During pregnancy nutrition is a key factor in achieving healthy births. For women of childbearing age (about 16-49 years old), especially pregnant and breastfeeding women, and for parents and caregivers of young children, the EPA and FDA recommends that these groups eat two to three servings (8-12 ounces) of a variety of fish and shellfish each week. Species rich in healthy fats such as salmon, trout and mackerel, as well as cod will also contribute the DHA and EPA your body needs to keep you and baby going through pregnancy. Studies have shown that children whose mothers ate fish during pregnancy had improved brain function compared with those whose mothers whose diets did not include seafood.
Seafood offers many benefits to both mother and child:
Increased levels of marine omega-3 fatty acids during the later stages of pregnancy can reduce the risk of postnatal depression. During the final months of pregnancy, the mother is drained of the natural healthy fats DHA and EPA because they are being concentrated in the child’s brain. Restocking your omega-3 fatty acids by eating more seafood in the late stages of pregnancy appears to reduce the risk of depression.
A regular intake of marine omega-3 fatty acids can help children gain improved brain function, better physical coordination and even social skills later in life.
Eating seafood rich in natural oils during pregnancy helps build healthy bones and skeletons in children because seafood contains vitamin D, which ensures the efficient take-up of calcium in the body.
Seafood also contains iodine, which helps manage growth, maintain energy levels and regulate our metabolism. A lack of iodine can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, lethargy, depression and swelling of the thyroid gland.
Below are answers to the most commonly asked questions in connection with pregnancy:
Are there certain types of seafood that are more important than others during pregnancy?
The FDA and EPA created a chart to help you choose which fish to eat, and how often to eat them, based on their mercury levels. The “Best Choices” have the lowest levels of mercury and include cod, crab, haddock, and salmon. The full chart can be found on www.fda.gov
Can I eat sushi during pregnancy?
Raw fish—such as sushi or sashimi—or foods made with raw fish are more likely to contain parasites or bacteria than foods made from cooked fish. The FDA recommends that pregnant women do not eat raw or undercooked finfish or shellfish (including oysters, clams, and mussels).
Can I eat smoked salmon during pregnancy?
Refrigerated, smoked seafood often labeled as lox, nova style, kippered, or jerky should be avoided because it could be contaminated with listeria. (These are safe to eat when they are in an ingredient in a meal that has been cooked, like a casserole.) This type of fish is often found in the deli section of your grocery store. Canned or shelf-safe smoked seafood is usually fine to eat.
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