Pregnancy Health

Can Pregnant Women Eat Shrimp? Understanding The Facts!

There are a lot of things to consider during pregnancy. Following a healthy diet is necessary for the growth and development of the baby. It ...

by Kendra Reed

Can Pregnant Women Eat Shrimp? Understanding The Facts!

There are a lot of things to consider during pregnancy. Following a healthy diet is necessary for the growth and development of the baby. It is important to eat a variety of food items every day so that the baby and mother get the right balance of nutrients.

However, there are certain food items that you should avoid during pregnancy, and they include raw fish, alcohol, fish with mercury, raw sprouts, caffeine, raw eggs, unwashed vegetables, shellfish, unpasteurized milk, certain cheeses, and more. We should ensure that we follow the dietary restrictions during pregnancy to avoid harm to the baby and mother. 

Seafood is rich in nutrients that are biologically essential for the child’s development. Seafood is a great source of protein, iron, and zinc. It is also rich in omega-3 acids, which help with the baby’s brain development. The nutrients and vitamins in seafood are essential for maintaining overall health, especially the health of the brain, eyes, and immune system.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommends that Americans of all ages should eat more seafood, at least twice a week especially young children and pregnant women because of the health benefits it offers.  Seafood is a good choice to add to the diet.

While it is fine for most individuals to eat fish every day, some develop allergies or discomforts. For carrying and nursing mothers, it is better to eat fish that contains less mercury. 

Is It Safe For Pregnant Women To Eat Shrimp?

Shrimp is safe to eat during pregnancy but should be well-cooked to reduce the risk of food poisoning. However, many doctors recommend avoiding eating some food and seafood during pregnancy to protect the fetus and mother from food poisoning and mercury exposure.

So, is shrimp really safe to eat when pregnant? Well, stick to consuming two to three servings a week and avoid eating it raw. The major reason for limiting fish consumption is due to the risk of mercury exposure. Also, try not to consume fish that contain high levels of mercury. The presence of mercury in fish may adversely affect the health of those who eat them, as they are poisonous and toxic. This is especially not especially suitable for pregnant, nursing mothers, and young children. 

Eating Shrimp During Pregnancy

Fish and shellfish contain high concentrations of mercury often in the form of methylmercury, which is a highly toxic compound. This is the reason why fish is not recommended to be consumed by pregnant or nursing women. Mercury can harm brain development and may even cause other complications, which is why eating fish and shellfish is a great concern. However, not every fish is high in mercury, so, it is safe to eat and provides various health benefits. 

The only fish and shellfish that should be avoided during pregnancy are the ones that are not cooked well. While most experts recommend avoiding various seafood during pregnancy, shrimp are not on the list, as they are low in mercury.

However, pregnant and nursing mothers should have a clear understanding of which seafood is safe and which ones to avoid. Shrimps are a safer option as they are comparatively low in mercury. Raw seafood is something that should be avoided at all costs, as it can cause havoc to the health of the fetus and mother. Uncooked seafood heightens the risk of getting a foodborne illness. So, what women consume during pregnancy should be given much care. 

Benefits of eating shrimp during pregnancy

Eating seafood during pregnancy provides various benefits to the body. It provides protein, vitamin D, vitamin B-2, iron, potassium, and magnesium. Eating iron-rich food helps the body produce extra blood for the fetus and mother.

Shrimp is an ideal choice for pregnant mothers, as it is healthy, contains low levels of mercury, high in protein, and low-fat content. Shrimp are loaded with omega-3 and other nutrients women need during pregnancy. It supports the healthy growth of the fetus, supports brain development, and promotes blood flow.

However, eating shrimp or seafood daily can cause adverse effects on the baby and mother. Many research studies show that the omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood help reduce the risk of preterm birth. Also, eating omega-3-rich foods during pregnancy prevents the chances of low birth weight. 

Alternatives to shrimp for pregnant women

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that eating at least 8 ounces (224 grams) up to 12 ounces (340 grams) is suitable for pregnant women. This means 2 to 3 servings a week. Consuming seafood lower in mercury is recommended as it is safe and healthy for carrying women. Alternatives to shrimp include seafood that is low in mercury. Some of them are;

  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Anchovies
  • Freshwater trout
  • Sardines
  • Pacific mackerel

The above are considered the safest seafood for pregnant women. Other safe choices include;

  • Cod
  • Catfish
  • Canned light tuna
  • Pollock
  • Tilapia 

Conclusion

Concluding everything, it can be said that shrimp are safe to eat during pregnancy, as they are rich in proteins, vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and omega-3. These nutrients and minerals help improve the brain health, blood flow, and overall health of the mother and fetus.

However, only consume two to three servings every week, as over-consumption may cause harm to the mother and fetus. Avoid eating raw, uncooked fish or seafood that have higher mercury levels. Before eating seafood ensure they are cooked thoroughly to get its maximum benefits and to prevent food poisoning.

Eating 8 to 12 ounces a week that doesn’t have a lot of mercury is not only safe but also healthy. Before eating any seafood, ensure they are fresh, cooked, and low in mercury levels. Most health professionals do not recommend consuming seafood as it may cause food poisoning. But if we are cautious enough and eat seafood in the right amount, it provides various benefits. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is shrimp safe while pregnant?

Shrimp are safe to eat during pregnancy, as they contain less mercury levels. However, over-consumption or eating it raw may harm the fetus. So, stick to two to three servings of seafood. 

2. What seafood is OK during pregnancy?

Seafood that has lower mercury levels is safe to consume during pregnancy. Some seafood that is safe and healthy to consume during pregnancy include shrimp, pollock, salmon, catfish, sardine, trout, canned tuna, scallops, tilapia, and cod. 

3. Can pregnant women eat shrimp ceviche?

Shrimp ceviche is not safe for pregnant women as it is made with uncooked shrimp. Consuming raw fish can lead to food poisoning and might cause harm to the fetus. 

4. What foods should pregnant women avoid?

Raw fish or shellfish, unwashed vegetables, alcohol, cheese, unpasteurized milk, uncooked meat or eggs, fresh juice, and raw sprouts are some of the food items that pregnant women should avoid.

5. Which fruits are avoided in pregnancy?

Every fruit is safe to consume during pregnancy. However, wash it thoroughly before eating as it may contain harmful bacteria. The fruits should be fresh and washed properly before use. Do not consume fruits that have gone bad in any area. 

6. Is buttered shrimp good for pregnant?

Buttered shrimp are good for pregnant women as long as it is fresh and fully cooked. However, do not consume it too much, as shrimp contains a low level of mercury. 

Author

  • Kendra Reed

    Dr. Kendra Reed is a dedicated general medicine physician with 7 years of clinical experience. After graduating from medical school, she completed her residency in internal medicine, developing a well-rounded skillset in diagnosing and treating a diverse range of conditions. Patients appreciate Dr. Reed's warm bedside manner and commitment to providing comprehensive, personalized care. In addition to her clinical work, she is actively involved in community outreach programs, educating the public on important health topics. Dr. Reed is known for her ability to establish trusting relationships with her patients and help them achieve their wellness goals.

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