shrimp is actually one of the safest seafoods for women to eat during pregnancy. In addition to tasting great, shrimp has many benefits for pregnant women.
High in Protein and Other Nutrients
Shrimp is high in protein, which is an important part of a pregnant woman’s diet. It also contains other vital nutrients, like:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B2
Iron is especially important during pregnancy. It helps ensure that your body is making enough blood for your baby. Making sure that you have enough iron can help fight fatigue and reduce the risk of iron deficiency anemia.
If you want to maintain a healthy pregnancy, make sure to read this article about best prenatal vitamins to take during pregnancy.
Rich in Astaxanthin
Shrimp is also a great source of an antioxidant called astaxanthin, which helps fight against free radicals and prevent inflammation. This antioxidant has been widely studied for its role in reducing the risk of chronic disease.
Great Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Seafood in general is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, and this important nutrient is beneficial during pregnancy.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help:
- Reduce the risk of preterm birth.
- Lower risk of low birth weight.
- Ensure healthy brain and eye development in babies.
How Much Shrimp Is Safe During Pregnancy?
Just because shrimp is safe to eat during pregnancy, that doesn’t mean that you should overindulge.
Limit your shrimp intake to 12 ounces per week. That’s about two to three servings per week.
Make sure that you’re eating cooked shrimp. Raw shrimp is not safe to eat during pregnancy.
Safety Precautions When Eating Shrimp During Pregnancy
If you want to eat shrimp during your pregnancy, there are a few precautionary steps you want to take. Even though shrimp is one of the safest types of seafood for pregnant women to eat, you still need to be careful.
Here are the most important safety precautions:
- Always make sure that the shrimp is fully cooked. If you’re not cooking it yourself, ask how the shrimp is prepared before ordering.
- Make sure that the shrimp comes from unpolluted waters or a source with no alerts for high mercury.
- Check to make sure that the species is safe to eat. Some species of shrimp are unsafe to eat during pregnancy.
It’s best to prepare your shrimp at home because you know it will be clean and cooked thoroughly. You don’t have control over how a restaurant prepares their shrimp. Unless you know the restaurant well and know that they are using safe practices, it’s best not to take the risk and save shrimp for at-home meals.
What If I Accidentally Ate Raw Shrimp While Pregnant?
If you accidentally ate raw shrimp (it happens), you may be worried that you’ve done something to hurt your baby.
The answer really depends on how much raw shrimp you ate. If it was only one or two pieces of shrimp, you will likely be okay.
Because you want to be extra cautious about eating seafood during your pregnancy, call your doctor and discuss the situation. Be sure to tell your physician:
- How much raw shrimp you ate
- Where you got the shrimp from (grocery store, restaurant, etc.)
- Any symptoms (if any) that you’re experiencing
Keep a close eye on how you feel, and don’t hesitate to call your doctor if you’re feeling sick. The biggest concern with food poisoning is dehydration. Your doctor may recommend having some Pedialyte on hand to stay hydrated if you do get sick.
While eating raw shrimp is a concern, try not to panic. Eating raw shrimp once, by accident, during your pregnancy will likely not cause any long-term issues, but talk to your doctor just to be safe. Your doctor will tell you what to lookout for and what to do if you start feeling sick.
Can I Eat Shrimp Cocktail While Pregnant?
Shrimp cocktail is a popular appetizer and a delicious way to enjoy shrimp. Many pregnant women crave this dish, and because the shrimp is fully cooked, it’s safe for pregnant women to eat. So, feel free to give into your cravings and enjoy (as long as you’re not over your weekly limit for seafood).
Just make sure that the shrimp has been cooked thoroughly (reached a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit) before chilling it.
Cocktail sauce is also safe to consume during pregnancy.
Dried Shrimp During Pregnancy
You know that it’s safe to consume shrimp during pregnancy – as long as it’s cooked. But what about dried shrimp?
Dried shrimp is a popular ingredient in Asian, Cajun and other types of dishes.
As long as the shrimp is thoroughly cooked, it should be fine to eat dried shrimp during pregnancy. Just make sure that you’re not going over your weekly limit for seafood. It’s easy to go overboard because dried shrimp is smaller.
Boiled Shrimp During Pregnancy
There are many ways to prepare and enjoy shrimp. Boiling is one popular method. You may be wondering whether it’s safe to eat boiled shrimp during your pregnancy.
As long as it’s thoroughly cooked, it’s fine to eat boiled shrimp. In fact, this is a quick and easy way to prepare shrimp. Boiling for just 2-3 minutes is all it takes to cook the shrimp thoroughly.
When boiling, the flesh of the shrimp should change from translucent when it’s raw to pink and opaque when it’s fully cooked. Just drain and enjoy!
The Bottom Line
Shrimp is safe to eat during pregnancy as long as you’re following these golden rules:
- It’s thoroughly cooked
- It comes from a safe source
- You don’t eat more than one to two servings per week (12 ounces total)
In addition to being rich in protein, shrimp also contains important vitamins and minerals as well as omega-3 fatty acids. So, go ahead and enjoy some shrimp during your pregnancy, especially if you’re craving it. Your body and your baby will thank you.