Can Pregnant Women Eat Shrimp? Things You Should Know

Can Pregnant Women Eat Shrimp

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Pregnancy is a time for heightened feelings. And craving for food tops that list. Of the many foods that fall in the cravings list, seafood is definitely one. But, be it oysters, sushi, shrimp, mackerel, or any other seafood, you might want to know whether it is safe to consume or not during pregnancy. They could be a good source of nutrients and minerals, but sometimes it is good to avoid them during pregnancy.

If you are a seafood lover, with shrimp being your most favorite food, MomJunction will tell you if shrimps are safe to eat during pregnancy.

Is It Safe To Eat Shrimp During Pregnancy?

Yes, it is safe to eat shrimp during pregnancy as they are low in mercury level. However, you should limit its consumption to 12oz (340g) a week and it should be properly cooked (1).

[ Read: Prawns During Pregnancy ]

Health Benefits Of Eating Shrimp When Pregnant:

Shrimp are a storehouse of nutritional value, and you must include them in your diet.

1. Rich source of omega-3s

Shrimp is known to be the second most important source of omega-3 fatty acids, which contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The fatty acid DHA is very important for the growing fetus as it aids in the development of the brain, central nervous system, and eyes (2).

A study concluded that women who consumed seafood gave birth to children with better cognitive skills and neurodevelopment. (3). As our bodies cannot make the essential fatty acids, we need external sources such as shrimps, to fulfill the need

2. Abundant amino acids and proteins

About 75% of the edible part of shrimp is water. Of the remaining 25%, 80% is protein; 100g of fresh shrimp has around 19.4gm of protein. Shrimps are also rich in amino acids, which have to be consumed from external food sources.

3. Abundant essential vitamins and minerals

Calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium are essential minerals during pregnancy. They stimulate bone health, regulate enzyme production, and maintain fluid balance. 100g of fresh shrimp gives about 100mg calcium, 300mg phosphorus, and 40μg of selenium. Shrimp also contains the right amounts of vitamins A, D, E, B12, and B3 (4).

Calcium and phosphorus are essential for good bone and teeth in adults, and bone development in babies. Selenium boosts mother’s immunity.

4. High iron

Shrimps contain 1.8mg iron per 100gm (5). Iron helps reduce the risk of anemia in pregnancy and aids proper blood supply to the fetus. It also lowers the risk of preterm labors.

5. Low fat

Shrimp is low fat seafood, which means you need not worry about excess weight gain by eating shrimp while pregnant.

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[ Read: Crab During Pregnancy ]

Can You Eat Raw Or Undercooked Shrimp?

You should never consume raw or undercooked shrimps. They are known to cause listeriosis (6), a bacterial infection caused by listeria found in raw seafood. The bacteria may also infect the fetus through the placenta, and can cause a miscarriage.

You can eat shrimp during pregnancy but advised to process them into cocktails and tempura rather than sautéing them with ingredients, as it may give you a bad stomach.

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The Right Way To Eat Shrimps – How To Cook Them:

The process of cooking shrimp is important to avoid the chances of infections.

  • Use warm water to clean the shrimp. Scale the shrimp and remove the intestinal tract and the back vein which are easily visible. Use a sharp knife to devein the shrimp.
  • If you have stored them in the refrigerator, make sure to thaw them completely.
  • Boiling is the best method to cook shrimps. Cook them at 74ºC as they can lose the bacteria only at that temperature.
  • Saute or fry them only after boiling them properly. The Indian way of cooking shrimps by making a curry or tandoori is the safe way to eat it. Homemade shrimps are safer than restaurant-made.
  • If you are using the microwave, allow it to stand for three to four minutes, and then cook the seafood thoroughly.

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Which Shrimp Is Safe To Eat?

Not all species of shrimps are safe to consume. The most edible shrimps during pregnancy are:

Wild caught spot prawns: They are massive shrimps caught from the waters of the Pacific Coast of the US or British Columbia. They are sold live and are expensive.

Wild caught bay shrimp, pink shrimp, cocktail shrimp, or northern shrimp: They are cold-water, tiny shrimps used for garnishing and in salads, beans, or rice. Their origin is Oregon or the Northeast, and are of reasonable cost.

Wild caught rock shrimps: They look like lobsters and have sweet flesh. They cook quickly compared to regular shrimps. They are caught from the Gulf of Mexico.

The US farmed shrimps: They are cultured under US regulation act, giving them higher standards. They are harbored at the best farms.

Locally farmed shrimp, West Coast farmed shrimp, and shrimps from the Southern and Midwestern states are other choices.

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[ Read: Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy ]

Can You Eat Shrimp Paste When Pregnant?

Shrimps in the form of paste are very popular. Most countries of Asia and America use shrimp paste as a condiment to their diet. You can buy raw shrimps from the grocery stores and then cook them at home. You can enjoy a variety of recipes made of shrimp when pregnant, provided you cook them well. But, do not exceed the recommended amount.

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And, do not forget to check with your health care provider before adding shrimps to your pregnancy diet.

If you have got anything to share regarding shrimps or if you have any tasty recipes, feel free to write to us.

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Rebecca Malachi

She is a Biotechnologist with a proficiency in areas of genetics, immunology, microbiology, bio-engineering, chemical engineering, medicine, pharmaceuticals to name a few. Her expertise in these fields has greatly assisted her in writing medical and life science articles. With 8+ years of work experience in writing for health and wellness, she is now a full-time contributor for Momjunction.com. She is passionate about giving research-based information to readers in need. Apart from writing, she is a foodie, loves travel, fond of gospel music and enjoys observing nature in silence. Know more about her at: linkedin.com/in/kothapalli-rebecca-35881628
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