Fish are a nutritious component of a balanced diet, including if you're pregnant. However, there are a few types of fish that are best for pregnant people to steer clear of. To help you load your diet with the right seafood, here's a list of safe fish during pregnancy.
But first, why include fish in your pregnancy diet? Well, they're packed with nutrients like protein, iron, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which support your wellbeing and the health of your developing baby, according to the Mayo Clinic.
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However, some types of seafood can contain high levels of mercury. And eating too much mercury in fish can potentially harm your baby, per the Mayo Clinic.
As a result, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend pregnant people eat 8 to 10 ounce equivalents of low-mercury seafood per week (for reference, 3 ounces of grilled fish is about the size of a checkbook, per the University of Rochester Medical Center).
Here's a list of safe fish to eat during pregnancy to help you get your fill.
Make sure the fish you eat while pregnant is properly cooked, and avoid any raw seafood (like sushi), per the Mayo Clinic.
Tilapia is a favorite fish of many, which is why you may be wondering if you can eat tilapia while pregnant.
Indeed, eating tilapia during pregnancy is considered safe, according to the Mayo Clinic. You can have tilapia while pregnant because the fish is low in mercury and high in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids.
Most tilapia is safe. But if you eat locally caught tilapia while pregnant (or other fish, for that matter), just make sure to check local advisories before chowing down, per the Mayo Clinic. If no advisories are available, limit your intake of local fish to 6 ounces a week.
Salmon is another solid option: It's likewise low in mercury and packed with omega-3s to support you and your baby's health, per the Mayo Clinic.
If you're weighing tilapia vs. salmon, rest assured that both are on the list of safe fish during pregnancy. However, salmon contains significantly more omega-3s, per My Food Data.
Still, both are good sources of protein and fuel, so which one you decide to eat can come down to personal preference.
Craving something salty while pregnant? Anchovies may do the trick, as they're safe to eat during pregnancy, according to the Mayo Clinic.
They're also low in mercury and full of omega-3s, meaning they'll do more than just satisfy your urge for something salty.
Just make sure to track your sodium intake if you tend to crave salty snacks — the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends pregnant people have 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.
Can You Eat Mahi Mahi While Pregnant?
While mahi mahi isn't the worst type of fish to eat while you're pregnant, it's also not the best. That's because it contains higher mercury levels than the safest fish options, per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Accordingly, talk to your doctor before eating mahi mahi while pregnant to make sure it's OK for you.
You love them or you hate them, but either way, sardines are another good fish to eat while pregnant, according to the Mayo Clinic.
They pack 2 grams of omega-3s per 3-ounce serving, which is among the highest levels of omega-3 and the lowest amount of mercury contained in any fish, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Sardines are also a solid source of calcium and vitamin D, two important nutrients to support a healthy pregnancy and your overall wellbeing.
Like anchovies, however, canned or packed sardines can contain high amounts of sodium, so make sure not to exceed your daily limit, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Herring is an oily, fatty fish that contains plenty of omega-3s to support the development of your growing baby, per the Mayo Clinic. In fact, it packs more omega-3s per serving than other fish high in fatty acids, like salmon and tuna, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Herring is also low in mercury, making it another safe option to incorporate into your pregnancy diet, per the Mayo Clinic.
6. Pacific Mackerel
Next on the list of safe fish during pregnancy? Mackerel.
The Pacific mackerel (also known as the chub mackerel) is a nutritious fish that's low in mercury, which is why its OK to include in your pregnancy diet, per the Mayo Clinic.
Make sure to stick to Pacific mackerel, as other types of the fish — like King mackerel — can contain high amounts of mercury, per the Cleveland Clinic.
If flounder is your favorite fish, you may be wondering whether you can eat flounder while pregnant.
Fortunately, you can — this type of flatfish is low in mercury, which is why it's cleared to snack on during pregnancy, according to the University of Michigan Medicine.
Sole is another type of flatfish that you can eat while you're pregnant.
It's likewise low in mercury, making it a safe (and delicious) addition to your pregnancy meals, according to the University of Michigan Medicine.
Can You Eat Corvina Fish or Branzino When Pregnant?
Eating corvina fish or branzino (European bass) in pregnancy may be OK in moderation, but it's best to talk to your doctor first. That's because these types of fish may contain higher levels of mercury than others, according to the FDA.
9. Canned Tuna
Canned tuna is another common fish snack, and luckily, there's no need to give it up during pregnancy.
Canned light tuna is full of protein and omega-3s, and contains less mercury than other types of tuna you may encounter at the market, per the Mayo Clinic.
While canned tuna is safe to eat during pregnancy, limit white (albacore) tuna and tuna steaks to a maximum 6 ounces a week, as these varieties contain more mercury, per the Mayo Clinic.
10. Cod and Haddock
If cod is your go-to fish dish, there's no reason to stop eating it just because you're pregnant.
Indeed, cod is another low-mercury option that's worth adding to your pregnancy diet, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Haddock is another popular fish that's a member of the cod family, per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and it's likewise OK to munch on.
If you like cod or haddock, then you may also have a palate for their cousin, pollock.
Like many of the other fish on this list, pollock is high in protein and low in mercury, and thus a good option to eat while you're pregnant, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Can You Eat Grouper While Pregnant?
Grouper isn't the best choice to eat during pregnancy, but it also isn't the worst. It contains higher levels of mercury than the safest fish options, but not extremely high amounts, per the FDA. As a result, talk to your doctor to see if you can include grouper in your pregnancy diet.
You can eat perch while pregnant — in fact, both freshwater and ocean species are safe, according to the University of Michigan Medicine.
Just make sure to stay on top of local advisories about fish safety if you opt for a fresh catch, per the Mayo Clinic.
Catfish, a staple in Creole and Cajun cuisine, are another tasty fish to add to your pregnancy diet list, according to the Mayo Clinic.
This low-mercury fish is packed with protein, vitamins and minerals to support you and your baby's health.
14. Freshwater Trout
Trout is a popular fish for a reason: It's delicious. As an added bonus, it's also safe to eat during pregnancy due to its low mercury content, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Just make sure to stick to freshwater varieties, as sea trout can contain more mercury, per the FDA.
Fish to Avoid While Pregnant
According to the Mayo Clinic and FDA, it's best to avoid high-mercury seafood during pregnancy, such as:
- King mackerel
- Orange roughy
- Bigeye tuna
- Mayo Clinic: "Pregnancy and fish: What's safe to eat?"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans"
- University of Rochester Medical Center: "Visualize Your Portion Size"
- Cleveland Clinic: "3 Healthiest (and Worst) Fish For Your Health"
- University of Michigan Medicine: "Safe Fish to Eat During Pregnancy"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Advice About Eating Fish"
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: "Haddock"
- My Food Data: "Cooked Sockeye Salmon"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Food Safety for Pregnant Women
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Fish Consumption Advisories