Can You Eat Sea Bass and Other Fish When Pregnant?

When pregnant, it is important to ensure that your diet includes healthy and nutritious options. Fish is a popular option that can be a part of your healthy diet. One fish you may be considering as part of your pregnancy diet is sea bass. But, can you eat sea bass when pregnant? The answer is not always straightforward, so let us take a closer look at the potential risks and benefits associated with eating this type of fish during pregnancy. In this blog post, we will discuss the safety of consuming fish and seafood while pregnant and provide tips on how to safely incorporate it into your meal plan.

This article does not give medical advice.  Please always consult with your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns.

Benefits of Eating Fish During Pregnancy

The good news is that fish can be a part of healthy pregnancy!  Fish is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids that are needed for the health of both mom and the developing baby. Additionally, fish provides a great source of protein that can help to keep you feeling full and satisfied. 

The best choices of fish during pregnancy include salmon, trout, herring, and sardines. These varieties are all high in healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and promote fetal brain development.  Omega-3 is also important for baby’s eye development. 

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that is found in some types of fish, including sea bass. DHA also helps to support the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system. The American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women get a minimum of 200mg of DHA daily for healthy fetal development.

Vitamin D can be found in some seafood types and helps improve calcium absorption.  This helps to keep mom’s bones strong and healthy during pregnancy. 

Sea bass is also good source of omega-3 fatty acids.  It contains high levels of vitamin B, selenium, zinc, iron, and other important nutrients. Eating sea bass during pregnancy may help reduce inflammation throughout the body and decrease the risk of developing preeclampsia. 

Two whole fish lay across a plate that sits on a wooden surface.

Risks Associated With Eating Fish During Pregnancy 

There are certain types of fish that pregnant women should avoid eating.  This includes some types of large and predatory fish, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. These fish may contain high levels of mercury which can be harmful to the baby’s developing nervous system. 

Oily fish like sea bass should be consumed in moderation as some types may contain higher mercury levels. This is an important factor to consider when deciding whether or not to eat sea bass while pregnant.

In general, smaller fish do not contain as much mercury as larger varieties. However, pregnant people should still consume it in moderation and ensure that the source is safe. Other low-mercury fish options include salmon, tilapia, and canned light tuna. 

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are industrial chemicals that can sometimes be found in fish. PCBs are known to cause health problems, so it is important to make sure the fish you consume is safe from these contaminants. Fatty fish can contain high levels of PCBs. Eating large amounts of PCB-contaminated fish can cause harm to the developing fetus.  Sea bass is generally low in PCBs. It is still important to make sure the sea bass you consume comes from a reliable and trusted source.

Raw meat, raw fish, and uncooked fish should be avoided during pregnancy. Raw shellfish, such as oysters and clams, should also be avoided.  Eating raw seafood can cause you to ingest harmful bacteria, parasites, and viruses that can harm you and your baby. 

It is also important to limit your intake of certain types of canned or processed fish. These may contain high levels of salt, which can increase your risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy. 

Fish Source Location

Fish and seafood come from a variety of sources and different countries.  Some of these sources may not have the same food safety standards as other countries. It is important to make sure you are buying your fish from a reputable source in order to ensure that it is safe to eat and free of contaminants. 

Consider looking for labels such as Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) which means the fish is sustainable and responsibly sourced. 

Fish from the Gulf of Mexico should be bought from reliable sources in order to ensure the fish is not contaminated with oil or other pollutants.

Fish from local waters should be checked with the local Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to ensure it is safe to consume. 

Tips for Enjoying Sea Bass While Pregnant

If you are considering adding sea bass to your pregnancy diet, it is important to choose fish that has been responsibly caught from a reputable supplier. Avoid farm-raised sea bass as they may contain higher levels of toxins than wild-caught varieties. 

Always make sure your fish is cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145F before eating. You can also opt for steaming, baking, or poaching as these cooking methods are safe and healthy for pregnant women.  Not thoroughly cooking your seafood can lead to issues like food poisoning. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that pregnant women limit their fish consumption to 12 ounces per week.  This includes all types of fish, so it is important to spread out your intake and ensure you are getting a variety of fish in your diet.  Typical portions of fish are typically 3-4 ounces. 

Be sure to pay attention to any local advisories regarding the safety of eating certain types of fish in your area. 

4 whole fish lay on top of a white plate.

Are There Different Types of Sea Bass?

There are a few different species of sea bass. Some of these types are safer to eat than the others.

When considering sea bass, it is important to consider where the fish came from. Wild-caught sea bass are caught in open waters and have not been exposed to antibiotics or other chemicals often found in farmed fish. Typically, wild-caught sea bass contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than farmed sea bass.

Most sea bass found in grocery stores are Atlantic sea bass, also known as black seabass or giant sea bass. Black sea bass is a smaller type of fish that can be safely enjoyed by expectant mothers. These fish have a mild flavor and can be cooked using various methods such as grilling, broiling, baking, and steaming. 

Pacific sea bass is another type of fish that can sometimes be found in the seafood section at  the grocery store. This fish is larger than black sea bass but can also be safely eaten during pregnancy if it is cooked to an internal temperature of 145F. 

European sea bass is a popular type of sea bass that can be enjoyed while pregnant. It is generally larger than the other varieties and has a firmer texture. 

Chilean sea bass is usually more expensive and should be avoided during pregnancy due to its higher levels of mercury.

Other Fish Recommendations During Pregnancy

In addition to sea bass, there are other types of seafood that can be safely enjoyed during pregnancy to help you get all your key nutrients. 

Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and a good source of protein. It is important to make sure the salmon you purchase is wild-caught as farmed salmon may contain higher levels of PCBs.  Canned light tuna can also be enjoyed during pregnancy as it has lower levels of mercury. 

Shellfish such as shrimp, mussels, crab, and lobster can be safely eaten if they are properly cooked. Avoid raw forms of these foods to reduce the risk of food poisoning. 

Mahi Mahi, tilapia and cod are other types of safe white fish to eat during pregnancy. Sea bream and grouper are other good choices that are generally considered safe for pregnant women to eat. However, it is important to note that there is still a risk associated with consuming these fish as they can contain trace amounts of mercury. 

Bigeye tuna, albacore tuna, white tuna, mackerel and orange roughy should be avoided by both pregnant women and young children, due to their higher levels of mercury content.

Fish oil supplements can be taken during pregnancy as long as the product has been third-party tested and contains low levels of PCBs. Be sure to always check with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements.

Eating a variety of fish while pregnant can help ensure you and your growing baby get the nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy. Be sure to buy from reliable sources, cook fish thoroughly, and limit your intake according to the recommendations from the FDA and EPA.  

If you are in the United States, a list of safe fish can be found online from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Eating fish while pregnant is a great way to get many health benefits for you as well as to provide support for fetal growth.  Sea bass is a great choice of fish that can offer a range of essential nutrients and other nutritional benefits.  Just make sure it is responsibly caught and cooked correctly. Choose wild-caught varieties from a trusted source and opt for cooking methods such as baking, steaming, or poaching.  Avoid any uncooked seafood or fish that has high mecury levels, as these can harm your unborn baby.  Make sure not to exceed 8-12 ounces of fish per week and pay attention to any local advisories.  With a few precautions, you can safely enjoy this delicious fish while pregnant! 

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