Pregnant women are often told to avoid seafood because some types bear high levels of mercury and other substances considered unsafe for unborn babies. However, not all types of seafood have these risk factors. You can enjoy seafood in moderation while pregnant, and you’ll actually see several health benefits for both mom and baby. Here are three benefits to eating seafood while pregnant.
Studies conducted by U.S. and British scientists show that mothers who consumed fish several times per week during pregnancy bore children with better cognitive skills. The studies involved sending questionnaires to over 10,000 pregnant women about their eating habits and then following up to track the long-term effects of their diets on their children.
Pregnant women were placed into three categories: those who consumed little to no seafood during pregnancy, those who consumed some seafood during pregnancy, and those who ate seafood several times per week. Women who ate little to no seafood during pregnancy had children with a greater chance of scoring in the bottom 25 percent of their group for verbal intelligence by age eight.
Greater Benefits From Protein and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
People who eat a lot of seafood are generally healthier than people who do not, and this is true for pregnant women as well. Many believe the reason is the high levels of protein and omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood. These crucial nutrients promote brain and muscle development, which also transfers to the bloodstream to benefit both you and your baby. Additionally, seafood has lower fat and carbohydrate levels than other types of meat.
It’s important to note that not all seafood contains the same amount of benefit during pregnancy. For instance, the Environmental Protection Agency still recommends that pregnant women avoid swordfish, king mackerel, shark, and tilefish. These types of seafood have high levels of mercury. The mercury doesn’t typically have negative effects for adults, but there is concern that it can harm a baby’s development.
Seafood Prevents Disease
Seafood is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, but the health benefits do not end there. Seafood is full of nutrients that prevent disease in both pregnant women and their unborn children. It’s fine to eat some lobster, tuna, salmon, shrimp, and most big fish in moderation. Here’s a list of diseases where consuming seafood can offer benefits:
- Alzheimer’s disease, especially early onset
- Heart disease
- Skin and hair problems like acne and poor hair growth
- Depression in women and children
- Reproductive health, such as sperm mobility and egg quality
Countless studies have shown the benefits of consuming more seafood. As an excellent source of nutrients for pregnant women, only certain types of seafood need to be avoided.
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with eating seafood while you’re pregnant as long as you avoid varieties with high levels of mercury. Go ahead and enjoy your tuna, salmon, and even lobster, which you can conveniently order online too. You’ll enjoy the health benefits that seafood offers and your unborn child will, as well.