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Can pregnant women eat sushi? experts clarify

For women who love Japanese cuisine, one of the first questions that arise at the beginning of pregnancy is: can pregnant or not eat sushi?

The dilemma around this issue is due to the fact that most Japanese dishes contain raw fish – and these are well known for their risk of contamination.

However, just stop to think that fish is not the only food that is subject to contamination. Thus, with some care, it is possible, yes, to eat sushi during pregnancy, among other Japanese foods. Check out the clarification and guidelines of the professionals below:

Japanese food in pregnancy: can or can’t you?

Erica Mantelli (CRM-SP 124.315), gynecologist and obstetrician, graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Santo Amaro and post-graduated in Legal Medicine and Medical Expertise and Sexology/Human Sexuality from USP, says yes.

The doctor points out, however, that the ideal is to take some precautions so that the pregnant woman does not run any risk:

  • Choose an establishment suitable for the consumption of Japanese food;
  • Know the origin of the fish;
  • Pay attention to the handling of fish and hygiene care in the establishment;
  • Choose a good fish to be consumed;
  • Limit the amount of fish consumed during the week.

“Ideally, this fish consumption should be carried out at most twice a week, so as not to increase the risk of increased mercury levels. And, preferably, the consumption should be of salmon, because this is a fish rich in proteins and omega-3, which help in the development of the baby’s nervous system”, guides Erica.

The specialist also clarifies that raw fish is not part of the parasite cycle that leads to toxoplasmosis, so women who do not have immunity against toxoplasmosis can ingest raw fish.

“It is worth noting that the problem of raw fish consumption is not related to toxoplasmosis, but to the possible transmission of bacteria (if it is contaminated) and also to high levels of mercury.”, explains Erica.

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An important guideline, however, is to consume the fish after it has been frozen. Erica explains that the consumption of raw fish can increase the risk of parasites, when this fish is contaminated by some type of parasite. “That’s why it’s important to consume this fish after it’s frozen, because the freezing process eliminates the chances of a risk of contamination by some parasite,” she explains.

Erica also warns that the same care goes for the intake of other foods, such as fruits and salads, which also require care in relation to handling and preparation.

Tips and alternatives for the consumption of Japanese food during pregnancy

Yes, pregnant women who like to eat Japanese food, including raw fish, can eat it during pregnancy. But it is essential that they talk to their obstetrician about this and other doubts and, also, that they give preference to restaurants or places from which they already know the origin. “That is, places where the pregnant woman already ate before pregnancy and where she has never had any problems. In addition, the tip is to choose fish with a lower concentration of mercury”, says Erica.

Generally, points out the gynecologist and obstetrician, fish from deeper waters or larger fish tend to have more mercury, as is the case with tuna.

An important care is also with the shoyu! “It is interesting to avoid it, because shoyu has a large amount of sodium and, if consumed in excess, it can lead to cardiovascular problems and even an increase in blood pressure”, explains Erica. So, an alternative, suggests the gynecologist and obstetrician, is to make a different sauce: instead of soy sauce, use olive oil and lemon. “It’s a much healthier and tastier alternative too, and so the pregnant woman will be able to consume her sushi without any problems”, she adds.

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Another interesting alternative, according to the expert, is for pregnant women to opt for hot dishes from Japanese cuisine. “Always being careful, especially with fried foods, which can harm health when consumed in excess. So, the tip is to prefer cooked instead of fried, in addition to raw, as long as this consumption is within the limit of twice a week”, she emphasizes.

In Japanese cuisine there are also some sushi options without fish, for example, containing cucumber, carrot, zucchini or even fruit. These also become good options to alternate with the consumption of salmon sushi.

It is also good to know that seaweed, used to prepare sushi and temaki, is even very healthy – rich in protein, fiber, vitamins A, C and the B complex.

More foods that are not recommended in pregnancy

Now you know that it is not forbidden to consume sushi during pregnancy and not even other foods from Japanese cuisine. But check out below foods that deserve special attention at this stage:

  • Raw meat: Adriana de Góes, specialist in Assisted Human Reproduction, Gynecology and Obstetrics, points out that some foods can transmit diseases because they are contaminated, which can harm the baby. Therefore, it is recommended to especially avoid raw meats. Erica Mantelli adds that raw meat, especially beef and pork, can be linked to diseases, especially cysticercosis, which is why avoiding it is so important.
  • Oysters: Erica points out that consumption is not recommended because the oyster can be contaminated and lead to important health problems.
  • Sausages and processed foods: Erica explains that pregnant women should avoid consuming sausages (ham, turkey breast, sausage, etc.), foods with a high amount of sodium and processed foods.
  • Alcohol: As there is no science of a “safe limit”, alcohol consumption is not recommended during pregnancy. Any doubt in this regard, however, should be discussed in private with the obstetrician of each patient.
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Care that goes beyond food

Erica Mantelli emphasizes that pregnancy is part of the first 1,000 days of a baby’s life, that is: the first days that are lived during pregnancy are fundamental for the development of this child, for their health, for their immunity, for their memory.

“Everything that the mother ingests, that the mother feels, will transfer to the baby. So nothing is more important than this pregnant woman being prepared, being with a reliable medical team – who has a holistic view of this pregnant woman, who cares both about her physical health and her emotional health”, she explains.

“It is very important to avoid stress and situations that make the pregnant woman very anxious and worried. It is also interesting for the pregnant woman to go for walks, do some physical activity, relax sessions… Because, with all this, in addition to her having an improvement in her physical health, the improvement in her emotional health also has an impact on a healthier pregnancy”, highlights Erica.

In this way, the pregnant woman must escape the myths surrounding pregnancy and not be exclusively concerned with a single question (such as, “Can you or can’t you eat sushi during pregnancy?”), but seek adequate information and follow all the guidelines. passed by your gynecologist/obstetrician.

In addition to food care, it is worth remembering, performing prenatal care properly is very important so that the pregnant woman is emotionally prepared for all this change in her life (which, when done in a planned way, is much healthier and calmer). .

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