Can I eat sushi while pregnant? For most women, the answer is yes. However, for some, there is more to the story than what you might think. In fact, the health benefits of eating sushi during pregnancy are worth researching.
Sushi is a popular type of Japanese food which consists of cooked rice combined with other ingredients such as seafood, vegetables, or eggs. It is known for its high protein and healthy fat content, along with being a low-calorie meal. However, pregnant women need to be cautious when it comes to eating sushi while expecting because raw fish such as salmon and tuna can cause an infection called listeriosis. This article explains if you can eat sushi while pregnant and what precautions you should take if you do decide to have it.
What is listeriosis?
Listeriosis is a foodborne illness caused by the bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes. It is a rare but serious infection, which can affect pregnant women, newborns, people with weakened immune systems, and the elderly. Symptoms may include fever, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea. Extreme cases may be fatal. Pregnant women are 40 times more likely to get listeriosis than the general public. Eating contaminated food is the most common way to spread listeriosis. The food items which can be contaminated with listeria include unpasteurized (raw) milk, soft cheeses, processed meats, cold deli meats, raw sprouts, raw and undercooked seafood, and unpasteurized fruit juices. Listeria is killed by cooking, and it cannot grow in frozen foods. Listeria is a risk for people with weakened immune systems, such as pregnant women, newborns, people with certain chronic medical conditions, and people taking certain medications.
Eating raw fish while pregnant
The risk-benefit analysis of eating raw fish (sushi) while pregnant does not come out as favorable for the expectant mother as it does for the general population. Raw fish, especially salmon, is a high-risk food for pregnant women. It may contain the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause a serious infection in the fetus, newborn babies, and people with weakened immune systems. Eating cold, smoked, or raw fish while pregnant is not recommended, especially in the first three months of pregnancy when the fetus’ immune system is still under development. If you decide to have raw fish while pregnant, you should avoid salmon and other similarly fatty fish. Instead, go for white fish like cod, haddock, or snapper, as they have much less chance of being contaminated with listeria. When having sushi, make sure it is made of cooked rice and fish, to avoid getting ill.
Can you eat cooked sushi while pregnant?
Yes, you can eat cooked sushi while pregnant. The risk of contracting listeriosis can be lowered by choosing to eat cooked sushi instead of raw fish. However, be aware that all foods pose some risk of infection, and that sushi may be prepared with raw fish. When eating sushi, choose restaurants that use high-quality fish and follow all state and local health codes. Sushi bars that serve raw fish are required to follow strict rules to keep the fish safe. The fish should be freshly cut in an area away from where the cooked fish is handled. The raw fish should be kept on ice or in a refrigerated case, and the sushi chef should clean his hands and work surfaces before preparing sushi.
Safety tips for eating sushi while pregnant
– Be careful with the temperature of the fish – e.g., make sure it is not too hot. – Avoid eating sushi made with raw fish. – Be careful with condiments and sauces used in sushi. – Order cooked sushi – e.g., salmon rolls. – Avoid ordering ceviche and other dishes made with raw or undercooked seafood. – Check the fish is correctly identified. – Avoid eating sushi from street vendors.
How to find out if the sushi is contaminated?
The best way to find out if the sushi is contaminated is to ask the sushi chef how the fish is prepared. If the fish is not cooked, do not have it. You should also check the Health Department report for the sushi restaurant you are eating at. This report will tell you about violations observed during the sushi restaurant inspections. A study has also been performed to test the sushi for bacteria. The participants were asked to eat sushi purchased in a supermarket and observe the hygiene of the preparation. The sushi was checked for the bacteria E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus. The results showed that sushi purchased in supermarkets contain bacteria.
Eating sushi while pregnant can be very risky. Raw fish such as salmon and tuna may contain listeria bacteria, which can cause a serious infection in pregnant women, newborns, and people with weakened immune systems. To reduce the risk of infection, choose cooked sushi made with cooked fish, avoid eating sushi made with raw fish, and go for a restaurant with good hygiene standards. If you must have sushi, be careful about the type and how it is prepared. Remember that sushi is not an essential part of a healthy diet and can be replaced with other nutritious meals.