Sushi has always been one of my favorite foods to eat.
The yummy California roll, wrapped with cucumbers, avocado, and crab imitation? Or the amazing Volcano roll that is deep-fried and filled with cream cheese, avocado, and crab? What about the spicy tuna roll, beautifully wrapped around the seaweed with a hint of spicy mayo? Yum.
Can I just say that everything I just mentioned spells, D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S?!
Now that I’m pregnant, is it still safe to eat sushi? Here’s one of the most common questions pregnant Moms ask when they have a craving for sushi (including me).
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The Risks of Eating Sushi
Eating sushi can pose serious risks to your baby’s growth and development due to one fact: it contains raw fish.
When you eat raw fish, you are allowing disease-causing bacteria or viruses to enter your body. Once it enters, you and your baby are at a risk to infections. Possible issues that can occur include damaging effects to your baby’s nervous system and the brain. Not only does it affect the nervous system and the brain, it can also cause miscarriages (in the early stage of pregnancy) and birth defects (if your baby has further developed) – from a harmful bacteria called listeria.
According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the recommended safe temperature for cooked fish should be at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
So now that we learned that Pregnant Moms shouldn’t eat raw fish, what’s next?
Fish That You Can and Cannot Eat
Since raw fish is now eliminated, it doesn’t mean that you have to completely remove fish from your diet. You can still eat fish but it needs to be a specific type of fish – and it needs to be thoroughly cooked!
The fishes that you can eat has:
- Low levels of mercury
- Omega-3 fatty acids (important for neurological and visual development in babies)
- Rich protein
The fishes that you cannot eat has:
- High levels of mercury (which can damage your baby’s brain and nervous system)
To simplify, let’s first identify the 7 Types of Fish to Avoid:
- King Mackerel
- Orange roughy
- Bigeye Tuna
These types of fish has a greater longevity, which means that when they live longer, they eat more. And the amount of mercury they consume (from other fishes or from the environment) multiplies! Whew! Sounds like a lot right!
See below for a better visual about the types of fish you can eat. Make sure you download your FREE COPY from the FDA below – pin it to your refrigerator, bulletin board, or if you’re like me, take a photo or screenshot it and keep it handy in your phone at all times!
Is Crab Imitation Safe?
I often wonder if crab imitation was safe to eat – especially during pregnancy. I know it’s artificial crab (fake crab) and it’s kept refrigerated but does it actually contain harmful bacteria that can also cause damaging health conditions? If you haven’t noticed, there are several sushi rolls out there that contains crab imitation as a main source of “protein”.
For instance, if you were craving the famous and popular California roll, would it be okay to eat it? The answer to that is, yes, it is safe to eat.
Crab imitation is a combination of processed fish (mainly Pollock) and other ingredients such as egg whites, corn starch, sugar, and water. I say that here but always make sure you read the food labels! We never know if there’s that 1% out there that has an ingredient we’ve never heard of.
Did you notice that Pollock was labeled as a “Best Choices” type of fish that you should eat as shown above? Woo-hoo! Let’s put Pollock in our safe bucket here.
Alternatives to Eating Raw Sushi
Before we close the door on sushi, let’s explore the alternatives that you can start with instead of eating raw sushi!
- Vegetable Rolls – You will find that many restaurants offer sushi with ONLY vegetables (cucumber, avocado, etc…). These rolls are great because it offers health benefits from the veggies that you eat!
- 1-Ingredient Rolls – Restaurants also offer rolls that contains only one ingredient. Look for those on the menu and make sure you avoid the ones with “raw fish” in it! My favorite roll is the avocado roll. There’s only avocado in it but when I devour that yummy roll, it tastes as amazing as those special rolls that the Chef offers! Plus, I have an undying love for avocado so anything with it is simply satisfying!
- Fried Rolls – Look for fried rolls that contains pregnancy-safe ingredients. The one thing I like the most is that these rolls are fried, which means whatever is cooking along with it has gone up and under through the waves of blazing oil. Another note, tempura is also safe to consume (for example, shrimp tempura) since it’s thoroughly cooked.
- Cooked Rolls – As you look through the menu, make sure you spot check for the rolls that are COOKED. My favorite is the Cowboy Roll, a big time favorite here in the South (the ingredients vary among restaurants). The roll that “I had” consisted of cooked steak with avocado cream cheese. Yumm….just talking about it makes my hunger wheel spin!
- California Roll – And of course, the California roll. I’ve mentioned it several times throughout this post but yes, you can choose this roll instead of raw sushi!
I hope you enjoyed this post as I wanted to make it super helpful to you as well as to me. Although I’ve already gone past my pregnancy (now with my 11-month old), I’m still going to save it “for keeps” for the NEXT pregnancy.
What did you think about this post? Have you downloaded your free copy yet? And do you have a fun sushi story to tell? Do tell us here as we Mama’s would love to hear it.
Oh, and one more thing.
Don’t forget to share the love and pin this post! Help other Mama’s discover the risks of eating sushi while pregnant and be their next sushi hero!