According to research, pregnant women can eat up to 12 ounces of fully cooked shellfish or fish, including shrimp, per week. This equals about two or three meals per week. Pregnant women can choose to have it in any fully cooked form (avoid raw), such as sauteed, baked or grilled.
What are the health benefits of eating shrimp?
During pregnancy, women should eat a healthy diet to make sure they meet the nutritional guidelines for growing a healthy baby.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, eating seafood, such as shrimp, offers several nutritious elements that benefit pregnant women and the baby in their womb.
The various nutritional benefits of shrimp include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids. According to studies, omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood could potentially lower the chances of preterm birth when ingested during pregnancy. Omega-3s are believed to be crucial for the brain and eye development of babies.
- Protein. Protein demands increase significantly during pregnancy. Shrimp is an excellent lean protein option, providing seven grams of protein per one ounce of shrimp. Being tasty and low in fat, it is one of the best seafood options to eat during pregnancy.
- Iron. Iron is necessary for increasing the healthy red blood cells in the pregnant woman and her baby. Eating iron-rich foods can help fight iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy and provide the woman with improved stamina.
- Iodine. Iodine is an essential element for the formation of thyroid hormones in the mother as well as in babies. These hormones play a role in the development of the brain and nervous system of the baby. The need for iodine increases during pregnancy and shrimp is a good way to ensure iodine intake during pregnancy.
Shrimp is a rich source of vitamins (such as vitamins B12 and D) and minerals (such as calcium, magnesium, selenium and potassium), which are especially important during pregnancy.
Is shrimp safe to eat during pregnancy?
Shrimp is safe to eat during pregnancy if it is fully cooked and not eaten raw. Eating seafood raw (uncooked), such as sushi and shrimp, is unhealthy due to the risk of foodborne illness, which can harm the baby.
Additionally, some types of seafood have been found to contain high levels of mercury, which has made people question if shrimp contains mercury in unhealthy proportions. On the contrary, shrimp usually contains low mercury levels. Pregnant women should make sure they purchase packaged shrimp from a reputed brand or store. If they want to eat locally caught fish, they should try to get information from the community health department on the mercury levels in local water bodies.
Pregnant women should ensure that the shrimp they are buying is clear with a pearl-like color and has little or no smell.
During pregnancy, you should avoid seafood that is most likely to be contaminated with high levels of mercury, which includes:
- Fresh tuna
- King mackerel
- Orange roughy
If women have any concerns about eating shrimp or any other seafood during their pregnancy, they should always ask their doctor first.
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Mayo Clinic. Pregnancy and Fish: What's Safe to Eat? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-and-fish/art-20044185
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