Can You Eat California Rolls When Pregnant?

Nine Months of Sushi Safety

Avoiding your beloved sushi for nine months is a small price to pay in exchange for a healthy baby...but, man, you're going to miss it. Or will you? If California rolls are your sushi dish of choice, you're in luck. Some types of seafood are off limits during pregnancy because they contain high levels of mercury, which can harm your developing baby. California rolls, however, are safe to eat in moderation.

Wish They All Could Be California Rolls

top down view a california sushi roll

What Seafood Can You Eat When Pregnant?

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California rolls are typically made with rice and nori (seaweed) wrapped around cucumber, avocado, and crab meat or imitation crab meat. All these elements are safe to eat while you're pregnant. In fact, California rolls are one of the safest sushi choices, because crab is low in mercury and sushi chefs used steamed or boiled varieties rather than raw crab. Sometimes, California rolls are made with imitation crab meat, which is actually made of white fish like pollock. It's also low in mercury and therefore safe during pregnancy.

Although the seafood in California rolls is usually low in mercury, you'll still ingest too much of the element if you eat crab everyday. Limit yourself to two to three servings of low-mercury seafood per week.

Sushi, Sashimi and Other Seafood

Researchers continue to study the effects of mercury on pregnant women, but until they change their recommendations, your safest bet is to avoid all types of seafood with high levels of the metal. King mackerel, marlin, shark, swordfish, bigeye tuna and tilefish all contain too much mercury for a pregnant woman to safely eat, even in moderation.

Avoid sashimi and all varieties of raw seafood altogether during pregnancy. Raw fish is dangerous to ingest not just because of mercury, but because it sometimes contains bacteria or parasites that can harm both you and your baby.

Sushi made with cooked, low-mercury seafood is safe to eat, as long as you stick to no more than three servings a week. Just make sure you know exactly what type of seafood is used in any sushi dish you order, and verify that it has been cooked to at least 145 degrees F. Sushi rolls made with cooked shrimp, squid, lobster and most kinds of fish are perfectly safe to eat a few times per week. Even cooked eel is safe to eat during pregnancy.

Other Choices

top down view a california sushi roll

Can Pregnant Women Eat Crawfish?

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If you want to enjoy the experience of eating sushi more often, munch on vegetable rolls and other vegetarian options. Many Japanese dishes are perfect for pregnant women because they contain lots of vegetables and protein. Embrace foods like noodle bowls with tofu and broth, miso soup, edamame and simple grilled meat dishes.