Craving sushi but worried about what’s safe to eat while pregnant? You’re not alone. Many expecting moms struggle to satisfy sushi cravings without putting their health at risk. The good news is you can enjoy sushi during pregnancy by following some simple guidelines.
While raw seafood is off the table, you can still enjoy the flavors of sushi by choosing vegetable rolls, cooked shrimp rolls, and other creative combinations. The rice, nori, and cooked ingredients used in these rolls are perfectly safe to eat. With so many fish-free sushi options, you don’t have to miss out.
Be cautious of sushi rolls containing raw or undercooked fish. Raw fish may contain bacteria and parasites harmful during pregnancy. Skip the tuna, salmon, and yellowtail sushi for now. Don’t worry – California rolls, shrimp tempura rolls, and avocado-cucumber rolls are just as delicious!
When indulging in sushi, opt for rolls made with sushi-grade fish. This high-quality seafood has been deep frozen to kill any risky bacteria and parasites. Cooked sushi rolls made from sushi-grade fish are a safer bet.
While being pregnant requires some adjustments to your sushi routine, you can still enjoy the bright flavors safely. Try new combinations featuring vegetables, fruits, tamago, and other cooked proteins. Your baby will benefit from the nutrients and omega-3s.
Now that you know what sushi is pregnancy-approved, head to your local sushi spot and get rolling! Let us know if you discover any creative new rolls.
Why Raw Fish is Risky During Pregnancy
Let’s start with why raw seafood is usually off the table for expecting mothers.
Raw fish, especially raw shellfish like oysters, may contain harmful bacteria and parasites like listeria, salmonella, and toxoplasmosis . These can be very dangerous during pregnancy and lead to serious complications like miscarriage, stillbirth, and birth defects.
In addition, large fish like tuna and swordfish contain high levels of mercury. Too much mercury can impair brain development in babies.
For these reasons, obstetricians recommend pregnant women avoid raw or undercooked seafood. This includes sushi rolls made with raw fish.
Cooked Fish and Seafood are Safer Bets
Now, what about cooked sushi or seafood?
The CDC states cooked fish is perfectly safe to eat during pregnancy. In fact, fish provides key nutrients like protein, omega-3s, vitamin B12, iron, and choline that benefit you and baby.
As long as the fish is thoroughly cooked, the dangerous parasites and bacteria are killed off. The FDA recommends cooking seafood to at least 145°F.
This means sushi rolls made with cooked seafood are A-OK to eat! Options like shrimp tempura rolls, crab rolls, and veggie rolls are all pregnancy-friendly.
Choose Sushi Grade Fish
When enjoying sushi made with cooked fish, opt for sushi or sashimi grade fish. This ensures high-quality.
Sushi grade seafood is exceptionally fresh and handled properly to prevent contamination. The fish is:
- Gutted and cleaned as soon as it’s caught
- Placed on ice immediately to preserve freshness
- Flash frozen to kill any parasites
- Thawed slowly and prepared under sanitary conditions
With this special handling, sushi grade seafood is safe to eat raw or cooked during pregnancy. Stick to rolls cooked with sushi grade fish to be extra cautious.
Sushi Rice and Vegetables are Safe
On to the extras beyond fish. What about sushi rice and veggie sides?
The rice in sushi is typically just short grain Japanese rice seasoned with rice vinegar. As long as it is cooked, rice is safe during pregnancy .
Likewise, cooked sushi accompaniments like edamame or miso soup pose no risks. And raw veggies provide healthy crunch.
You can enjoy these sushi basics without worry. Just avoid raw fish hidden in specialty rolls.
Cooked Sushi Roll Options Galore!
Now that you know what to avoid, let’s talk about the many delicious cooked sushi rolls you can safely savor during pregnancy:
These classic rolls are filled with avocado, cucumber, crabstick and/or imitation crab. The crab is cooked Surimi, making it pregnancy safe.
Shrimp Tempura Rolls
Crispy fried shrimp wrapped in nori and rice make a heavenly combo. The cooked tempura shrimp get a thumbs up.
Load up on fresh produce with cucumber, avocado, mango, bell pepper or asparagus rolls. Pick creative combo’s!
Tamago (Egg) Rolls
Sweet sheets of cooked egg omelette add protein. Other cooked items like smoked salmon, tuna, eel or octopus are also pregnancy approved.
Crab and Fish Roe Rolls
Real crab and fish roe (cooked) provide delightful pops of flavor.
Eel or Unagi Rolls
Grilled freshwater eel is perfectly fine since it is cooked at high heat. The savory taste pairs wonderfully with rice and sauce.
Inari or Tofu Pocket Rolls
Fried tofu skins wrapped around rice make a filling veggie roll.
Be Cautious if You Ate Raw Sushi Pre-Pregnancy
If you indulged in raw fish sushi before finding out you were pregnant, let your doctor know.
Though the time-frame when sushi could affect development is early on, it doesn’t hurt to mention it. Your doctor may test for parasites as a precaution.
How to Enjoy Pregnancy-Safe Sushi
Follow these tips when satisfying sushi cravings during pregnancy:
- Stick to sushi containing cooked or vegetarian ingredients only. Avoid any raw fish.
- Opt for sushi-grade seafood which is ultra-fresh and handled properly. Ensure cooked fish reaches safe temperatures.
- If a roll seems questionable, ask your server about ingredients. It’s better to be safe and skip rolls that seem risky.
- Buy pre-packaged rolls from a trusted grocery store or make your own pregnancy-friendly sushi at home. Then you can control ingredients.
- Bring a non-pregnant sushi-loving friend to enjoy raw fish rolls you have to skip for now. Live vicariously through them!
- Tell your sushi chef you are pregnant and can only eat cooked fish. They will steer you toward the best pregnancy-safe options.
Satisfy Your Pregnancy Sushi Cravings Guilt-Free
Being pregnant doesn’t mean completely giving up sushi for 9+ months. You have plenty of delicious cooked or vegetarian sushi rolls to choose from.
Follow the safety guidelines and enjoy sushi without worry, knowing you are making the healthiest choices for your baby. That California roll will taste even better now!
Let me know if you have any other pregnancy nutrition questions. I’m happy to help any expecting moms keep cravings and peace of mind.