For many decades now, there have been many debates as to whether or not eating sushi is safe for pregnant women. Some types of fish may have high contents of mercury which can be fatal to a pregnant woman as well as to her unborn baby. Aside from this, raw fish that are used in making sushi are at a risk of containing parasites and pathogens that can be equally dangerous to women who are pregnant.
On the other hand, fish that are used in sushi can be an excellent source of essential and healthy oils that can be extremely beneficial to the soon to be moms and the babies they are carrying. In Japan, many pregnant women still continue eating sushi because of the nutrients it can give. Moreover, sushi can be advantageous for those who are aiming for a low fat diet.
Should eating sushi be avoided altogether during pregnancy? A report from the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine in 1991 stated that the dangers such as bacteria and viruses accumulated from seafood are usually caused not by the seafood or fish itself, but by the way seafood are handled (cooked or frozen) and prepared for human consumption. Therefore, if the sushi is prepared and preserved the right way before being consumed, there can be little to no risk of acquiring illnesses.
What should be taken into consideration before regarding a particular sushi as ‘safe to eat’? Raw fish may possibly be contaminated by some worms or eggs that can cause sickness to the pregnant woman and her foetus, so make sure that the fish included in the sushi was well frozen (around four days) for these worms and eggs to be eliminated. However, other studies suggest that although proper freezing of fish at desired temperatures will get rid of some unwanted parasites, merely doing so will not be enough to totally make the fish safe for consumption. Uncooked or undercooked seafood can still contain organisms that have unwanted bacteria and viruses that may lead to diseases such as Hepatitis A or other intestinal diseases. Other painful symptoms that may be obtained from eating raw fish or seafood include vomiting, nausea, extreme pain in the abdomen, and diarrhoea. It will always be safer to choose to eat cooked fish. It is recommended to only eat seafood or fish cooked thoroughly to 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
What are the other risks of eating sushi while pregnant? Aside from choosing cooked fish over uncooked ones, pregnant women should also avoid eating fish with high mercury content. Having excessive levels of mercury (or more specifically, methylmercury found in different types of fish), can cause harm to a person’s internal organs such as heart, kidney, and lungs and can also have a negative effect on the immune system.
Some of the types of fish pregnant women should refrain from eating that have high levels of mercury are fresh tuna, swordfish, mackerel, as well as shark. If you’re looking for fish types with low mercury levels, salmon is an excellent choice.
Natural fish oils that can be gained from the fish ingredient of sushi can be extremely profitable to a baby’s brain development. Pregnant women should not deprive their unborn child of this important nutrient.
In conclusion, the risks of getting sick because of eating sushi will greatly depend on the pregnant women’s level of precaution. If you’re pregnant and you want to eat sushi, just be extra careful. Always make sure that you eat in a reputable, sanitary sushi restaurant. Choose cooked fish over raw or undercooked. Know your sushi – or at least know the types you should avoid. After all, sushi has been a part of Japanese diet – even for pregnant women – for many centuries now, and yet Japan is currently one of the countries with the healthiest babies in the world.