Q&A: Is any type of sushi safe while pregnant?
I used to eat sushi all the time! Is any type of sushi safe for me to eat while I'm pregnant?
The issues with sushi have to do with both the safety of uncooked fish and the fact that some fish are high in mercury. Keep in mind, though, that fish is actually really good for you and your developing baby, and you should seek out ways to get safe fish into your diet.
Here’s my best assessment of the sushi dilemma:
1. Fish contain fatty acids that are particularly good for the developing fetus and can be hard to get from other food sources.
2. Raw fish pose a potential risk of infection, but sushi sold in restaurants has been flash frozen to kill parasites. If you are worried, eat sushi made from low mercury fully cooked fish. And if you are going to eat uncooked fish in pregnancy, only get it from a commercial source, made by a trained sushi chef. This is not a time to try someone’s homemade raw specialty.
3. Larger fish that eat lots of small fish concentrate organic mercury in their bodies. Swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and shark are highest in mercury and should be totally avoided in pregnancy. Albacore tuna is mid-range and should be limited.
4. Crustaceans, catfish, any tiny fish like anchovies or smelts, mollusks like clams and scallops, and Atlantic and Pacific mackerel are lowest in mercury. All of these are generally fine to eat.
5. For a bigger list of good fish to eat in pregnancy go to the FDA website or get the smartphone app “Seafood Watch,” which also takes ecological impact into account.
If you want to be most cautious, you won’t go wrong eating sushi made from cooked (low-mercury) fish and vegetables.