You may have heard it’s important to eat fish. But then again, you may have heard fish can be dangerous, don’t eat it when you’re pregnant. What’s the deal with that?
Fish is an easy-to-prepare food. It is high in protein, low in fat and full of heart-healthy nutrients. But pollution in our oceans, lakes, rivers and streams is leaving some fish with toxic levels of mercury, which is especially damaging to fetuses, babies and children.
If a woman is exposed to high levels of mercury before or while she is pregnant, her health and the baby’s health are threatened. High levels of mercury can cause brain damage and affect a baby’s hearing and vision.
So, how much fish can a pregnant woman safely eat? To start with, you should not eat fish that can be high in mercury, like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. But you can safely eat up to 12 ounces a week of shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish and canned light tuna. It’s also OK to eat 6 ounces a week of albacore (white) tuna. All fish should be cooked to avoid any possible parasites or bacteria so, if you’re pregnant, skip the raw oysters, sushi and sashimi for now.
By following these guidelines, you can obtain the health benefits of eating fish, while reducing your baby’s exposure to mercury.