Sushi While Pregnant?

Can I eat Sushi while pregnant?

First precaution your doctor gives you when he/she confirms your pregnancy is “Avoid all raw food, including sushi”. You didn’t wanna hear that did you? The reason doctors ask you not to eat sushi or raw food is because they are concerned about a bacteria called Toxoplasma gondii or Listeria monocytogens that lives in raw food . It is always there and you usually wouldn’t get infected by it. However, when you are pregnant you’re regular immunity is down and you cannot fight the bacteria the same way you would if you were not pregnant putting you at an increased risk of infection. The infection by any of those 2 bacterias could have severe consequences on you and your baby. This much is clear.

Technically however it is not right to be advised “against eating sushi”. There are several tyoes of rolls that you can safely consume that do not even contain any raw food in them.The key is to pinpoint which sushi items do not contain raw seafood. Which you can easily tell by looking at the ingredients list in the menu. I will read for you sushi items from the menu of “Sumo Sushi and Bento” a japanese resturaunt in Dubai.

California roll: Avocado, crabstick, cucumber, and mayo rolled inside out with sesame seed. Safe

Crunchy philly roll: Smoked salmon and cream cheese rolled lightly in crispy tempura. Safe

Crunchy cali roll: California roll topped with crunchy tempura. Safe

Green dragon roll: Crispy shrimp tempura roll covered in a thin layer of avocado served with teryaki sauce. Safe

Crunchy crazy roll: Shrimp tempura roll ccovered with sweet chili sauce and drizzled with our homemade teryaki sauce. Safe

Sumo fotumaki roll: Thick sushi rolls filled with crabstick,avocado, and cucumber. Wrapped in seaweed. Safe

Tobiko is a usually safe as it is usually pasteurized and bacteria is killed through the storage method usually used such as soy sauce. However, it is still best to avoid eating tobikko when in doubt

Alaska roll: smoked salmon, crab stick, and avocado mixed with mayo, covered with tobiko. Caution.




How about Nigiri? It depends on what is the fish used.

Kani Nigiri: Steamed crab. Safe

Tako Nigiri: which is steamed octopus. Safe

Unagi Nigiri: Grilled fresh water eel. Safe

Ebi nigiri: lightly cooked shrimp. Safe

As you can see, those are actually 12 items that you can enjoy safely at this particular resturaunt. In other resturaunts you can also check the menu ingredients and double check with the staff and chef that the roll does not have any raw ingredients. In Lebanon ”sushi bar” has a maternity friendly menu that pin points which sushi rolls are safe.

Guidelines when eating sushi at a resturaunt:

Inform your waiter/waitress that you are pregnant and avoiding all raw seafood. Some unprofessional and informed servers may tell you you can not eat the sushi at all since you are pregnant. Ask for a clarification of the ingredients and have the waiter/waitress double check with the chef.

Ask the waitress to get it tobiko free, and seperate your sushi order from the rest.

Concerned about mercury?

No need to, all the above mentioned food items are on the low mercury list. Just don’t have sushi/fish for a meal more than twice a week.

The data for this guide to mercury in fish comes from two federal agencies: the Food and Drug Administration, which tests fish for mercury, and the Environmental Protection Agency, which determines mercury levels that it considers safe for women of childbearing age.

“Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding consume at least 8 and up to 12 ounces of a variety of seafood per week, from choices lower in methyl mercury.”- Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.

This means you SHOULD have seafood as it contains omega-3 (DHA and EPA) which do wonders for you and for your baby’s brain(among a long list of benefits such as protection from heart disease and cancer protection). In addition, fish is high in protein and low in calories. Don’t be scared or concerned, just go for it.


Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010

FDA: What you need to know about mercury in fish and shellfish

EPA press release 2014