Can I eat tuna during pregnancy?

For many, a can of tuna fish represents a quick, reasonably healthy way to make a meal and get some much needed fish into your diet. But is it safe to eat, or should it be avoided?

Sushi or raw

This one is basically an across the board no-go. Raw fish and sushi can contain parasites that can be dangerous for a developing baby in the womb. Because of this, The Mayo Clinic states that expecting mothers should avoid raw fish in every form.

Canned tuna

Depending on who you talk to, the issue of canned tuna is a little controversial. Consumer Reports published a study in the mid 2000s, and later a 2014 article, that showed that the levels of mercury in canned tuna can vary wildly from one can to the next.

Critics of the studies say that mercury poisoning from canned tuna could only come from frequent and prolonged exposure to the substance. Unless you’re eating it every day, you just aren’t likely to get that level of consistent exposure from canned tuna.

So although avoiding it completely is the safest strategy, you can almost completely reduce your risk of mercury exposure by keeping your intake to two cans or less of tuna per week. It’s always a good idea to cook canned tuna, which might require some kitchen ingenuity.

Tuna steaks

Fish has a lot of beneficial properties for an expecting mom. Hopefully, low-mercury fish will be a regular part of your pregnancy diet. A tuna steak is a great source of DHA, protein, and some essential oils that will help protect your skin and improve heart health.

Bake some tuna, pan fry it, or throw it on the grill — you really can’t go wrong with how you cook it. You want the internal temperature of the tuna to be at 145 degrees, or until all the flesh has changed color, begun to brown, and the meat separates easily with a fork.

A lot of tuna recipes center around only partially cooking the fish, leaving the steak red in the middle, so be careful which preparation method you choose. For now, you’ll only want to follow a recipe that completely cooks your tuna. If you’re in a restaurant, make sure your server knows you want it “well done.”

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