Are Shrimp and Prawns Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?

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Can I Eat Shrimp/Prawns When Pregnant?

Shrimp and prawns are both delicious. But they are commonly questioned during pregnancy.

Are shrimp safe for a pregnant woman?

How much of them can you eat?

How to cook prawns to eat safely in Pregnancy?

So to help you with your doubts, let us see some facts you must be aware of:

shrimp

Are shrimp/prawns Safe or Unsafe during Pregnancy?

It is no question that pregnant women need to watch their diet since they are now eating for two. So if you feel like eating shrimp or prawns, the big answer is YES, you can do so. They are generally safe to eat during pregnancy if they are thoroughly cooked and come from non-polluted source, albeit with some precautions and always talk to your doctor if you are unsure about adding any foods to your diet.

Nutritional and Health Benefits of Shrimp/Prawns

Aside from being delicious, these two are actually packed with vitamins and minerals.
prawns

1. They are a Great Source of Proteins.

Shrimp contain very little fat and carbohydrates. A six-ounce serving of shrimp provides about 36 grams of protein, more than half the daily recommended allowance. Protein helps in the production of peptide hormones, like insulin that regulates our body’s sugar levels.

2. They are Rich in Vitamins and Nutrients

Shrimp have been found to contain key nutrients that are readily absorbed by our body. These nutrients have been found to assist our body in healing and protecting itself. Some key nutrients found in shrimp and prawns are:

Selenium – A 4-ounce serving provides us with 100% of the daily recommended allowance. This nutrient is a known antioxidant that helps fight cell damage caused by antioxidants. Studies also show that Selenium has cancer-fighting properties.

Amino Acids – These cannot be produced by our body on it’s own and have to be sourced through consumption of food. They are necessary to allow our body to repair damaged cells and regenerate new ones.

Asaxanthin – This is what gives the orange or reddish color of the shells when they are cooked. A modified carotenoid, asaxanthin posseses anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties.

Shrimp and prawns are also rich sources of iron, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, phosphorous, choline, copper and iodine. These nutrients improve brain, immunity and thyroid functions.

3. They are Low in Calories.

A medium-sized shrimp only contains about 7 calories. So, consuming 10 of these adds up to about 75 calories, 15 calories less than a 3-ounce breast of chicken. A medium prawn, on the other hand, only contains 14 calories.
Reference: Health.com
Also Read: Safe to Eat Fish for Pregnant Women

Basics About Shrimps and Prawns

Shrimp vs. Prawns: Are they both safe to eat in Pregnancy?

Many think that both are one and the same but they are not. While both shrimp and prawns are decapod crustaceans and are typically found in the ocean floor, the two are actually different in several aspects. On the physical side, shrimps have smaller legs compared to prawns.

Shrimps are smaller and have less meat. Prawns on the other hand have darker and thicker shells and their meat tastes sweeter. They both are safe for Expectant Women. Babies must not be given shrimp/prawns until they turn 2years old.
eating uncooked prawns

Sea Water vs. River Water Shrimps

Between the sea water and the river water shrimp, there are no significant difference between them other than river, or freshwater, shrimps being typically farmed. Sea shrimps, also known as wild shrimps, on the other hand are caught out in the ocean. Typically though, among same species, those caught in the wild are more flavorful than farmed ones.

They can also be found on both cold and warm waters. There seems to be an agreement that those species caught in cold waters tend to be sweeter and tender than their warm water brethren.

Which ones are Safer to Eat: Sea Water or River Water Shrimps

It depends on the health of origin. If the sea water or river water from where they are caught are polluted then they are not safe. So when you buy any seafood, always make sure the origin is not known for any bad history of pollution.

How about Tiger Prawns or Lobsters?

lobster
There are no problems with eating tiger prawns or lobsters during pregnancy. As stated above, just be sure that they are properly and thoroughly cooked before eating them.

Can I Eat Uncooked Frozen Cold Salads Containing Raw or Smoked Shrimps?

Never ever eat shrimp, or any shellfish for that matter, raw during pregnancy. Raw shellfish may contain harmful bacteria that may result to food poisoning. Smoked shrimp, on the other hand, are safe for consumption. Just make sure that they came from a reputable source.
Cold pre-cooked shrimps can be eaten, as long as you check into how they are prepared and if they have come into contact with raw seafood. If unsure, especially when eating out in restaurants, just DON’T. Those delicious looking cold shrimps on the buffet table may not be worth the risk. You should also avoid eating Sushi for this reason during pregnancy

Precautions While Eating Shrimp or Prawns

There are some precautions to keep in mind when eating shrimp or prawns during pregnancy.

Shrimp and prawns are known allergens. Reactions may include itchiness, inflammation and abdominal pains. Just be alert for allergic reactions.
Always make sure that they are thoroughly cooked. Never eat raw or under cooked shrimp or prawns.

While there are pros and cons against, both, farmed and open water shrimps, it is advisable to just buy your shrimps from a source that you trust.

How Much Shrimp is Safe during Pregnancy?

Pregnant women are advised to limit the amount of shrimp or prawns that they eat to about 8 to 12 ounces per week. This translates to two to three meals per week but always check with your doctor.

Cooking Shrimp/Prawns the Right Way

If you are cooking shrimps, be sure that they are well-cooked. Shrimps and prawns turn pearly-white when they are fully cooked. To be sure just follow these easy steps.

1. Wash the shrimps. Devein the shrimps. The shrimp should be deveined before cooking. Take 1 tablespoon salt and add it to one bowl full of lukewarm water. Let shrimp be in that water for about 10 minutes. Then wash them again. This is the right process to clean the shrimps.
2. Now you may steam them or sauté them. If you sauté them then make sure they are cooked for a right time which is minimum 10 minutes.
3. Make sure that the meat of the cooked shrimp/prawns is firm and bouncy.
cooking rawns

Any food even if known to be very safe and healthy during pregnancy must be taken in moderation in order to avoid any side-effects to you and your baby. The cooking process also plays a crucial role. It is important to educate yourself for such precautions for a healthy and trouble free pregnancy. Shellfish like shrimp and prawns are nutritious for pregnancy if taken with proper care.

You may also like to read:
Is it safe to eat Mushrooms in Pregnancy?
Papaya during pregnancy
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About Author

Karen Wojciechowski

Karen, founder of RealEnergyFood.com is an integrative nutrition health coach who is passionate about helping people boost energy levels, lose weight, clear up their skin & improve their health through finding the right foods that work for their unique body. With a Science degree from the University of Western Australia and certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Karen works with clients all over the world through one on one coaching and group programs. Karen’s mission is to help people get energized and achieve food freedom so they can concentrate on the important things in life. Find out more at RealEnergyFood.com

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