There seem to be so many rules when it comes to diet during pregnancy. There are are many “don’ts” as well as “you musts” when it comes to foods that promote the baby’s and mother’s health. One of the trickiest areas for pregnant moms is the issue of fish consumption. On one hand, moms are told to get a healthy dose of fish for the omega-3s and other nutrients. Yet, on the other hand, moms are told to watch out for too much fish as the mercury levels could be dangerous to the baby. So, what’s a mom to do? Thankfully, there are some answers.
According to the Mayo Clinic, fish and seafood are touted as a great source of protein, iron, and omega-3s. All of these nutrients are important in development of the baby, specifically brain development. However, regular consumption of fish high in mercury can lead to a build up in the bloodstream which can eventually damage a growing baby’s brain and nervous system.
To handle this conundrum the FDA released guidelines for pregnant mothers regarding the mercury levels in fish. The guidelines state that no more than 12 oz. of low mercury fish should be consumed on a weekly basis. Fish in the “highest” mercury level category should be avoided completely and those that fall in the “high” category should be kept to three 6-oz servings per month.
The Mayo Clinic noted that while many other plant based foods have the essential omega-3s, research has not shown that these sources promote fetal brain development like fish consumption.
According to a mercury article on the American Pregnancy Association website, there are four types of fish that should never be consumed during pregnancy – shark, king mackerel, swordfish, and tilefish. Outside of these, the Natural Resource Defense Council’s (NRDC) list of fish and their mercury levels can help pregnant mothers navigate the tricky world of how to eat properly while pregnant.
graphic via charitysub.org
Tuna (bigeye, Ahi)
Maximum of three 6-oz servings per month
Sea Bass (Chilean)
Mackeral ( Spanish, Gulf)
Tuna (canned, white albacore, Yellowfin) – Try this Healthier Tuna Salad
Maximum of six 6-oz servings per month
Bass (Striped, Black)
Croaker (White Pacific)
Halibut (Pacific and Atlantic) – Try these Easy Grilled Fish Tacos
Tuna (canned, chunk light, Skipjack)
Maximum of two 6-oz servings per week
Crab (Domestic) – Try this Crab Quiche
Mackeral (North Atlantic, Chub)
Salmon (Canned, Fresh) – Try this Salmon Burger