Now that you’re pregnant, you’ve probably have some minor changes in your lifestyle, daily activities, and how you take care of yourself. Apart from that, you may now take a closer look at what you eat and drink, particularly the seafood that you once love to indulge on. This makes you think, can I eat oysters while pregnant? Here’s what experts found out.
Can you eat oysters when pregnant?
Here’s the good news for the seafood-lover moms-to-be! You can safely eat oysters while pregnant, provided that they will be fresh and well-cooked.
For pregnant women, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends cooking the shellfish in at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any bacteria, viruses, or parasites that may be present.
So if you really crave for oysters while pregnant, you may need to bake or boil the oysters at the recommended temperature before eating. Partial cooking techniques like smoking or blanching are not advisable for pregnant women.
Furthermore, you might need to keep a keen eye on your oyster intake at certain times during pregnancy.
The first trimester is when there is the highest risk for miscarriage and congenital problems for your baby. Additionally, the third trimester also makes the possibility of preterm labor higher. Hence, during these times, you might as well be extra cautious of your food intake, specifically when it comes to shellfish.
Can you eat raw oysters while pregnant?
Just like other raw seafood and meat, raw oysters are not advised for pregnant women. Eating raw or partially cooked oysters may put you and your baby at risk of these potentially fatal conditions:
Bacteria thrive in raw food, and oysters are not an exemption. Eating raw oysters and other meals containing raw seafood like sushi, may put a pregnant mom at risk of a bacterial infection called listeriosis. Pregnant moms who get infected with listeriosis may experience stomach upset and flu-like symptoms. However, severe cases can lead to the infection of the blood and brain, premature labor, and miscarriage.
Food poisoning and allergic reactions
Since pregnancy also affects a mom-to-be’s immune system, she will be more prone to certain illnesses while pregnant. Among these conditions are food poisoning and certain allergies.
Toxins that are already present in contaminated shellfish can cause food poisoning. It is important to consider that cooking, even how well you do it, wouldn’t kill or eliminate the toxins that are already present in the shellfish.
So if you do want to consume commercial oysters, make sure that you buy the fresh ones to help minimize the possibility of contamination.
How many oysters can you eat when pregnant?
Oyster is a type of shellfish that can be consumed at small amounts during pregnancy. Pregnant women are recommended to take around 8 to 12 ounces of seafood, like low-mercury fish and shellfish, in a week.
Benefits of eating oysters while pregnant
Eating cooked oysters can actually be beneficial for the pregnant mom. Oysters have their unique nutritive value and infusing it in your diet during pregnancy may provide some vitamins and minerals that are essential for your growing baby. Among these are the following:
Pregnant women need protein in their diet, but they must be watchful of their weight gain during pregnancy. Oysters are low in fat, low in calories, and high in protein, making them an ideal source of your protein needs.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, the recommended protein allowance for pregnant women is 75 to 100 grams per day.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Oysters are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are known for their numerous health benefits including the reduction of risk for heart and brain problems. A healthy dose of these fatty acids is essential for the brain development of babies while inside the womb.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends eating at least 2 servings of omega-3 rich foods from low-mercury fish and shellfish. One serving is equivalent to approximately 8 to 12 ounces.
Another nutrient that is essential for the brain and cell development of babies during pregnancy is zinc. Zinc is also known for its immune-boosting effects.
The daily recommendation of zinc for pregnant moms is 7 mg per day which is the same for non-pregnant women. You can get a healthy dose of zinc from well-cooked oysters.
Pregnant women need an additional supply of iron to support pregnancy. Iron is needed for oxygen to be delivered within your body and to your unborn baby.
This is why it’s recommended to consume a minimum of 27 mg of iron per day while pregnant. 3 ounces of cooked oysters has nearly 8 mg!
This B vitamin is essential in nervous system functioning, blood cell formation and metabolism. With a serving of 3.5 ounces of cooked oysters, you can already get more than 100 percent of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin B12.
Oysters are also a good source of selenium. This antioxidant can help protect your body from free radicals, aids in metabolism, and supports thyroid functions.
Another essential vitamin while pregnant, Vitamin D is needed for the body’s cellular development and bone growth. Vitamin D reduces the risk of pregnancy-related complications like gestational diabetes, premature birth, and infections.
Cooked oysters are generally safe to take within the recommended limits while pregnant. However, it is also important to consider that the nutrients derived from oysters can also be provided by other food sources.
Knowing that oysters can be easily contaminated if not properly handled, you might as well take a look at these preparation tips that you can use if you want to cook and eat oysters at home.
Check for the freshness of oysters before buying.
You’ll know that oysters are fresh if the shells are fully closed and have a scent of saltwater. Avoid oysters with opened shells and those having a foul smell.
Clean the shell thoroughly before cooking.
Brush and wash the oyster shell before you prepare them for cooking.
Cook oysters immediately.
Once you get a hold of fresh oysters, it is important to cook them right away. Leaving raw oysters for a long time or refrigerating them may increase the risk of contamination that can cause food poisoning or infection.
Boil the oysters first before you use their meat for frying or sautéing.
Boiling the oysters will help eliminate the bacteria or parasites that may be present in their shells and assures that they are thoroughly cooked. It is also easier to fry or saute the previously boiled oysters.
Check for a shellfish advisory in your area.
This is particularly important if you’re fetching fresh oysters from public waters or outside the certified commercial premises that did not pass testing or screening.
Overall, pregnant women can eat oysters as long as they are well-cooked and fresh. Eating raw or partially-cooked oysters and other shellfish is not recommended during pregnancy because pregnant women are more prone to infection, food poisoning, and allergies. Should you have any other concerns with regards to your diet while pregnant, it is best to check it with your obstetrician.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or licensed medical professional before making any medical decisions.