During pregnancy nutrition is a key factor in achieving healthy births. Medical professionals recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding women should include up to two portions a week of fish. Species rich in healthy fats such as salmon, trout, herring and mackerel, as well as cod will also contribute the DHA and EPA your body needs to keep you and baby going through pregnancy. Studies have shown that children whose mothers ate fish during pregnancy had improved brain function compared with those whose mothers whose diets did not include seafood.
Seafood offers many benefits to both mother and child;
Increased levels of marine omega-3 fatty acids during the later stages of pregnancy can reduce the risk of postnatal depression. During the final months of pregnancy, the mother is drained of the natural healthy fats DHA and EPA because they are being concentrated in the child’s brain. Restocking your omega-3 fatty acids by eating more seafood in the late stages of pregnancy appears to reduce the risk of depression.
A regular intake of marine omega-3 fatty acids can help children gain improved brain function, better physical coordination and even social skills later in life.
Eating seafood rich in natural oils during pregnancy helps build healthy bones and skeletons in children because seafood contains vitamin D, which ensures the efficient take-up of calcium in the body.
Seafood also contains iodine which helps manage growth, maintain energy levels and regulate our metabolism. A lack of iodine can lead to symtoms such as fatigue, lethargy, depression and swelling of the thyroid gland.
The Norwegian Directorate of Health recommends pregnant women to eat more seafood. At mealtimes and between meals. Below are answers to the most commonly asked questions in connection with pregnancy:
How can I increase my consumption of seafood during pregnancy?
Given that seafood is such an important part of one’s diet during pregnancy, it is a good idea to think of ways to eat seafood in between regular meals. There are many options for making a delicious fish sandwich: mackerel in tomato sauce, pickled herring and smoked salmon are all good to eat for breakfast or as an evening snack. And for lunch, why not try a tasty fishburger or salmon salad?
Are there certain types of seafood that are more important than others during pregnancy?
Different types of seafood have differing quantities of the most important nutrients. Fatty fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel are good sources of marine omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D in particular. Lean fish such as cod contain a lot of iodine. A dinner portion of cod provides your daily requirement of marine omega-3 fatty acids. The best advice is therefore to eat both lean and fatty types of fish.
Can I eat sushi during pregnancy?
Sushi has become popular in many countries during the last few years. The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety has studied the effects of eating raw fish during pregnancy and has concluded that pregnant women can safely eat sushi. The vast majority of sushi meals contain a generous amount of salmon, which is full of marine omega-3 fatty acids. For those who make their own sushi, it is advisable to freeze the fish before use in order to destroy any parasites.
Can I eat smoked salmon during pregnancy?
Yes, smoked or brine-cured salmon can be eaten during pregnancy. The Norwegian authorities recommend that you buy and eat the freshest possible smoked salmon, in other words well before the ”eat by” date. Remember that every slice of smoked salmon that you eat means more vitamin D and marine omega-3 fatty acids for the foetus.
Can I eat herring in sandwiches during pregnancy?
Yes, you most certainly can! For pregnant women and all others who make their own sandwiches using fresh herring, it is advisable to freeze the fish before use in order to destroy any parasites.
Can I eat lye-soaked fish during pregnancy?
There is no reason to avoid lye-soaked fish during pregnancy.
Further information can be found at www.matportalen.no
Sources: Richardson and Montgomery: “The Oxford-Durham Study: A Randomized, Controlled Trial and Dietary Supplementation With Fatty Acids in Children With Development Coordination Disorder”. Hibbeln: “Seafood consumption, the DHA content of mothers’ milk and prevalence rates of postpartum depression: a cross-national ecological analysis”. Åberg et al: “Fish intake of Swedish male adolescents is a predictor of cognitive performance”. Hibbeln et al: “Maternal seafood consumption in pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood (ALSPAC study): an observational cohort study”. Norwegian National Council for Nutrition report: ”Dietary guidelines to promote public health and prevent chronic illnesses in Norway – Methodology and scientific knowledge basis”, chapter 25: ”Diet and prevention of neurodegenerative illnesses and mental health”.