A question that is often brought up around lovers of Cajun food is can pregnant women eat crawfish. It's easy to see why. Who doesn’t love a great Étouffée or Jambalaya to spice things up every now and then? So you might think it would be hard to give up for the next 9 months.
Well, if you’re pregnant, you might have to err on the side of caution. This doesn’t mean avoiding crawfish altogether. Instead, you’ll have to limit your portions and how often you eat it. Furthermore, if you cook a dish that contains crawfish, then you will need to take extra care in the preparation.
Thus, we’ll look at the answer to the question of “can pregnant women eat crawfish?” (Yes, in small amounts.) Some valuable information would also include its nutritional value and the reasons for limiting the quantity. And we’ll also look at the reasons behind the warning of consuming too much seafood during pregnancy.
Nutritional Value and Limits of Crawfish
Crawfish may not look appetizing in their raw state, but they are full of nutrients and low in mercury. So you can enjoy crawfish in moderation. The benefits to eating crawfish include:
- High protein content for building muscle
- B Vitamins for a healthy nervous system
- Minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium for strong bones and heart and immune system
As you can see, there are perks to partaking in dishes that contain crawfish. At the same time, there are some important drawbacks to keep in mind:
- The cholesterol content; if you have issues with blood pressure or your heart, specifically arterial health, then you should avoid this food
- The mercury content (low but…still there)
- The extra caution in the cooking process
Therefore, you’ll need to think about these factors and decide whether or not to indulge in that seafood dish. But at least you know it is safe enough once in a great while.Also, you’ll need to take extra caution when cooking crawfish. Some extremely important tips are:
- Rinse the crawfish thoroughly until the water runs completely clear
- Make sure the water is at a rolling boil before immersing the cooking basket full of crawfish
- Boil the crawfish on high heat for at least 20 minutes
- Afterward, turn the heat down to low and simmer for an additional 20 minutes
Normally crawfish are cooked with vegetables and potatoes. Therefore, the cooking time is a bit longer, which adds more assurance of the safety factor.
Sea Food to Avoid: Beyond the question of can pregnant women eat crawfish?
On the other hand, the moderation rule for crawfish doesn’t apply to all seafood. Some types of seafood to avoid are:
Other types are deemed safe in small amounts by the FDA which include:
- Tuna (stay away from albacore, though)
- Shrimp (cooked thoroughly)
Avoiding foods that contain mercury increases the chance of your baby developing a healthy nervous system.
Also, with some types of seafood, there’s a chance of bacterial or viral contamination if the items are raw or undercooked. Thus caution is a very important part to the answer to the inquiry, can pregnant women eat crawfish.
Better ways to get omega 3’s
So you’re wondering can pregnant women eat crawfish and how to get those omega 3 fatty acids otherwise. After all, they are quite beneficial to you and your baby. Rest assured that you can have your small amount of crawfish once in a great while. Just go easy on that cayenne pepper or risk having tummy trouble.
Other safe sources of omega 3’s include:
- Most tree nuts
- Olives and olive oil
Likewise, if you’re looking for more information on nutrition during pregnancy, check out The Whole Nine Months, a book written by Dr. Jennifer Lang and Dana Angelo White, MS RD. This book outlines up-to-date nutritional information that relates to all three trimesters. It even includes recipes to make meal planning easier.
Just remember that the expression, “few and far between,” applies to the amount of crawfish you should consume when pregnant. There are alternative sources of the necessary nutrients that are safe to consume, plus more information about nutrition during pregnancy like the book that was mentioned.
And of course, it doesn’t hurt to take additional steps such as:
- Consulting your obstetrician
- Talking with a lactation specialist in regard to dietary measures after birth
- Contacting a registered dietician who is knowledgeable in such topics
After all, you want to give your baby the very best start.
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