Can you eat oysters while pregnant? We take a look at the risks and benefits of chowing down on this often misunderstood shellfish.
There’s loads of advice for mamas-to-be on foods to avoid during pregnancy.
And shellfish can have a dodgy rep at the best of times.
So if you love oysters — or you’ve developed a brand new craving — what do you do?
Can you eat oysters while pregnant?
We’ll find out what’s in oysters, both good and bad.
And we’ll discover how you can enjoy them while keeping both you and your little peanut safe and well.
In this article 📝
- Why avoid some foods while pregnant?
- Can you eat raw oysters during pregnancy?
- Can you eat cooked oysters while pregnant?
- Can you eat oysters while pregnant? The bottom line
Why avoid some foods while pregnant?
The main reason to avoid certain foods while pregnant is connected to your immune system — and to your baby’s.
Scientists used to believe that women’s immune systems got weaker during pregnancy.
They thought a growing baby was like a transplanted organ.
It was something new that the mother’s body might reject unless the immune system took a chill pill.
But newer research has suggested that’s not quite right.
Instead, the immune system goes through complex changes over this time.
In fact, some immune responses get stronger during pregnancy.
And that’s not always a fun experience!
If you get a cold while pregnant, for example, you’ll probably have stronger symptoms.
That’s because your body is working extra hard to get rid of the virus, sneezing and sweating it out.
It’s the same if you pick up a bug from your food.
Your body will go into overdrive to get rid of it fast.
And we don’t need to spell out what that means!
It’s a different story for your baby, though.
Their immune system is still developing, so it can’t handle the same challenges.
As a result, food-borne bacteria can have far more serious consequences.
So, where does that leave oysters?
Oysters contain bacteria.
But they also contain nutrients that support your baby’s growth and development.
These include protein, omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, iron, and potassium.
So does that mean you should avoid them or enjoy them during pregnancy?
Well, it’s complicated.
And the key to managing the risks while still enjoying the benefits is good food hygiene and preparation.
Can you eat raw oysters during pregnancy?
Unfortunately, that’s not a good idea.
They’re a haven for bacteria like listeria, which can lead to conditions like listeriosis.
These can have severe and even fatal consequences for your baby.
And sadly, the same goes for smoked oysters.
These may not have been smoked at high enough temperatures to kill bacteria.
Can you eat cooked oysters while pregnant?
And now for the good news — yes, you can eat oysters while pregnant, as long as they’re properly cooked. 🎉
So, if you’re eating out, check with the chef that your oysters have been thoroughly cooked through.
And take a look at them before you tuck in.
They should have firm, milky-white flesh.
Cooking them yourself is a good option too. Here are a few tips for safe prep:
- Keep the oysters covered and separate from other foods when you buy them.
- Make sure they’re fresh, with closed shells. Don’t cook any with open shells.
- Refrigerate them as soon as you get home, and eat them the same day.
- Use a clean chopping board to prepare them.
- To cook, boil them first for between three and five minutes. Then fry or broil for about three minutes, or bake for ten minutes. Make sure the flesh is firm and white before serving.
- Disinfect surfaces and wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw oysters
Can you eat oysters while pregnant? The bottom line
There’s no reason to avoid oysters during pregnancy, as long as they’re thoroughly cooked.
They contain lots of nutrients that are good for you and your baby.
So if you’re craving their salty goodness, you don’t need to deny yourself.
Just take a few precautions to make sure there are no nasty bacteria before you enjoy them.
And if you’re in the mood for more seafood, we’ve got the lowdown on healthy options while you’re expecting.
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