Can pregnant women eat tuna? Sure, you can! You just need to be careful about what type of tuna and how much of it you eat. While there are many kinds of seafood you can eat with abandon while pregnant, tuna is not really one of them.
So, you just need to be sure about what precisely you’re eating. Don’t worry, we’ve got the facts you need. Here, we’ll let you in on all the details of eating tuna when pregnant.
In this article: 📝
- What fish should be avoided during pregnancy?
- Why limit tuna while pregnant?
- Can tuna cause birth defects?
- Can pregnant women eat tuna? Final thoughts
What fish should be avoided during pregnancy?
Fish often tops the list of foods to avoid while pregnant. But while there’s some fish that’s best to steer clear of, it’s not as bad as you might think. Lots of fish are totally a-okay.
Seafood you can eat while pregnant:
- Cooked, smoked, or frozen seafood that’s low in mercury. This contains most shellfish and seafood.
Seafood you should avoid:
- Raw shellfish. These guys can have lots of bacteria and viruses in them (think food poisoning), which are otherwise killed by cooking.
- Fish high in mercury. The biggest fish, like shark, marlin, and swordfish, are all high in mercury, which can affect your baby’s health. Bigeye tuna is in this category too.
Seafood you should limit:
- Oily fish, like sardines, mackerel, salmon, or trout. These fish can contain pollutants, which can be harmful in too large quantities, so keep it to two portions a week.
- Tuna. Here it is. You don’t need to avoid it completely, but limiting it is recommended. Doctors say 140 grams (about 5 oz) a week. It’s best if it is thoroughly cooked.
Why limit tuna while pregnant?
The big concern about eating seafood while pregnant is mercury, a mineral that’s found in all sorts of foods, but most commonly in seafood. The good news is that mercury levels are actually low in most fish. It’s only in the bigger ones – those like shark, marlin, and swordfish – that mercury becomes a problem.
The thing is that tuna is not high in mercury, but it is not low in it either. But as the Food and Drug Administration makes clear in their list of mercury levels in fish, it really depends which tuna you eat:
- Bigeye tuna is pretty high in mercury and should be avoided.
- All other types of tuna – including skipjack, albacore, and yellowfin – should be limited to 140 grams (about 5 oz) a week.
- Can you eat canned tuna while pregnant? Yes, you can – as long as it is not bigeye tuna.
- Can I have Subway tuna while pregnant? Subway’s tuna sandwiches are made from fully cooked tuna, so yes, you can eat these. But keep it to one or two sandwiches a week.
- Can pregnant women eat raw tuna? It’s generally not recommended, as raw fish can harbor nasty bacteria and viruses. However, if it is frozen first, it is generally okay.
Can tuna cause birth defects?
If you follow our guidelines above, you don’t need to be concerned about tuna and birth differences. (We prefer this term to “birth defects”.)
In high quantities, mercury can cause premature births, low birth weights, and birth differences. But you’ll need to eat a lot of it for that to happen. Steer clear of the high-mercury fish – and keep tuna to below 140 grams a week – and you’ll be fine.
Can pregnant women eat tuna? Final thoughts
Yes, pregnant women can eat tuna. Just make sure it’s well-cooked or pre-frozen, limit it to 140 grams a week, and avoid bigeye tuna.
Remember though, if it makes you feel more comfortable to avoid tuna, you can skip it completely. Ultimately, it’s up to you.
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