Fish during pregnancy? Debunking the common myth.
by Ashleigh Feltham
Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist
You are not alone if you feel uneasy about eating fish during pregnancy. The good news is fish and seafood are still on the menu during your pregnancy! Seafood contains many important nutrients like iron, protein and omega-3 fatty acids which support the health and growth of your child. Fish is also a good source of iodine which may prevent your child from developing a condition known as cretinism. Cretinism is a condition of severely stunted physical and mental growth owing to untreated congenital deficiency of the thyroid hormone, iodine assists with supporting thyroid health.
The bad news is not all fish is on the menu. When it comes to avoiding fish, there are 4 types of fish which you need to be aware of and exclude due to their high levels of mercury, these are:
- Shark (flake)
- Orange Roughy (Sea Perch)
- Bill Fish (Billfish, Marlin and Sword Fish, Billfish)
The ‘sometimes’ fish you can still eat but only 1 serve or 100g a week include:
- Bill Fish
- Orange Roughy or Shark
- Catfish (a fish you can still eat once in a fortnight but no more fish for the rest of that fortnight).
A common concern regarding seafood and pregnancy is it can be a high listeria risk. The safest fish to choose to reduce your risk is fish which is canned. My top pick is a can of Safcol Premium Salmon in Springwater 95g. Salmon contains the least amount of mercury as a ‘top dwelling’ fish. Second place goes to Safcol pouched tuna in spring water 74g. My third choice for the best fish to select during pregnancy are sardines. Sardines are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, although high in sodium.
Some ideas of how to incorporate these fish into your day are as follows:
- Top two pieces of whole-grain toast with Safcol Brisling Sardines in Tomato Sauce 110g. Add a side of cooked mushrooms and sautéed spinach for perfection.
- Take 2-3 whole-grain crackers. Add 50g of avocado, a slice of tomato and topped with Safcol Premium Salmon in Springwater 95g for a delicious snack.
- Make a tuna, avocado and chickpea salad. Using Safcol pouched tuna in spring water 74g, 50g of avocado, ½ chopped cucumber, 1 cup of chickpeas (drained and washed) and ¼ of red onion sliced. Add 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and crushed garlic to top (optional).
Make sure you wash all vegetables thoroughly and prepare and eat immediately to reduce any food safety risk.
Take home message
Fish is still on the menu during your pregnancy and including a 100g serve 2-3 times a week is a smart choice. Safcol makes your choice for the type of fish and seafood easy by offering a range of delicious, safe varieties of seafood to keep your taste buds, your health and the health of your child thriving.