Smoked Salmon During Pregnancy: Is It Safe or Not?

Pregnant women should be very cautious regarding the foods they choose to eat. If you’re pregnant, one of the most common questions you may have heard is whether or not you can eat smoked salmon.

So can you eat smoked salmon during pregnancy?

There’s some potential risk if you overeat smoked salmon during pregnancy. Doctors and nutritionists recommend that pregnant women limit their consumption of salmon due to concerns about high sodium levels in smoked salmon. Besides, mercury concentration is another factor to consider.

By reading this article, you can decide whether or not it’s safe to eat smoked salmon during pregnancy.

Listeria monocytogenes is a type of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. This bacteria can be found in cold-smoked salmon.

What are the Benefits of Eating Smoked Salmon While Pregnant?

Smoked salmon is a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium. It can also help you get the recommended two servings of seafood per week.

The nutritional benefits of smoked salmon may outweigh its potential risks for most pregnant women only if you are eating it the right way. Smoked salmon is a great way to get plenty of high protein omega-3 into your diet, providing much-needed energy during pregnancy.

smoked-salmon-during-pregnancy

But if your doctor advises against eating fish while pregnant, you should probably not eat smoked salmon either. Pregnant women with mercury sensitivities or high levels of sodium in their blood may also want to avoid it. If you are unsure, consult your physician before eating any type of fish.

Unhealthy Smoked Salmon for Pregnancy

You wouldn’t want to take a risk with the health of your unborn child. So, here are conditions in which you should avoid having smoked salmon.

Cold-Smoked Salmon

While cold-smoked salmon is a delicious way to get your omega-3s, it may not be the best choice for pregnant women. It can contain high levels of sodium, which can drastically increase the blood pressure of a pregnant woman.

Also, cold-smoked salmon is not brined but is dry-cured below 86-degree Fahrenheit. This keeps the bright orange color and soft texture of the fish and indicates that it is raw and uncooked.

cold-smoked-salmon

The FDA advises against eating raw or undercooked fish during pregnancy because they contain food-borne illnesses and parasitic worms, and these contaminants can pass into the fetus through their mother’s bloodstream.

Another valid reason why pregnant women should avoid eating cold-smoked salmon is that it can contain listeria bacteria which can cause a miscarriage, premature birth, or stillbirth.

Listeria monocytogenes is a type of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. This bacteria can be found in cold-smoked salmon. The amount of listeria may vary depending on how long the fish has been cold smoked, where it was caught, how it was processed, and other factors.

Pre-processed Smoked Salmon

While pre-processed smoked salmon may be convenient, it is a big no-no for pregnant women. The processing method of smoked salmon is unknown, and they may also contain preservatives that can pose health risks for the unborn child.

pre-processed-smoked-salmon

Healthy Smoked Salmon For Pregnancy

So, does it mean you have to stay away from your favorite smoked salmon during that entire nine-month? Well, fortunately, there are some healthier versions of it.

Hot-Smoked Salmon

Unlike cold-smoked salmon, hot smoked ones are smoked at high temperatures above 180-degree Fahrenheit. It means there are no risks of bacterial contamination. Hot smoked salmon also comes with a’ pasteurized tag, ‘ which means it is cooked well.

The internal temperature of such salmon is taken to almost 165-degree Fahrenheit. Hot-smoked salmon smells aromatic and gives a pleasant smoky taste.

Also, they are brine-cured at high temperatures to enhance the flavor and give it a sweet & salty taste. It is straightforward to recognize hot smoked salmon. Their skin is firm and a bit brownish.

However, as the bringing is typically done with salt and sugar, it can be problematic for you if you have gestational diabetes or are anemic.  

Canned or Tinned Smoked Salmon

Canned smoked salmon on the store shelf are usually safe for consumption. They are also cooked at a high temperature which is above 165-degree Fahrenheit. However, you should look for the sodium content in tinned smoked salmon and opt for the low sodium ones.   

canned-smoked-salmon

Ways to Add Smoked Salmon into Your Pregnancy Diet

Smoked salmon is a delicious way to get those all-important omega-3 fatty acids while pregnant.  Get some tips on ensuring you get the most nutritional value out of this delicious food without overdoing it and putting your health at risk.

  • Bake, seer-fry, or poach your smoked salmon and include it as a side dish to your main meal. These methods ensure that smoked salmon is not only healthy but safe to eat for pregnant women.
  • Since sushi is made with cold-smoked salmon, avoid it. Instead, make your own cooked salmon sushi.
  • Replace chicken with cooked smoked salmon bits in your salads.
  • Opt for farmed salmon during pregnancy because Atlantic salmon contains traces of mercury, which is unsuitable for your developing baby’s nervous system.

Other Ways to Get Omega-3s During Pregnancy

Pregnant women need omega-3s for the development of their baby’s brain and nervous system. But if you want to avoid smoked salmon to stay on the safe side, worry not because there are other omega-3-rich foods available from mother nature.

The best way to get omega-3s is through food, such as

  • Fatty fish like tuna and cod (these are pretty low in sodium content)
  • Eggs
  • Flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds
  • Nuts
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Kale
  • Beans
  • Spinach

Even if you want to eat smoked salmon, ensure it has been cooked until its internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Things to Remember When Consuming Smoked Salmon During Pregnancy

While consuming smoked salmon when pregnant, keep these precautions in mind:

  • Always buy your smoked salmon from a trusted vendor or farmer to ensure the quality and freshness of the fish.
  • If you are eating at a restaurant, ask them where they source their salmon from. And what type of salmon are they providing? Cold-smoked or processed smoked salmon should be avoided.
  • Try to put as less spice to your salmon while cooking at home. Too much spice consumption is not healthy during pregnancy. And, cook your smoked salmon until it browns or the meat is white.
  • Always read the sodium content in the packaging of smoked salmon. If you have high blood pressure issues, it’s better to avoid it regardless of how it is brined.
  • Do not overeat smoked salmon. There is a specific limit on how much fish you can consume per week while pregnant. You should follow a pregnancy diet chart from a nutritionist.

FAQs

How much smoked salmon should pregnant women eat?

Pregnant women should limit their intake of smoked salmon to two servings per week, including the fully cooked ones. Smoked salmon may contain high sodium levels, which can harm the developing fetus. If you are not pregnant, eating up to 12 ounces of smoked salmon is safe per week.

Can pregnant women eat smoked salmon?

Some risks are associated with eating raw or cold smoked salmon during pregnancy. These include listeria, bacterial or parasitic growth, and other food-borne illnesses. However, there are also some benefits to eating smoked salmon during pregnancy. For example, it can help increase levels of omega-3 fatty acids in pregnant women, which is necessary for a developing baby’s brain development. But it should be fully cooked.

What is shelf stable smoked salmon?

Shelf stable is generally a food storage term describing the food on the shop shelf at room temperature. For smoked salmon, it means the fish is foil-wrapped immediately after it is smoked to retain freshness and quality till it is on the shelf. Once the foil seal is opened, it must be refrigerated.

Can pregnant women eat fish?

There is no negative correlation between pregnancy and fish. Yes, pregnant women can eat fish as it helps with the unborn baby’s cognitive development.

However, like every other food, fish consumption should be limited during pregnancy.  Ensure the fish you eat is cooked well to avoid germ or bacterial contamination.  

Final Thought

Although smoked salmon is tasty and nutritious food, eating raw and uncooked ones during pregnancy is highly discouraged. If you eat hot-smoked or fully cooked ones, ensure you don’t have issues with salt and sugar brine.

Now that you are fully aware of its pros and cons, it’s up to you whether or not to add smoked salmon to your pregnancy diet. For better suggestions, consult your nutritionist.

Dr. Rimita Farid

Dr. Rimita Farid

Hi this is Dr. Rimita Farid. I have completed my MBBS from MAHSA University in Kuala Lampur , Malaysia and currently a registered doctor in Bangladesh. I am training in Dermatology and Venerology and writing for me has been a hobby, even before i decided to be a doctor. I believe our lives are getting stressful with every moment and i believe writing is the solution to all our problems. The power of pen and paper is highly underestimated by many, and i am blessed that i realized how stimulating writing can be for my well being. Hope my articles are relatable and can reach as many readers as possible.

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