Many women may consider eating smoked salmon in pregnancy due to the various health benefits attributed to the fish. Smoked salmon contains several healthy fats, minerals, and vitamins, helping healthy fetal brain development while also benefiting maternal health. Nevertheless, it is essential to observe some safety guidelines and avoid eating fish contaminated with germs or other contaminants, such as mercury, which can harm the fetus.
Read this post to know the various benefits and risks of eating salmon during pregnancy.
Is It Safe To Eat Smoked Salmon In Pregnancy?
Can pregnant women eat smoked salmon? The safety of consuming smoked salmon during pregnancy depends on certain factors. It is safe for consumption if it is part of a cooked dish and is stored well. For example, canned or shelf-safe smoked salmon are usually safe for consumption. Its safety also depends on the smoking style used to process the salmon. For example, salmon labeled as lox, nova style, or jerky should be avoided unless part of a cooked meal (1).
What Is The Nutritional Value Of Smoked Salmon?
The nutritional value of 100g of smoked salmon is as follows:
|Saturated fatty acids||1.79g|
|Total monounsaturated fatty acids||5.36g|
|Total polyunsaturated fatty acids||1.79g|
Source: Smoked Salmon: FoodData Central; U.S. Department of Agriculture
Salmon is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It is also low in saturated fats, making it a healthy fat source that assists in fetal brain development (2).
Which Types Of Smoked Salmon Are Safe In Pregnancy?
The following types of smoked salmon pose a low risk of infection and can be consumed while you are expecting:
- Hot-smoked salmon
It has a smoky flavor and is completely cooked and cured at temperatures as high as 82°C (179.6°F). It is safe for consumption if used in a dish that has been heated to an internal temperature of 165°F (73°C). However, avoid eating refrigerated or pre-frozen hot-smoked salmon as it may harbor Listeria (3) (4) (5).
- Canned, tinned, or shelf-stable smoked salmon
They are safe for consumption in a cooked dish where the internal temperatures are 165°F (73°C) (6).
Shelf-stable smoked salmon is vacuum packed and available in non-refrigerated aisles. However, as they should be refrigerated once opened, avoid consuming after unsealing the pack.
Which Types Of Smoked Salmon Are Unsafe For Pregnant Women?
Undercooked smoked salmon is best avoided by expectant moms, as it might contain parasites. Also, avoid fish products that pose a higher risk of contamination, such as
- Cold-smoked salmon
As per its name, this type of salmon is cured at below 30°C (86°F) to ensure good muscle texture. Since cold-smoked fish is uncooked, it offers a natural breeding ground for Listeria (3) (7). Cold salmon may also be marketed in other names, so ensure you check the labels.
- Products containing smoked salmon
Pre-processed food products, such as smoked salmonpâté and spreads or salmon-flavored cream cheese or dips, may pose a threat of contamination. As the cure type or processing method used is unknown, they are best avoided during the gestational period. These salmon products may also contain unpasteurized milk—another reason to avoid them (6).
- Smoked salmon sushi
Salmon sushi is mostly made of raw fish. A study on Listeria in salmon sushi showed an exponential increase in their count over three days. Hence, avoid salmon sushi, especially if raw, during pregnancy. However, you may consider eating cooked salmon sushi (8).
How Much Smoked Salmon Is Safe To Eat When Pregnant?
Though salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, smoked salmon has a high salt content. Furthermore, seafood may contain high levels of mercury, which may affect a developing fetus’s nervous system. Considering the above factors, you may consume up to two portions of smoked salmon per week (9).
What Are The Potential Risks Of Eating Smoked Salmon While Pregnant?
Both hot-smoked and cold-smoked salmon pose risks. The following are the potential side-effects of eating smoked salmon for a mom-to-be:
- High risk of listeriosis
Cold-smoked salmon and deli meat may harbor Listeria monocytogenes, a germ that causes foodborne illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, listeriosisiXA food-borne disease caused by bacteria of the genus Listeria. may affect the fetus and result in premature birth, stillbirthiXThe death or loss of a baby after 28 weeks of pregnancy, before or during birth. , or miscarriages.
It easily affects those with compromised immune systems; pregnant women are ten times more likely to be infected. (10) (11). The American Pregnancy Association states that approximately 22% of cases of perinatal listeriosis result in stillbirth or neonatal death.
- Parasitic worms
Salmon could be a breeding ground for tapeworms, and the consumption of raw salmon increases the risk of parasitic infectionsiXInfections caused by parasites, which are organisms living on other species (hosts). . When consumed, fish tapeworm (Diphyllobothrium latum) may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and anemia (12).
- High in sodium
Hot or cold, smoked salmon is initially cured in salt. 100g of smoked salmon contains around 1214mg of sodium, nearly 40% of the recommended daily sodium intake (3000mg). Excessive salt intake during pregnancy could affect the newborn’s renal functioniXA term used to represent or assess kidney functioning. (13) (14) (15).
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I eat pink salmon while pregnant?
Yes, all varieties of salmon, including pink salmon, are considered safe to consume during pregnancy (16). The American Pregnancy Association suggests a healthy pink salmon croquettes recipe for pregnant women (17).
2. Is smoked salmon healthier than cooked salmon in pregnancy?
You may consume both cooked and smoked salmon during pregnancy. Raw seafood should be cooked to 145°F to prevent infections such as listeria. Smoked salmon can be consumed when it is canned, shelf-stable, or is an ingredient of a well-cooked dish. Refrigerated smoked salmon should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill harmful germs (6).
3. What are the best ways to store smoked salmon when pregnant?
Smoked salmon should be stored in the refrigerator at or below 40°F (4°C) and well-wrapped or sealed to avoid air exposure. It is advisable to use a refrigerator thermometer to ensure accurate temperature control. When storage temperatures exceed 3°C, Clostridium botulinum growth and toxin production in certain varieties of smoked fish are potentially risky. Consume it within the specified time range to maintain freshness and reduce the likelihood of bacterial growth. Once the frozen product is thawed, it is crucial to promptly open and use the package. In cases where immediate use is not anticipated, the seafood should be tightly wrapped in plastic, foil, or moisture-proof paper and stored in the freezer (21) (22).
If you wish to consume smoked salmon in pregnancy, ensure you exercise caution and eat the low-risk types, such as hot-smoked salmon, which are completely cooked and stored correctly. Eating unsafe varieties, such as cold-smoked salmon, may increase your risk of developing listeriosis or parasitic worms, which may adversely affect your pregnancy. Also, consume smoked salmon in moderate quantities to avoid complications, and talk to your health care specialist during your prenatal care checkups if you have any doubts about its consumption. However, if you skip eating salmon, ask your doctor about alternative sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Infographic: Ways To Eat Smoked Salmon During Pregnancy
Hot smoked salmon is considered safe for consumption during pregnancy. It is better to incorporate it in dishes that need to be heated to about 165°F (74°C) and not have it cold. The infographic below lists some tasty combinations to enjoy smoked salmon during pregnancy safely.
- Pregnant women can safely consume thoroughly cooked smoked salmon within the recommended amount.
- It is a great source of omega-3, protein, and other essential nutrition for a healthy diet and babies’ brain development.
- Not all types of smoked salmon can be consumed during pregnancy.
- Foods To Avoid When Pregnant.
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- People At Risk – Pregnant Women And Newborns.
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- Eating Right Before And During Pregnancy.
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- Advice about Eating Fish.
- Nutritious Salmon Patties.
- Food Safety Focus.
- Nutrition During Pregnancy.
- Illness-Causing Fish Parasites (Worms).
- Selecting and Serving Fresh and Frozen Seafood Safely.
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- Foods To Avoid When Pregnant.