Is It Safe To Eat Sushi While Breastfeeding

Sushi While Breastfeeding

Image: Shutterstock


It’s irresistible. The aroma of vinegared rice, the tickling taste of various sauces, and the toppings of seafood… sushi is a combination of all this. And how can you simply not eat such an appetizing food? Under normal circumstances, you would not think twice before gulping it. But when you are pregnant, you are told to avoid it.

Post-pregnancy, if you are longing to have it back on your meal plate, you need to know if it is good to eat sushi while breastfeeding, how soon you can start eating it and what to watch out for. MomJunction tells you all this and more.

What is Sushi?

Sushi is a food preparation of Japanese origin. It is cooked vinegared rice containing ingredients such as raw seafood, vegetables, and topical fruits. The ingredients vary widely but all sushi forms have rice (white or brown rice) as the base ingredient. The delicacy is often prepared with raw fish.

Since Sushi is a dish with many ingredients, it is highly nutritional. For instance, it has:

  • Seaweed wrapper Nori, which is rich in iodine.
  • Ginger and wasabi (1) contain antioxidant compounds, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Seafood contains high levels of omega-3 acids and seleium.
  • Different fish types contain different vitamins and minerals.
  • Soy sauce contains high levels of sodium.

Note: Sashimi is also a Japanese delicacy that has thinly sliced raw fish and may or may not be served with rice. It is commonly mistaken for sushi.

[ Read: Is It Safe To Consume Fish While Breastfeeding ]

Is It Safe To Eat Sushi While Breastfeeding?

Yes, in most cases it is safe to have sushi while nursing. During pregnancy, you are advised to avoid sushi because of the presence of bacteria and parasites in raw fish that could harm the fetus. But, they would not pose a risk to your baby while breastfeeding. In fact, fish is an excellent source of vitamin D, niacin, and omega-3s, all of which are beneficial to your little one and you too.

However, it is advisable to speak with your doctor to find out if you can eat sushi during breastfeeding. As a new mom, it is important to make sure that whatever you eat has your doctor’s approval.

[ Read: Is Seafood Safe While Breastfeeding ]

Precautions To Take Before Eating Sushi While Breastfeeding

Sushi is considered as raw food that has the risk of carrying food-borne bacteria such as listeria and e.coli. Listeria is a bacteria found in soil, water and plants. It may cause illness if consumed through food. So, always be careful on what, where, and how much you eat.

Avoid cooked or raw fish with high mercury levels as they may damage the baby’s nervous system.

Avoid eating swordfish, shark, tilefish, Yellowtail, and mackerel. Do not consume more than six ounces of white or albacore tuna per week.

The US Natural Resources Defense Council has a list common sushi fish with their respective mercury levels.

Enjoy these fishEat six servings or less per monthEat three servings or less per monthAvoid eating
AnchoviesBass (Saltwater, Striped, Black)Croaker (White Pacific)Bluefish
ButterfishBuffalofishHalibut (Atlantic, Pacific)Grouper
CatfishCarpMackerel (Spanish, Gulf)Mackerel (King)
ClamCod (Alaskan)Perch (Ocean)Marlin
Crab (Domestic)LobsterSablefishOrange Roughy
Crawfish/CrayfishMahi MahiSea Bass (Chilean)Shark
Croaker (Atlantic)MonkfishTuna (Albacore, Yellowfin)Swordfish
FlounderPerch (Freshwater)Tuna
(Bigeye, Ahi)
Haddock (Atlantic)Sheepshead
Jacksmelt (Silverside)Tilefish (Atlantic)
(N. Atlantic, Chub)
Tuna (Canned chunk light, Skipjack)
Salmon (Canned)
Salmon (Fresh)
Sole (Pacific)
Squid (Calamari)
Trout (Freshwater)


Also, be careful about where you are eating, as there is a strong possibility of cross-contamination at a few restaurants. You could fall sick if the fish is not properly cleaned.

[ Read: Foods To Avoid While Breastfeeding ]

Tips To Follow While Having Sushi

In addition to taking precaution, follow a few tips to avoid the food contamination while eating sushi while nursing.

  • Practice safe handling techniques: Clean all the surfaces used in converting the raw food to ready-to-eat food, with anti-bacterial solvent.
  • Wash your hands before and after touching raw fish or meat.
  • Keep an eye on the date and time of refrigerated items. Keep the refrigerator clean. Always maintain the temperature of the fridge at 40F or below.
  • Make sure that the restaurant you are eating in or ordering sushi from, is a hygienic place. Eat from a known place so that you will have fewer chances of picking stomach bugs.
  • If you want to eat salmon and your doctor has approved it, eat wild or organically grown variety.
  • If you wish to go for canned tuna with your doctor’s nod, go for the chunk light variety instead of the solid albacore. The former has fewer traces of mercury than the latter.

10 Best Sushi Recipes For Breastfeeding Moms

Cook sushi at home to be sure of its quality. We will help you in that with the following recipes:

1. Simple Sushi Without Mat

Simple sushi without mat

Image: iStock

Preparation time: 50 minutes

You will need:

  • 1 cup sushi rice or white rice (cooked)
  • 2 cups water
  • 3tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2tbsp sugar
  • salt for taste
  • 4 sheets nori/dried seaweed
  • 1 cup chopped vegetables (carrots, red pepper, avocado, cucumbers)
  • Soy sauce pickled ginger and wasabi

How to:

  1. Put vinegar, sugar and salt in a pan and heat on medium flame. Keep stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
  2. Transfer the mix into a dish and refrigerate to cool down.
  3. Add the vinegar mix to the cooked rice. Mix thoroughly. Keep aside.
  4. Take a thick clean towel and fold it in a rectangular shape. Keep it on a clean surface.
  5. Place plastic wrap on the towel and a nori sheet on the wrap.
  6. Pat a fine layer of rice on the sheet. It should not be a thick layer.
  7. Arrange a single layer of chopped vegetables.
  8. Start rolling the nori sheet firmly with your fingers.
  9. Roll over the plastic wrap and even the towel to compress the roll.
  10. Use a sharp knife to slice the rolls and set it aside.
  11. Serve the sushi immediately along with a dash of wasabi, pickled ginger and the soy sauce.

[ Read: Can You Eat Shellfish While Breastfeeding ]

2. Salmon Nigiri Sushi

Salmon nigiri sushi

Image: Shutterstock

Preparation time: 30 minutes

You will need:

  • 1lb (454g) bluefin tuna
  • 1lb Atlantic salmon
  • 1lb fresh scallops
  • 1lb Seabass
  • Wasabi
  • 1 cup (250ml) sushi rice

How to:

  1. Cut salmon into pieces of about 20g each.
  2. Make an oblong ball with the rice.
  3. Place the fish slice on the fingertips of your left hand. Spread wasabi on it and put on the rice.
  4. Fold the edges of the salmon to make it fit on the top of the rice ball.

3. California Roll

California roll

Image: Shutterstock

Preparation time: 45 minutes

You will need:

  • 2/3 cup sushi rice
  • 1 nori sheet
  • 6 sticks Surimi (Imitation crab)
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 1tsp Masago or sesame seeds

How to:

  1. Wrap a bamboo mat with plastic wrap. Spread a nori sheet on the mat with shiny side downwards.
  2. Spread sushi rice over the nori. Top it with a spoon full of masago or sesame seeds and spread evenly.
  3. Flip the nori. Line the crab sticks along the near end.
  4. Line up slices of avocado next to the crab sticks.
  5. Just roll it inside out. Cut into equal parts.

4. Spicy Tuna Roll

Spicy tuna roll

Image: Shutterstock

Preparation time: 45 minutes

You will need:

  • 1tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1tsp lemon juice (fresh)
  • 1tsp chilli sauce
  • 1/2tsp sesame oil
  • 1 nori sheet
  • 2/3 cup sushi rice
  • 1/2 avocado
  • spicy mayo soaked tuna dices

How to:

  1. Mix the first four ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate.
  2. Break the nori into two. Place one half on a bamboo sheet with the rough side facing up.
  3. Make a ball from a handful of sushi rice and place it on the sheet. Now spread it evenly.
  4. Flip the nori and load it with thick slices of avocado, add the spicy mayo soaked tuna dices.
  5. Close the bamboo mat on the top.
  6. Tighten from the center to sides. Push the mat in a rolling motion.
  7. Cut the roll into pieces with a sharp knife.

[ Read: Best Foods For Breastfeeding Moms ]

5. Vegetarian Sushi Rolls

Vegetarian sushi rolls

Image: iStock

Preparation time: 40 minutes

You will need:

  • 1 1/4 cups cooked sushi rice
  • 1tsp unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 sheet toasted nori seaweed (18 by 20 cm)
  • 1tbsp sesame seeds (toasted)
  • 1/4 English cucumber (peeled and cut)
  • 1/2 carrot (peeled and cut)
  • 1/4 ripe avocado (thin slices)
  • soy sauce and pickled ginger (optional)

How to:

  1. Mix two tablespoons water and vinegar in a bowl.
  2. Spread a bamboo sushi mat and place a nori sheet on it. Keep the shiny side down.
  3. Spread cooled rice evenly. Sprinkle sesame seeds over it.
  4. Now arrange carrot and cucumber sticks, and avocado slices across the rice.
  5. Lift the mat, nori, and rice over the filling and seal it inside. Roll into a tight cylinder.
  6. Use the vinegar-water mixture to moisten the nori’s outer edge and seal the roll.
  7. Cut the roll in half crosswise, and make each one into four equal pieces.

6. Egg And Pesto Sushi

Egg and pesto sushi

Image: Shutterstock

Preparation time: 50 minutes

You will need:

  • 6 eggs
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups glutinous white rice (cooked)
  • 6 sheets nori (dry seaweed)
  • salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto

How to:

  1. Heat a skillet on medium flame, add cooking spray.
  2. Pour in the beaten eggs. Allow them to cook. Sprinkle salt and pepper.
  3. Lay a nori sheet on a sushi mat or clean surface.
  4. Spread a cooled rice layer onto the sheet. Apply a line of pesto across the edges.
  5. Top it with a line of the egg.
  6. Roll the nori sheet over the pesto egg and rice.
  7. Wet the end to seal and cut into pieces.

[ Read: Ways To Control Food Cravings While Breastfeeding ]

7. Mexican Sushi

Mexican sushi

Image: Shutterstock

Preparation time: 50 minutes

You will need:

  • 1 large plain flour tortilla
  • 1 large spinach-flavored tortilla
  • 1 tomato-flavored tortilla
  • 3 ounce cream cheese (low-fat, softened)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chipotle in adobo (seeded, chopped)
  • 3/4 cup black beans (low-fat refried)
  • 1 1/2 avocados from Mexico (peeled, pitted, diced)
  • 6tbsp pico de gallo salsa
  • 3/4 cup cilantro leaves (chopped)

How to:

  1. Combine chipotle and cream cheese.
  2. Heat tortillas in the oven and spread each one with cheese, beans, and salsa.
  3. Scatter cilantro and avocado on each tortilla.
  4. Tightly roll up tortillas. Then wrap them in plastic covers and refrigerate.
  5. Unwrap, cut into pieces and serve.

8. Kimbop (Korean Sushi)

Kimbop (Korean sushi)

Image: iStock

Preparation time: 60 minutes

You will need:

  • 1tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • salt
  • 1 cup uncooked glutinous white rice (sushi rice) (cooked)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cucumber, cut into thin strips
  • 4 sheets sushi nori
  • 4 slices American processed cheese (cut in thin strips)
  • 1 carrot (cut into thin layers)
  • 2tsp sesame oil
  • 4 slices ham (cooked and cut)

How to:

  1. Spread and cool cooked rice on a baking sheet.
  2. Sprinkle salt and sesame oil.
  3. Meanwhile, place a skillet on medium flame and pour in eggs. Cook for a while.
  4. Place the nori sheet on a flat surface.
  5. On each sheet, leave a half-inch strip of seaweed. Divide the cooled rice between them.
  6. Arrange the egg strips, carrot, cucumber, cheese, and ham on the top of the rice.
  7. To firmly roll each piece into a cylinder, use a bamboo sushi mat.
  8. Brush 1/2tsp sesame oil on each roll and cut into pieces.

[ Read: Food Poisoning While Breastfeeding ]

9. Buffalo Chicken Sushi Roll

Buffalo chicken sushi roll

Image: Shutterstock

Preparation time: 25 min

You will need:

  • 4 sheets nori
  • 1/4 cup hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 pound breaded chicken breast tenderloins (cooked)
  • 4 cups sushi rice (cooked)
  • 1 celery stalk, cut
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into 4-inch matchsticks
  • French-fried onions (optional)
  • spicy mayonnaise (optional)

How to:

  1. Take a bowl and combine hot sauce and chicken. Toss to coat.
  2. Place a nori sheet onto a bamboo mat and spread rice on it. (Leave half-inch strip on the edge)
  3. Arrange chicken, celery, and carrot in that space left.
  4. Roll the mat tightly around the ingredients. Moisten the edges to seal.
  5. Cut the roll into pieces with a sharp knife.

10. Chakin Sushi

Chakin sushi

Image: Shutterstock

Preparation time: 55 minutes

You will need:

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup sushi rice (cooked)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 3tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2tbsp sugar
  • 2tbsp black sesame seeds
  • 6 sprigs Italian parsley (long stems)

How to:

  1. Beat eggs together with salt in a bowl.
  2. Take a skillet and brush with vegetable oil. Put it on medium flame.
  3. Pour in the egg and let it cook. Flip over and cook for some more time.
  4. Combine sugar, vinegar, and salt in another bowl and microwave for a few seconds.
  5. Fold sesame seeds and vinegar into warm rice.
  6. Place a spoonful of rice on each egg sheet.
  7. Fold the sheet into a square. Use an Italian parsley to tie it secure.

Sushi is a safe dish to have during breastfeeding, as long as it is carefully prepared. If you are not sure of having raw fish, making the transition to vegetarian sushi is a great fix. A topping with ginger and wasabi will add to the flavor.

Hope our post is useful for a sushi lover like you. Share your experiences of having sushi when breastfeeding, with other mommies!

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