Sushi, Sashimi and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

Are you a sushi lover who’s recently found out that you’re pregnant? Congratulations! And do you have huge cravings for sushi or sashimi during your pregnancy? No worries, you’re not alone! However, as a pregnant woman, you need to be careful about what you eat. But you might be wondering: is it safe to indulge in sushi and sashimi during pregnancy?

Sushi is a beloved Japanese cuisine enjoyed by people all over the world. Raw fish, which is commonly used in sushi, can carry harmful bacteria and parasites that can be dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn babies. Therefore, I am frequently asked which sushi is appropriate to eat when you are expecting a baby. In this article, I’ll take a closer look at what sushi pregnant women should absolutely not eat, why pregnant women should avoid sashimi, and which sushi options are safe to eat.  There are far more than you think! Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or have medical training, so if in doubt, always ask your doctor for advice.

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SUSHI, SASHIMI AND PREGNANCY WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

What sushi should women during pregnancy avoid?

As an expecting mother, you may wonder whether you can indulge in your favorite sushi rolls or should avoid them altogether. Pregnant women should avoid all types of raw or undercooked seafood, including raw fish sushi (such as tuna, salmon and eel), sashimi, and ceviche. These foods can be contaminated with bacteria and parasites, such as listeria, salmonella, and Vibrio, which can cause food poisoning and other serious illnesses.

Pregnant women should also avoid eating certain types of sushi that may contain high levels of mercury and harmful bacteria. Fish such as swordfish, marlin, shark, and king mackerel should be avoided, as they contain high levels of mercury that can harm the developing nervous system of the fetus. 

As a precaution, it is also advised not to eat seafood such as shrimp, lobster and crab. For example, shrimp may contain substances such as mercury and dioxin, which can be harmful to your unborn baby.

Avoid sashimi when you are pregnant

Why sashimi should be avoided during pregnancy:

Sashimi is a type of Japanese dish that consists of thinly sliced raw fish made from fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel, typically served with soy sauce and wasabi. While sashimi may be delicious, it is not safe for pregnant women to eat. Raw fish can contain harmful bacteria and parasites that can cause infections and illnesses, such as listeria, salmonella, and anisakiasis. Anisakiasis is a parasitic infection that can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. 

Additionally, sashimi is not cooked, which means any harmful bacteria or parasites present in the fish are not eliminated during the cooking process. So sashimi is a big no no when you are pregnant. 

Can you eat sushi while pregnant?

The answer is yes, you can eat sushi while pregnant, as long as you choose cooked or fully cooked options, and avoid raw fish and high-mercury fish. It’s also a good idea to choose sushi restaurants that have a good reputation for cleanliness and food safety, and to always wash your hands before eating. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian if you have any concerns about your diet during pregnancy. They can help you create a healthy meal plan that includes all the nutrients you and your baby need. There are numerous ingredients from which to make delicious sushi that are safe to consume while pregnant. 

Tomago
Making Tomago, sweet Japanese omelet

Safe sushi ingredients for pregnant women

Now that we’ve covered what sushi and sashimi pregnant women should avoid, let’s move on to the good news: there are still plenty of delicious and safe sushi options that pregnant women can enjoy. So if you’re pregnant and craving sushi, there are still many delicious and safe options to choose from. Sushi rolls that contain surimi are safe to eat when properly prepared. Other safe ingredients  are mushrooms like shiitake, and that sweet tasty Japanese omelet (Tomago).

Vegetarian sushi is also a great option for pregnant women, as it is free from raw fish and other ingredients that may be harmful. Try sushi rolls made with avocado, cucumber, mango and wakame seaweed. Additionally, sushi rolls that contain cooked meats, such as chicken or beef, are safe for pregnant women. 

SUSHI, SASHIMI AND PREGNANCY WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Is it safe to eat sushi with smoked salmon while pregnant?

Cooked salmon or smoked salmon are great options for sushi, as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are important for fetal development.  But only use ‘hot smoked salmon’, not ‘cold smoked salmon’. The smoked salmon must be heated above 75 degrees Celsius or 165 Fahrenheit for several minutes AND must be super fresh. Definitely do not use the pre-packaged smoked salmon from the supermarket, but use only the best smoked salmon from a fish specialist. Canned smoked salmon, which is commonly found on supermarket or shop shelves, is also safe to consume during pregnancy. This is due to the fact that the canning process necessitates pasteurization, or heat treatment at temperatures high enough to kill bacteria.

Safe sushi rolls for pregnant women

If you’re a sushi lover and you’re pregnant, you don’t have to give up sushi altogether. Here are some safe sushi rolls that you can enjoy:

  • Philadelphia Roll: Try to make one with hot smoked salmon, cream cheese, and cucumber. Delicious!
  • Uramaki Chicken Teryaki: Grilled chicken with sweet teryaki sauce.
  • Vegetable Maki Rolls: These rolls are made with a variety of fresh vegetables such as cucumber, avocado, carrot, and bell pepper, making it a healthy and delicious option for pregnant women.
  • Surimi Tempura Roll: This roll is made with surimi that has been battered and deep-fried, making it safe for pregnant women to eat.
  • Salmon Roll: Made with cooked salmon, cucumber, and avocado.
  • Inari Roll: This roll is made with seasoned tofu that has been fried and stuffed with sushi rice, making it a great vegetarian option.
SUSHI, SASHIMI AND PREGNANCY WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Philadelphia Roll with hot smoked salmon

Sushi sauces for pregnancy

Sushi is often served with a variety of sauces, and pregnant women should be careful when choosing which ones to use. Soy sauce is safe to use in moderation, but should be used sparingly as it is high in sodium. Kewpie mayonnaise, a popular Japanese condiment, is safe to use as long as it is pasteurized. 

Sushi toppings and condiments safe to eat

Sushi is often served with a variety of toppings and condiments, and pregnant women should be careful when choosing which ones to use. Instead, try using toasted sesame seeds, sliced ginger, garlic, scallion (green onion), or chives as a topping. Wasabi is safe to use in moderation, but should be used sparingly as it can be spicy.

There is still some doubt about the use of fish eggs such as Tobiko and Massago whether or not it is wise to eat them when you are expecting. Ask your doctor for advice if you find this ingredient super delicious and can’t live without it. Otherwise, replace it with toasted sesame seeds.

Tips for making safe and delicious sushi at home

If you’re still worried about the risks of eating sushi during pregnancy, you can also make your own sushi at home. Making sushi at home is easy and fun, and it allows you to control the ingredients and ensure they are safe to eat for you and your baby. When making sushi at home, it’s important to follow a few simple tips to ensure it is safe and delicious. Always use fresh ingredients, wash your hands and utensils thoroughly, and keep cooked and raw ingredients separate. 

Want to make your own sushi at home? Then follow my comprehensive online sushi course and in no time you’ll be making the tastiest sushi yourself. It’s easier than you think! Or maybe it would be a great idea if your partner learned to make sushi? That way you can sit back and relax and be spoiled with this delicious Japanese dish! 

A MESSAGE FROM SUSHI RIK

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Conclusion

In conclusion, pregnant women can enjoy sushi by avoiding certain types of sushi that may contain high levels of mercury and harmful bacteria. Cooked sushi rolls, vegetarian sushi rolls, and homemade sushi are all great options for pregnant women. By following a few simple tips and using safe ingredients, you can enjoy delicious and healthy sushi during pregnancy.

Raw or undercooked fish, shellfish, and other types of sushi should be avoided during pregnancy. Instead, pregnant women can choose sushi made with surimi, vegetables, and other safe ingredients.

If you’re a sushi lover who’s pregnant, you can still enjoy this delicious food by choosing safe options and making sushi at home with safe ingredients. Remember to always practice good food safety practices when preparing and eating sushi. So enjoy the sushi you do get to eat. And when in doubt; always seek the advice of your doctor.

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