The Best Fish to Eat During Pregnancy: A Comprehensive Guide

by Ella
Salmon En Papillote

Pregnancy is a crucial time when a woman’s nutritional needs are heightened to support the healthy growth and development of the baby. Fish is a valuable source of essential nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and various vitamins and minerals. However, concerns about mercury and other contaminants in certain fish varieties can lead to confusion about which fish are safe and beneficial during pregnancy. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the best fish options for pregnant women, taking into account their nutritional benefits, potential risks, and ways to ensure a safe and balanced diet during this special time.

The Importance of Fish in Pregnancy:

Fish offers numerous health benefits for both the expectant mother and the developing fetus. Some of the key advantages of consuming fish during pregnancy include:


a) Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are crucial for the healthy development of the baby’s brain and eyes.


b) Protein: Fish is an excellent source of high-quality protein, essential for the growth and repair of tissues in both the mother and baby.


c) Vitamin D: Some fish varieties are rich in vitamin D, which is vital for bone health and immune function.


d) Minerals: Fish provides essential minerals like iron, zinc, and iodine, which play significant roles in various physiological processes.

Fish to Enjoy During Pregnancy:

a) Salmon:
Salmon is one of the best fish choices for pregnant women. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin D, and B-vitamins. Opt for wild-caught salmon to minimize the risk of contaminants.

b) Trout:
Trout is another excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Choose rainbow or brook trout, as they are typically lower in mercury.

c) Herring:
Herring is a small fish with abundant omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. It is a safe and nutritious option for pregnant women.

d) Sardines:
Sardines are packed with omega-3s, calcium, and iron. They are also low in mercury and can be a convenient and sustainable choice.

e) Anchovies:
Anchovies are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and calcium. They are a flavorful addition to salads and pasta dishes.

f) Pollock:
Pollock is a mild-tasting fish that is low in mercury and a good source of lean protein.

Fish to Limit During Pregnancy:

a) Shark:
Shark is high in mercury and should be avoided during pregnancy due to its potential harm to the developing nervous system.

b) Swordfish:
Swordfish is also high in mercury and should be limited or avoided during pregnancy.

c) King Mackerel:
King mackerel contains high levels of mercury and is best avoided during pregnancy.

d) Tilefish:
Tilefish is another fish variety to avoid due to its mercury content, which can be harmful to the baby’s developing brain.

See Also: What Not To Eat When Pregnant: A Food Safety Guideline

Safe Fish Consumption Guidelines:

a) Moderation is Key:
While fish is beneficial during pregnancy, it is essential to consume it in moderation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends eating 2 to 3 servings (8-12 ounces) of low-mercury fish per week.

b) Choose Low-Mercury Options:
Select fish varieties that are low in mercury, such as salmon, trout, and sardines. Refer to the FDA’s guidelines on mercury levels in fish to make informed choices.

c) Avoid Raw Fish and High-Risk Seafood:
Raw fish and high-risk seafood, such as raw sushi and shellfish, should be avoided during pregnancy due to the risk of foodborne illnesses.

d) Cook Fish Thoroughly:
Ensure fish is cooked thoroughly to kill any harmful bacteria or parasites that may be present.

e) Balance with a Variety of Foods:
Incorporate a diverse range of nutrient-rich foods in your diet to meet all your nutritional needs during pregnancy.

FAQs about Fish to Enjoy During Pregnancy

Q1: How often should I include fish in my diet during pregnancy?

A: During pregnancy, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends including 2 to 3 servings (8-12 ounces) of low-mercury fish in your diet per week. These servings can provide essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamins that are beneficial for both the mother and the baby’s development. It is essential to choose fish varieties that are low in mercury to ensure the safety of the baby’s developing nervous system. Pregnant women should also follow safe food handling and cooking practices to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses associated with fish consumption.

Q2: Can I eat sushi or raw fish during pregnancy?

A: It is best to avoid sushi and raw fish during pregnancy. Raw fish can contain harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites that may pose a risk to the health of both the expectant mother and the developing baby. These pathogens can lead to foodborne illnesses, which can be particularly dangerous during pregnancy. To ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy, it is recommended to consume only cooked fish and seafood during this time. Enjoying well-cooked fish options that are low in mercury, such as salmon and trout, can provide essential nutrients without compromising safety.

Q3: Can I take fish oil supplements instead of eating fish during pregnancy?

A: Yes, fish oil supplements can be taken as an alternative to eating fish during pregnancy to obtain essential omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is crucial for the baby’s brain and eye development. However, it’s essential to choose a high-quality, reputable fish oil supplement that is specifically labeled as safe for pregnancy. Pregnant women should consult with their healthcare provider before starting any supplements to determine the appropriate dosage and ensure it complements their overall dietary intake during pregnancy. It is generally recommended to obtain nutrients from whole foods whenever possible, so consuming safe fish varieties in moderation is still beneficial.

Q4: Can I still enjoy seafood dishes at restaurants during pregnancy?

A: Yes, you can enjoy seafood dishes at restaurants during pregnancy, but it’s essential to be cautious about the type of fish and how it is prepared. Stick to safe fish options and avoid raw or high-risk seafood dishes.

Q5: What other protein sources can I include in my diet if I don’t want to eat fish during pregnancy?

A: If you prefer not to eat fish during pregnancy, you can include other protein sources such as lean poultry, eggs, tofu, legumes, and nuts in your diet to ensure you are getting adequate protein intake.


Fish can be an excellent addition to a pregnant woman’s diet, providing essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamins. However, it is crucial to make informed choices and be mindful of mercury levels in fish to ensure a safe and balanced diet during pregnancy. By including low-mercury fish varieties like salmon, trout, and sardines in moderation, pregnant women can reap the health benefits while supporting the optimal development of their growing baby. As always, consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian to create a personalized meal plan that meets individual dietary needs and promotes a healthy pregnancy journey.



Wellfoodrecipes is a professional gourmet portal, the main columns include gourmet recipes, healthy diet, desserts, festival recipes, meat and seafood recipes, etc.

【Contact us: [email protected]

Copyright © 2023