Pregnant women have a lot on their mind when it comes to their baby’s health. Nutrition is near the top of the list, along with what foods to avoid. Most women have been told to avoid seafood while pregnant or breastfeeding because of mercury. However, as research has advanced, this advice has changed.
The FDA recommends that the average American should eat an average of 8 to 12 ounces of fish per week. Thanks to recent studies, where pregnant women were once encouraged to avoid fish, they are now encouraged to eat 2-3 servings per week. The important thing is knowing which fish to eat.
Benefits of Fish to Babies
When you become pregnant, your need for nutrients increases as you’re fueling not only your own body but growing another inside of you. Several of the nutrients that will best help your baby’s development are most abundant in fish. The most notable three are selenium, iodine, and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. These nutrients, along with others, are vital to the baby developing healthy eyes, brain, and organs.
Even after the baby is born, if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll want to continue eating 2-3 servings of fish. Not only for your own health, but because the nutrients will be passed on to your baby through your breast milk.
Mercury is a metal that occurs naturally in the environment, with the amount found in fish increasing due to industrial pollution. While a fully-grown adult is unlikely to be affected by the trace amounts found in fish, babies exposed in the womb or who drink breast milk are more susceptible. That’s why it’s important to be careful when selecting which fish to eat while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Which Fish to Eat
So now that you know that you can eat fish, you’re eager to tuck into a seafood dinner. But wait. You shouldn’t eat just any fish. Certain fish are better than others, both in terms of being high in nutrients and low in mercury levels.
The FDA has made a comprehensive chart of the best fish to eat while pregnant, which fish are good, and which should be avoided. You can rest easy knowing that all of our products feature fish that the FDA has put in the “Best” category. Salmon, pollock, haddock, and tilapia are all fish high in fatty acids and low in mercury.
Fish to Avoid
So the question becomes which fish should a pregnant woman not eat? Thankfully the list is short, but the mercury levels are high. If you should become pregnant or are breastfeeding, you need to avoid shark, swordfish, bigeye tuna, king mackerel, marlin, tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, and orange roughy.
A single serving of one of these fish while pregnant or breastfeeding is unlikely to pose a risk. However, it is best to be avoided when ordering dinner.
Remember that when you choose to eat a healthy, seafood-rich diet, you’re benefiting both yourself and your child. Even after your baby is eating solid foods, it’s good to keep serving fish to promote healthy eating habits and development.