Eating while pregnant can be tricky. Whether you’re loading up on pregnancy-safe snacks on your baby registries or adding healthy treats to your newborn checklist to get milk flowing, it’s important to know which foods you can eat and which to avoid altogether — especially if you’re craving something from the ocean.
Can pregnant women eat crab?
For most people, the American Heart Association encourages eating a wide variety of fish several times a week to get enough omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins such as D, B2 (riboflavin), calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium.
But, just as there are alternative recommendations for use of coffee or matcha while pregnant, there is also a list of seafoods that shouldn’t be ingested.
Mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish, tuna, and bigeye shouldn’t be eaten while pregnant because these are high mercury fish. With so many fish to avoid, it’s easy to assume crab might be on the list.
“Good news for shellfish enthusiasts: crab is safe to eat during pregnancy,” says Stephanie Brownridge, a Reproductive Endocrinologist at Shady Grove Fertility New York. “Pregnant women can enjoy up to 2-3 servings of crab per week, as part of a balanced diet.”
As far as imitation crab, however, Brownridge notes that while it’s low in mercury (and a better choice than fish like tuna, which are high in mercury), it still must be cooked thoroughly.
“And always ask whether the food has been prepared with any other seafood to ensure no contamination from raw fish,” she adds.
Brownridge says all shellfish should be thoroughly cooked, and raw shellfish should be avoided entirely during pregnancy. Eating undercooked or raw shellfish of any form can cause food poisoning or life-threatening infections due to the bacteria and parasites shellfish carry.
Is crab meat healthy during pregnancy?
The short answer is yes, but with a caveat, according to Brownridge.
“The two main concerns with seafood consumption in pregnancy are mercury exposure (a neurotoxin) and risk of infection, such as from bacteria,” Brownridge says of eating crab meat during pregnancy.
“Seafood that is low in mercury and thoroughly cooked is not only safe but offers a healthy dietary option to ensure the nutritional needs of pregnancy are met.”
It doesn’t matter if it’s for your first pregnancy or your fifth — fish and shellfish are great sources of vitamins and minerals. Crab meat is high in protein with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and selenium.
These are all important nutrients to nourish you and your growing baby and make the idea of preparing a mouth-watering crab dish all the more palatable.
Of all seafood, crab is among the best choices to eat during pregnancy. Other acceptable and healthy sources include salmon, trout, herring and thoroughly cooked sushi. The most important takeaway is to ensure all acceptable seafood, especially crab meat, is properly cooked.
Almost every crab variety, including blue crab and stone crabs, is an excellent source of protein. Plus, easy to weave cooked crab into a variety of healthy pregnancy meals ranging from sandwiches to pasta—or even on its own with a bit of lemon.
Raw crab is always off the menu when you’re pregnant.
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