Pregnant foodies, listen up! I know you may be wondering if you can still enjoy your favorite sushi rolls during pregnancy. The answer isn’t black and white. While you do need to be more mindful of what goes into your sushi when expecting, you don’t have to give it up completely.
The key is choosing sushi made with cooked ingredients. Veggie rolls, shrimp tempura rolls, and rolls made with cooked fish are all pregnancy-safe picks. Just steer clear of raw fish, which can contain bacteria and high mercury levels that are risky for you and baby.
Stick to sushi from restaurants with impeccable food safety practices, and make sure you’re not eating any sushi that’s been sitting out too long. It’s also wise to limit your overall fish intake to 2-3 servings per week when pregnant.
In a nutshell, you can definitely still enjoy sushi during pregnancy. You just need to be selective about the ingredients and source. Now let’s dig into all the details to help you make the best choices!
Sushi With Cooked Ingredients Is A-OK
The key to pregnancy-safe sushi is choosing rolls made with cooked seafood or vegetables. Here are some excellent options:
- Veggie rolls – Avocado, cucumber, carrot, and other veggie rolls are perfectly safe and make for feel-good sushi.
- Shrimp tempura rolls – Crispy, cooked shrimp is a tasty lower-mercury choice.
- Rolls with cooked fish – Opt for rolls made with cooked salmon, crab, or other fish.
As long as the sushi contains only cooked ingredients and no raw fish, you’re good to go. Just be sure it was prepared with safe food handling practices.
Steer Clear of Raw Fish When Expecting
Here’s where most of the sushi precautions come in. Raw fish is off the table when you’re expecting a little one.
Raw fish, especially soft cheeses and meat that is not fully cooked, can contain:
- Bacteria – Salmonella, Listeria, and other bugs can lead to foodborne illness.
- Parasites – Raw fish can harbor parasitic worms and other nasty critters.
- High mercury – Large fish like tuna are high in mercury, which is toxic to fetal development.
Food poisoning, parasite infection, and mercury exposure can all cause serious pregnancy complications. So raw fish sushi is best avoided.
Safer Fish Options
You don’t have to avoid fish entirely while pregnant. The FDA recommends 2-3 servings of low mercury fish per week. Great choices include:
Just be sure to cook the fish to an internal temperature of 145°F first.
Choose High-Quality Sushi from Reputable Sources
To minimize the risks when eating sushi while pregnant:
- Opt for top-rated sushi restaurants with strict food safety practices. Avoid questionable spots with poor hygiene.
- Only order sushi made with the freshest fish and ingredients. Old, spoiled seafood ups your risk.
- Avoid pre-made takeout sushi. The longer sushi sits, the more bacteria can grow.
- Prevent cross-contamination. Be sure sushi chefs use separate cutting boards and knives for raw and cooked seafood.
Taking these precautions reduces the chances of foodborne illness.
Limit Total Fish Intake
To limit your mercury exposure when pregnant, follow these guidelines:
- Eat no more than 2-3 servings of low-mercury fish per week. This includes salmon, shrimp, catfish, cod, etc.
- Avoid high-mercury fish like tuna, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel. These tend to be large, predatory fish.
- Check local fish advisories for contaminated waterways. Avoid fish caught from those areas.
- When eating out, ask how the fish was caught or raised. Opt for sustainable fisheries over contaminated waters.
- Mix up your protein sources, like beans, chicken, eggs, and lean meat. Don’t eat seafood every day.
Frequently Asked Questions About Eating Sushi While Pregnant
What are the main risks of eating raw fish during pregnancy?
Eating raw fish when pregnant poses a few risks. Raw fish can contain parasites, bacteria, viruses and high mercury levels – all of which can be harmful during pregnancy. Parasites like tapeworm can be killed by freeze-drying raw fish. But bacteria, viruses and mercury are not as easy to get rid of. These can cause food poisoning, infections and developmental issues. So it’s safest to avoid raw fish altogether.
Are vegetable rolls and cooked rolls 100% safe to eat?
Vegetable rolls and rolls made with cooked fish or shrimp are safe to eat when pregnant. The cooking process kills any parasites, viruses or bacteria that may be present. Just be sure the sushi is fresh and prepared in a clean environment to prevent any contamination after cooking. Avoid sushi that has been sitting out for more than 2 hours.
How much sushi is safe to eat per week?
When pregnant, it’s recommended to limit sushi with cooked fish and shellfish to no more than 2-3 servings per week. This limits your exposure to any traces of mercury that may still be present after cooking. Include a variety of mercury-safe seafood like salmon, tilapia, shrimp and scallops.
Can I get sushi from my grocery store or as takeout?
It’s best to only eat sushi from highly-rated sushi restaurants with trained sushi chefs and strict safety practices. Grocery store or takeout sushi is more prone to bacterial growth, especially if it sits for too long at improper temperatures. Check the packaging for sell-by dates and only consume sushi within 2 hours of purchase.
Are poke bowls safe to eat when pregnant?
Traditional poke contains raw fish, so it should be avoided during pregnancy. You can however request poke bowls made with cooked ingredients like shrimp, tofu, chicken or vegetables. This eliminates the risk of parasites or mercury exposure. Just be sure to consume any cooked ingredients immediately after preparing, before bacteria has time to multiply.
The Takeaway: Enjoy Sushi Safely During Pregnancy
The bottom line? You can absolutely still enjoy sushi while pregnant! Just take these precautions:
- Stick to sushi with cooked ingredients like shrimp, veggies, and cooked fish.
- Avoid any sushi with raw fish due to bacteria and mercury risks.
- Choose high-quality sushi made fresh under safe conditions.
- Limit total fish intake to 2-3 low-mercury servings per week.
Being mindful about the ingredients and mercury content allows you to savor sushi safely. With so many pregnancy restrictions, it’s nice to know this favorite food doesn’t have to be off the table completely. Just make sure to choose cooked rolls from trusted restaurants. Then sit back and enjoy your sushi – you and baby will both be happy!