Is It Safe To Eat Calamari During Pregnancy?

✔ Research-backed

Calamari or squid is a good source of essential fatty acids. But, can pregnant women eat calamari? Does it affect maternal and fetal health? Read this post to clarify your doubts.

It is natural for you to try your best to do everything right to provide the best for your growing baby. So, you do not step back from giving up eating things that you love. Also, you may even try something against your liking to fulfill the target of a balanced, wholesome diet.

Read on to learn if you can add calamari to your pregnancy diet.

In This Article

Is It Safe To Eat Calamari During Pregnancy?

Eating five ounces of calamari every week is safe during pregnancy.

Image: Shutterstock

Consuming about five ounces of calamari every week is considered safe during pregnancy and is beneficial for your developing baby.

Calamari is the Italian name for squid, which is high in nutritional value. It is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids (1), proteins, minerals, and other essential nutrients; and is low in sodium and saturated fat content. What about the mercury levels, though?

Calamari And Mercury

Almost all seafood contain some traces of mercury. Since mercury can have adverse effects on the nervous system of your developing baby (2), you need to adhere to your dietary restrictions and stay away from seafood such as tilefish, swordfish, marlin, and king mackerel that contain a high level of mercury.

However, calamari is one of the safest seafoods to be consumed during pregnancy as it is low in mercury content and high in nutrition. However, it is important to follow the recommendations and consume it in limited quantities – not more than five ounces a week – to make the most of its goodness.

Nutritional Values And Benefits Of Calamari

Here is the entire list of nutrients you can find in three ounces of cooked calamari serving, and how they will benefit you (3):

NutrientsAmount % in the recommended daily allowance (RDA)Benefits
Copper1.8mg90%
  • Helps in the production of hemoglobiniThe protein in red blood cells that is responsible for carrying oxygen and eliminating carbon dioxide.
  • Maintains the health of nervous system, blood vessels, and bones
Selenium44mcg63%
  • Regulates thyroid hormone
  • Prevents oxidative stressiA condition when the body can't keep up with neutralizing the harmful effects of free radicals, i.e., cell damage.
Protein15g30%
  • Helps in repairing and building tissues in your baby
  • Develops immunity
Phosphorus213mg21%
  • Helps build strong bones and teeth in your baby
  • Helps form genetic material, enzymes, and cell membranes
  • Helps release energy during metabolismiThe chemical processes in our bodies that create or use energy for growth and functioning.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.389mg23%
  • Helps in metabolism
Vitamin B121.05mcg18%
  • Helps in the formation of red blood cells and genetic material in your baby
  • Formation of the central nervous system
  • Regulates fat and protein metabolism
Zinc1.48mg10%
  • Helps in the production of enzymes and insuliniA hormone produced by the pancreas that keeps blood sugar at a healthy level in the body. in the baby
Vitamin C3.6mg6%
  • Helps build immunity in your body
Iron0.86mg5%
  • Helps in the formation of red blood cells in your baby
  • Helps increase blood flow through the uterine walls

Nutritional food need not always be lacking in flavor. You can make it interesting to eat so that you reap its benefits while relishing the taste.

How To Consume Calamari While Pregnant?

During pregnancy, cook calamari at home with ingredients you like.

Image: Shutterstock

Here are some guidelines you must follow while consuming calamari when pregnant to obtain the best from this nutritious seafood:

  • Avoid eating deep fried calamari. Deep frying reduces its nutritional value as well as adds unhealthy saturated fats, which may contribute to excessive weight gain.
  • Eat steamed or sautéed calamari so that the nutrients are intact, and it is easy on your digestive system.
  • Make calamari at home with fresh vegetables and all the ingredients that can make the dish tasty for you.
  • Sauté calamari in green salads to make a delightful snack.
  • Thoroughly clean the calamari and cook it well.

    Clean the calamari well before cooking it.

    Image: Shutterstock

  • Check the expiration date, freshness of the product, and hygiene of the store before you purchase calamari.

If you are allergic to calamari, then stay away from it during pregnancy. Before you start eating the seafood, make sure to talk to your doctor to ascertain its safety. They can tell you if you need it in your diet during pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How does the omega-3 content in calamari benefit pregnant women and their babies?

Squid contains a small amount of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids include DHA, EPA, and ALA, which help in fetal neurodevelopment and brain growth. Omega-3 is also known to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems such as coronary heart disease in women (2) (4).

2. What are some common misconceptions or myths about eating calamari while pregnant?

Studies on food taboos associated with pregnancy included squid under the taboo categories that highlighted myths related to undesired events such as deformities, miscarriage, twelve-month pregnancy, and unique fetal defects. In addition, it was also related to plausible physiological complications such as a child adopting the food animal’s characteristics, impacted intelligence, illness, the baby having sticky skin, or dangerous birth conditions. Additionally, squid is also believed to make the womb sticky. However, most of this is not scientifically backed, and the rest are debatable (5).

Calamari has a high nutritional value and low mercury level compared to other seafood. Hence, it is considered beneficial for pregnant women and the development of the fetus. You can safely consume calamari after steaming it or sauteeing it with fresh vegetables. However, it is advised to avoid having it in raw or deep-fried form as it may compromise its nutritional value. Further, caution should be employed as consumption of raw fish and seafood while pregnant is not advisable. Instead, you could add well-cooked calamari to salads or other recipes to enjoy its benefits.

Infographic: Nutritional Values And Advantages Of Calamari In Pregnancy

Calamari is among the safe seafood choices for pregnant women because it is low in mercury. However, make sure you buy it fresh and cook it well before consuming it. Besides being packed with essential omega-3 fatty acids, calamari provides other nutritional benefits, highlighted in the infographic below.

benefits of calamari in pregnancy (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Consuming calamari is safe during pregnancy at a limit of 5 ounces per week.
  • Calamari is a rich source of essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, copper, selenium, phosphorus, vitamins B2, B12, C, and iron.
  • Its low mercury content makes it a safe option for pregnant women.
  • Pregnant women allergic to calamari should avoid consuming it unless advised by a doctor.
can pregnant women eat calamari_illustration

Image: Dalle E/MomJunction Design Team

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Which Fish Is The Richest In Omega-3s?
    https://www.seafoodnutrition.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/RDN-Toolkit-2020_Omega3-Chart.pdf
  2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids; National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements
    https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/
  3. Mollusks fried cooked mixed species squid.
    https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Mollusks%2C_fried%2C_cooked%2C_mixed_species%2C_squid_nutritional_value.html#google_vignette
  4. Is squid oil a good source of omega-3 fatty acids?; Consumer Reports
    https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2013/03/is-squid-oil-a-good-source-of-omega-3-fatty-acids/index.htm
  5. Ornella Maggiulli et al; (2022); Food taboos during pregnancy: meta-analysis on cross cultural differences suggests specific diet-related pressures on childbirth among agriculturalists ; NCBI
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9281602/
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Claudia Wilson
Claudia WilsonMS, RDN, CSSD, CSCS
Claudia Wilson is a registered dietitian/ nutritionist, a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Nutrition (CSSD), and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). With an experience of 12 years, she currently manages her private practice All of Nutrition and authored One-Two Punch.

Read full bio of Claudia Wilson