Expecting a baby comes with many changes, and with that change comes the need to make sure you’re providing your body with all the necessary nutrition to support your growing baby. One of the most important portions of a pregnancy diet is seafood, which can provide essential fatty acids, protein and other beneficial vitamins and minerals. But is canned tuna safe to eat while pregnant? In this blog post, we’ll explore the potential risks and benefits of eating canned tuna during pregnancy, so that expectant mothers can make an informed decision about what to include in their diet. From potential contaminants to nutritional value, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the safety of eating canned tuna for expecting mothers.
What Happens if You Eat Too Much Tuna When Pregnant?
If you unintentionally consume too much tuna in a week, there is no need to feel anxious or alarmed. When consumed in moderation, there is nothing hazardous about tuna on its own. Keep in mind that fish is a wonderful, nutritious, and healthful food to eat while pregnant.
You are trying to prevent the cumulative effects of mercury buildup in the bloodstream when you limit your tuna intake. If you believe you may have consumed too much tuna, limit it the following week and then stick to the recommendations going forward.
High levels of mercury in the bloodstream can negatively affect the baby’s brain development and nervous system (source: Mayo Clinic). However, if you stick to the recommended guidelines, you’ll be getting all the nutritional benefits of fish, whilst keeping to a safe level of mercury.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Raw (or Seared) Tuna?
Sushi options for raw tuna include tuna tataki, sashimi, nigiri, and rolls. Raw tuna can also be found in dishes like poke or tuna tartare.
In the USA, the FDA recommends that pregnant women should avoid raw fish consumption such as sushi, and that includes tuna (source: FDA). The advice is the same in Australia and New Zealand (source: NSW Food Authority). In Canada, it’s a similar story – raw fish is on the ‘do not eat’ list (source: BCCDC).
In the UK, pregnant women are told that they can eat raw fish, so long as it’s been previously frozen, as this kills parasitic worms that may be in the fish (source: NHS).
Although the majority of tuna fish used to make sushi is frozen to eliminate these parasites, this doesn’t eliminate bacteria, so you need to be somewhat cautious about where you get your sushi or make it yourself.
Keep in mind that unless you ask what species it is, the tuna used in sushi is difficult to identify. Some cheaper tuna sushi may use higher-mercury fish. It’s much safer to consume fully cooked or vegetarian sushi while pregnant (such as sushi made with canned tuna, cooked salmon, or fish).
Generally speaking, if you’re being extremely careful, stay away from raw tuna and choose something cooked instead, or a lower-mercury fish.
The bottom line is that tuna is safe to eat, but just in moderation. Healthline states that pregnant parents should eat no more than 12 ounces of canned tuna (usually skipjack) or 4 ounces of albacore tuna per week. Pregnant parents are also encouraged to avoid tuna varieties that tend to have higher mercury levels like yellowfin, bluefin, and bigeye tuna, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
However, while tuna may contain mercury, its also full of nutrients that can be vital during pregnancy. The FDA reveals that the fish is a great source of vitamin B12, vitamin D, selenium, iron, and zinc, which can strengthen immune health. Additionally, the National Center for Biotechnology Information also stresses the importance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (typically found in fish like tuna) as a means of supporting brain and spinal cord development, along with preventing prenatal depression for parents. So, can expecting parents expect to eat or avoid tuna?
According to What to Expect, eating fish with lower mercury levels, such as cod, salmon, and crab, can also be a source of essential nutrients. However, if pregnancy cravings call for tuna salad, know that it will be safe for both you and the unborn child as long as you don’t overindulge.
While there are obvious benefits to consuming tuna, because it may contain level of mercury, this can make it hard to understand whether the pros outweigh the cons for pregnant people. Although the Cleveland Clinic warns against eating all raw or undercooked fish and seafood due to the risk of a listeria infection, that doesnt mean that cooked fish should be completely shunned.
Its common knowledge that certain foods should be avoided during pregnancy, namely those that risk foodborne illness: unpasteurized cheese, cold cuts, and raw eggs. But, another thing that parents should be weary of are foods with high mercury levels, which can be common in fish and seafood. A compound that can cause serious cognitive impairment, consuming excess amounts of mercury can lead to fetal brain damage, plus vision and hearing impairments, reports March of Dimes.