Is It Safe To Eat Imitation Crab During Pregnancy?

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Imitation crab can be a delicious, inexpensive substitute for crab, offering a similar taste. However, if you are craving this while pregnant, you should know that consuming imitation crab during pregnancy has its share of negative and positive effects.

The nutritional value of this pseudo-crab meat accounts for both its pros and cons. The high phosphorus content contributes to a healthy heart, whereas on the other hand, excess consumption may lead to a stroke from its high sodium content. Hence, knowing the right amount and way to consume it is extremely important.

Read on to know about the consumption of imitation crab while pregnant, including its benefits and drawbacks, tips for safe consumption, and some delicious recipes.

What Is Imitation Crab?

Imitation crab is a form of Japanese fish cake

Image: iStock

An imitation crab is a form of Japanese fish cake made from blending a white fish called Alaskan Pollock with flavorings, colorants, and ingredients. Making imitation crab involves rinsing, skimming, grinding and cooking into an odorless paste called surimi. The makers then cut the paste into strips to resemble the leg meat of the crab. In a nutshell, imitation crab gives the yummy taste of crabs without burning a hole in the pocket. And it is readily available at most supermarkets and grocery stores.

Nutritional Value (USDA):

Calories85Sodium715 mg
Total Fat1 gPotassium76 mg
Saturated0 gTotal Carbs13 g
Polyunsaturated0 gDietary Fiber0 g
Monounsaturated0 gSugars6 g
Trans0 gProtein7 g
Cholesterol17 mg
Vitamin A0%Calcium1%
Vitamin C0%Iron

Can You Eat Imitation Crab While Pregnant?

Imitation crab can have both benefits and drawbacks. The safety of imitation crab also depends on the type of fish used to make it. Let’s check out the advantages and disadvantages of imitation crab.

Benefits Of Eating Imitation Crab While Pregnant

1. Low In Saturated Fat And Calories:

Eating imitation crab during pregnancy is good for cholesterol

Image: iStock

Imitation crab is low in fat and calories, which makes it a great addition to your diet if you’re watching your cholesterol. 3 ounces of imitation crab contains 1 gram of fat, 81 calories and 17 milligrams of cholesterol. A low-fat and low-calorie food will also protect you from chronic diseases.

2. Contains Low Levels Of Mercury:

Mercury is a contaminant found abundant in certain species of fish. It can negatively impact the nervous system development of the baby. But imitation crab is quite low in mercury, only if it is made of surimi.

3. Contains High Level Of Phosphorus:

Imitation crab contains a good dose of phosphorus. Phosphorus is present in most parts of our body, mainly teeth and bones. Phosphorus aids in the proper functioning of muscles and kidneys as well as many other functions in our body like healthy nerve function. The recommended daily allowance of phosphorus is 700 milligrams a day. 3 ounces of imitation crab will supply you with 240 milligrams.

Why Is It Not Safe To Eat Imitation Crab During Pregnancy?

1. Sodium:

One of the primary nutritional drawbacks of the imitation crab is the amount of salt it contains. A three-ounce serving of imitation crab contains at least 700-800 milligrams of sodium. The recommended upper limit of sodium intake is 2,300 milligrams a day. Excess levels of sodium in the body can increase the risk of high blood pressure, as well as edema or swelling in pregnancy.

2. Added Sugar Content:

Imitation crab contains a large amount of carbohydrate

Image: iStock

A stick of imitation crab contains a large amount of carbohydrate, around 5grams per 3 ounces. This is a little over a teaspoon of sugar, which many people would not expect in fish! But artificial crab is processed and has sugar and salt added.

Contains Preservatives

The imitation crab may contain additives like MSG, and other preservatives, which may not be the best choice for you and your baby.

Safety Profile

  • Always read the ingredients list on the label to determine what kind of fish it contains. Please avoid imitation crab that uses king mackerel, swordfish, marlin, orange roughy, and shark. If it contains shrimp, crab and lobster, then you can eat it twice a week during pregnancy. Normally it’s made from Alaskan Pollock, which has no limits.
  • Never eat raw or undercooked imitation crab. Undercooked or raw imitation crab can harbor bacteria, especially Listeria. It can pose extreme danger to you and your fetus.
  • Cook the imitation crab at 145 degrees or above to destroy all the bacteria in the imitation crab.
Cook the imitation crab at 145 degrees or above


  • Do not eat imitation crab that has been lying open for more than three days. It might have harmful bacteria. Remember, pregnant women are 20 times more susceptible to catch diseases than any other healthy adults.
  • If you are eating imitation crab at a restaurant, then ask the chef what fish he uses before ordering.

How To Include Imitation Crab In Your Diet

There are plenty of ways to include imitation crab in your diet. Some include:

  • Combine imitation crab with herbs and mayonnaise to make a delicious sandwich filling.
  • Toss chunks of imitation crab in a green salad. You can also add pieces of it in vegetable soup.
  • Stir diced imitation crab in low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt and then sprinkle some herbs and pepper to make a yummy dip.


Here is an easy imitation crab recipe for you to follow.

Imitation Crab Salad:

Imitation crab salad during pregnancy

Image: iStock

You Will Need:

  • 8 ounces of imitation crabmeat, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups of cooked rice, cooked
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, cooled and chopped

How To:

  1. Combine rice, eggs, and imitation crabmeat in a large bowl.
  1. Stir in mayonnaise. If the salad looks dry to you, then you can add some more mayonnaise.
  1. Cover and refrigerate overnight and serve with brown bread toast.

If you love seafood, you may want to gorge on delectable fish and seafood even while you’re pregnant. Consuming certain seafood such as imitation crab during pregnancy may be beneficial but presents a few disadvantages, as it could have added sugars, preservatives, and increased sodium content. However, when consumed in recommended amounts, a fresh and properly cooked imitation crab could be safe to eat in pregnancy. Nevertheless, you may seek your doctor’s advice and follow the necessary safety guidelines to include this tasty seafood in your pregnancy diet.


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Ria Saha

Ria is a techie-turned-writer and writes articles on health, with special emphasis on nutrition. She did her B.Tech from West Bengal University of Technology and was previously associated with IBM as SAP ABAP technical consultant. She moved into freelance content writing in 2013 and worked for various websites including MomJunction, Brainpulse Technologies, and Emarketz India.

Jennifer House

(MSc, RD)
Jennifer House is a Registered Dietitian and owner of First Step Nutrition in Calgary, Alberta. Whether dealing with picky eaters or starting a baby on solids, Jennifer helps parents decrease food overwhelm through online programs. She is the creator of the Solid Steps to Baby-led Weaning e-course, End Picky Eating group coaching program, and author of  "The Parents' Guide to...
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