Is it safe to eat salmon while pregnant?

Pregnancy brings about a mix of joyful moments and apprehension, particularly regarding dietary choices. Expectant mothers are understandably concerned about their nutrition, knowing that their baby relies on what they consume. Monitoring one’s diet becomes crucial. Salmon emerges as a top choice for many during pregnancy, and rightfully so. It boasts delicious flavor, abundant nutrients, and versatility. Moreover, it’s easily accessible, and the array of dishes one can prepare with it is endless. So, is it safe to consume salmon during pregnancy? Let’s delve into that question!

Is it safe to eat salmon while pregnant?
Is it safe to eat salmon while pregnant?

Is Salmon Safe for Pregnant Women?

We’ve established that salmon is both delicious and nutritious, but is it safe for pregnant women to include in their diets? The answer is a resounding yes! Salmon offers exceptional nutritional value that can benefit both the expectant mother and her child. As a low-fat fish, salmon ranks among the most nutritious options available. Additionally, its consumption can help ward off various diseases, safeguarding both you and your baby.

Benefits of Consuming Salmon During Pregnancy

As previously mentioned, salmon boasts numerous health benefits. Here are a few:

Abundant in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are renowned for their diverse advantages, including promoting cardiovascular health, enhancing eyesight, and facilitating neurological development, which are particularly beneficial during pregnancy. Incorporating this nutrient into your diet can contribute to the well-being of both you and your unborn child.

Rich Source of Proteins and Vitamins

Proteins are crucial for muscle growth and repair, while vitamins play a pivotal role in maintaining optimal blood pressure levels, preventing heart disease, and boosting immunity. Moreover, vitamins support healthy eyes, skin, and hair, serving as antioxidants that combat toxins.

Heart Health Promotion

Salmon promotes heart health by regulating blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as preventing blood clotting, especially within the arteries.

Potential for Preventing Premature Delivery

Fish with low-fat content and high omega-3 fatty acid levels offer significant benefits to the body, with salmon being a prime example. Research indicates that consumption of this fish can help reduce the risk of premature delivery.

High DHA Content

Salmon is rich in Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which supports the brain development of your fetus. Furthermore, it may aid in preventing postpartum depression in expecting mothers.

Recommended Salmon Consumption During Pregnancy

It’s crucial to consume salmon in moderation during pregnancy. While salmon is known to have low levels of mercury, it’s advisable not to exceed 2 to 3 servings or 8 to 12 ounces per week. This recommendation aligns with the guidelines for low-mercury fish consumption. Going beyond this limit could potentially impact the baby’s brain development.

Nutritional Benefits of Cooked Salmon

A single serving of cooked salmon, roughly three to four ounces, provides approximately 200 calories. Most of these calories offer significant nutritional value during pregnancy. Salmon serves as an excellent source of protein and is low in saturated fat. Additionally, it supplies essential nutrients such as iron, potassium, vitamin D, and B12, benefiting both you and your growing baby.

Safe Types of Salmon for Pregnant Women

Several types of salmon dishes are safe for consumption during pregnancy. Here’s a list of salmon varieties suitable for expecting mothers:

Tinned or Canned Salmon

Tinned salmon is safe for pregnant women as it undergoes sterilization during the canning process. However, be cautious as tinned salmon may contain larger bones, which should be removed before consumption.

Fresh, Cooked, or Frozen Salmon Steak

Any cooking method can be used for salmon, provided it is thoroughly cooked. Use a cooking thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 145°F or 63°C, effectively eliminating pathogens and bacteria.

‘Ready to Eat’ Salmon Pouches

Salmon pouches labeled as “ready to eat” are safe during pregnancy as the salmon undergoes a pasteurization process similar to canning. However, avoid ready-to-eat smoked salmon pouches.

Crispy Salmon Skin

Fully cooked or crispy salmon skin is safe for consumption, similar to salmon steak, as long as it is thoroughly cooked.

Cold, Cooked Salmon

Cooked salmon can be consumed at cooler temperatures if stored properly in a refrigerator. Ensure it is consumed within a couple of days after cooking for optimal safety.

Side Effects of Excessive Salmon Consumption During Pregnancy

It’s essential to remember that moderation is key, especially during pregnancy. Here are some potential side effects of consuming excessive amounts of salmon during pregnancy:

Increased Mercury Levels

While salmon typically contains low levels of mercury compared to other types of fish, overconsumption can lead to elevated mercury levels in your body. Therefore, it’s important to consume salmon in moderation to avoid this risk.

Potential Exposure to PCBs

PCBs, or Polychlorinated biphenyls, are harmful compounds known to be carcinogenic, meaning they can contribute to the development of cancer. Excessive consumption of salmon may expose you to higher levels of PCBs, posing a risk to both you and your developing fetus. PCBs can also interfere with the proper development of the fetus.

Choosing Between Wild and Farmed Salmon During Pregnancy

The majority of salmon consumed is farmed, whereas wild salmon is becoming rarer and consequently pricier. If your budget allows and wild salmon is accessible, it’s preferable to opt for cooked wild salmon throughout your pregnancy. However, most farmed salmon available is produced in a safe and highly regulated manner, making it a safe option for pregnant women.

Incorporating Salmon into Your Pregnancy Diet

There are numerous ways to include salmon in your pregnancy diet, with broiling, poaching, or baking being among the best methods. It’s important to avoid raw preparations like sushi, which pose a risk of bacterial infection during pregnancy. Enjoy salmon fillets with rice and vegetables, or indulge in flavorful salmon salads packed with vegetables.

While it’s advisable to steer clear of refrigerated smoked seafood during pregnancy, there’s no evidence suggesting a negative correlation between smoked salmon consumption and pregnancy complications. Therefore, there’s no specific reason to avoid it unless you have concerns or adverse reactions.

Salmon Recipe for Expectant Mothers

Treat yourself and your growing baby to a delightful salmon dish that’s quick and easy to prepare!

Honey Dijon Alaska Salmon


  • 4 salmon fillets (skin removed)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup spinach leaves
  • 4 lemon wedges
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Servings: 4


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/395°F and line a baking tray with aluminum foil.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together Dijon mustard, honey, olive oil, and minced fresh ginger.
  3. Place the salmon fillets on the prepared baking tray. Season with a pinch of salt, then brush the honey Dijon glaze evenly over the fillets.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the salmon is cooked through and the glaze is caramelized.
  5. While the salmon is baking, blanch the spinach leaves.
  6. Plate the blanched spinach and top with the cooked salmon.
  7. Sprinkle with black pepper and squeeze fresh lemon juice over each serving.
  8. Your delicious salmon dish is ready to be enjoyed!

Precautions When Consuming Salmon During Pregnancy

Here are some important precautions to consider when including salmon in your diet during pregnancy:

  1. Source: Purchase or order salmon from a trusted source. Whether buying from a local vendor or dining out, ensure the fish is of good quality. Check restaurant reviews for cleanliness and hygiene standards.
  2. Cooking: Ensure salmon is thoroughly cooked. Consuming raw or undercooked salmon during pregnancy can pose risks as raw food is a breeding ground for bacteria, germs, and viruses, which could harm both you and your fetus.
  3. Skin Removal: Remove the skin from the fish before consumption. Additionally, ensure the meat is cooked until it reaches a dark color to guarantee its safety.
  4. Spice Level: Avoid cooking salmon with excessive spices. Overconsumption of spicy foods may not be advisable during pregnancy, so opt for milder seasoning options to minimize any potential discomfort.


Can I eat salmon when pregnant?

Yes, you can eat salmon when pregnant. In fact, salmon is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for both you and your baby’s development during pregnancy. However, it’s recommended to eat cooked salmon rather than raw or undercooked salmon to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

What fish to avoid when pregnant?

Some types of fish are high in mercury, which can be harmful to your baby’s developing nervous system. It’s best to avoid high-mercury fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Instead, opt for low-mercury fish like salmon, shrimp, catfish, and trout.

Why can’t you eat smoked salmon when pregnant?

Smoked salmon is often not recommended during pregnancy due to the risk of listeriosis, a type of foodborne illness caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. Pregnant women are more susceptible to listeriosis, which can lead to serious complications including miscarriage, premature delivery, or stillbirth. While some commercially produced smoked salmon may be safe because of the smoking process, it’s generally advised to avoid it or to ensure it’s thoroughly cooked before consuming.

Can I eat salmon at 37 weeks pregnant?

Yes, you can eat salmon at 37 weeks pregnant, as long as it’s cooked thoroughly. It’s important to continue consuming nutritious foods like salmon throughout your pregnancy to support your own health and the development of your baby. Just remember to avoid consuming raw or undercooked fish to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses.


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