Everyone has heard that there are certain foods pregnant people should avoid like the plague: this includes fan favorites like deli cold cuts, soft cheeses (we’re looking at you, Brie), and, of course, sushi. For many, giving up these foods can be really tough, and is one of the biggest downfalls of those nine months. But what if you found out that these rules aren’t quite as strict as you thought? Believe it or not, there are some kinds of sushi that you can eat while you’re pregnant, and yes, that statement is even doctor approved.
Before you take that information and run with it all the way to your favorite sushi restaurant, it’s important to know exactly what kinds of sushi are safe to eat during pregnancy, and why. raw fish should still be avoided (sorry!) for a very good reason. “Raw fish can contain parasites and bacteria in which an immunocompromised person, such as a pregnant woman, would be more susceptible towards developing an infection that could cause harm to fetus,” Dr. Monica Grover, double-board certified gynecologist at VSPOT Sexual Health Spa, explains to Romper. That even goes for raw fish from a very reputable restaurant. Dr. Grover notes that while they might take more caution while preparing sushi, eating it is still a risk she doesn’t recommend taking.
She also says that you should avoid fish that contains higher levels of mercury, which can lead to birth defects. This includes options like tuna, mackerel, marlin, and swordfish.
So, what can you eat? “Tempura sushi, or fish low in mercury that are cooked to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit, are safe to eat,” she says. Some great options are shrimp, black sea bass, and tilapia. Dr. Grover suggests ordering sushi such as shrimp, lobster, or veggie tempura, which are all cooked through. She notes that any type of veggie sushi is safe to eat, too.
It might sound tempting to disregard this information and just order a little raw fish when you’re really experiencing a craving, but both Dr. Grover and Dr. Roohi Jeelani, OB-GYN, reproductive endocrinologist, and infertility specialist at Vios Fertility Institute, strongly suggest against that. “Eating raw or undercooked meat or fish can put pregnant women at risk for toxoplasmosis or listeria,” Dr. Jeelani warns. “These infections can cause pregnancy-related complications such as miscarriage and stillbirth.”
While it’s most important to avoid raw fish in your first trimester, when the baby is doing a ton of important developing, it’s really just important to avoid it during all three trimesters. “As soon as you know you have a positive pregnancy test, stop eating anything raw or undercooked immediately,” Dr. Jeelani says.
Fortunately, there are tons of great options for both tempura and veggie sushi, and they can definitely tide you over until it’s safe for you and your little one to consume raw fish again. In this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry. And you can always add more soy sauce.
Dr. Monica Grover, double-board certified gynecologist at VSPOT Sexual Health Spa
Dr. Roohi Jeelani, OB-GYN, reproductive endocrinologist, and infertility specialist at Vios Fertility Institute