Pregnancy causes many changes in your body, both physically and hormonally.
And hormonal changes can influence not only your mood but also your eating habits. Some pregnant women have food aversions, which cause them to vomit just thinking about eating certain foods. Others, on the other hand, have strong cravings for certain foods.
And what if you suddenly find yourself craving fried calamari (squid) with marinara sauce and a squeeze of lemon? Is that all right?
You’ve probably heard that some seafood is good for pregnant women, with omega-3s and all. Can you eat calamari when pregnant? The short answer is yes; let us find it in detail.
What is calamari? Can you eat calamari when pregnant?
Calamari is an Italian phrase that means “squid.” It generally refers to a battered, deep-fried appetizer served in restaurants and bars in the United States, though some people use it interchangeably with the main ingredient, squid. Squid is popular in many Mediterranean countries. It is also popular in Asia.
Squid is used in paella, risotto, soups, and pasta in Spain and Italy, and lulas, grilled whole kebabs of squid rings with bell peppers and onions, are popular in Portugal. Fresh squid is frequently served deep-fried in Korea, then wrapped in lettuce leaves with mustard or chili sauce.
Squid is grilled and sold at food kiosks and stands in many Asian countries, including China, Thailand, Japan, and Taiwan. In Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisine, more heavily spiced squid can be found in stir-fries, rice, and noodle dishes.
Can you eat calamari when pregnant? The flesh is tight and white, with a gentle, sweet, almost nutty flavor (if you are not allergic to the nutty flavor, you can ideally eat it). Small fried squid are frequently tight and chewy but not springy. You can have fried calamari with a garlicky aioli or marinara sauce for dipping, and squid readily absorbs the dish’s flavor in any preparation (so try it anytime!).
During pregnancy, squid is good seafood for you because of its mild flavor; it’s a versatile protein that cooks quickly and works well in various dishes, making it a good weeknight option instead of the old standby chicken. You can have fried calamari with salt, lemon, or dipping sauce.
Can you eat calamari when pregnant? What is the story with mercury?
Calamari and other seafood are high in nutrients and should be included in a pregnant woman’s diet.
Many individuals are worried about the mercury content of seafood, particularly when pregnant. Fears of mercury can even keep pregnant women from reaping the benefits of fish.
Mercury is an ingredient that occurs naturally in the environment. It can be found in the air, water, and soil. However, prolonged mercury exposure can be toxic to humans as heavy metals. Mercury poisoning can affect brain, kidney, lung, and heart function.
Some seafood contains more mercury than others. High levels of mercury exposure during pregnancy, such as eating polluted shellfish or grains contaminated with mercury, can harm fetal development, cause cognitive impairment, and increase the risk of cerebral palsy.
However, recent research has discovered that there isn’t a lot of solid evidence linking moderate levels of mercury from seafood consumption in pregnant women with impaired fetal development.
In fact, fish consumption is known to benefit fetal development and maternal health, as demonstrated by a 2018 study.
Can you eat calamari when pregnant? While it is critical to avoid seafood that is high in mercury, such as king mackerel, shark, tilefish, swordfish, bigeye tuna, and marlin, avoiding other seafood due to mercury is an unnecessary concern. In fact, the recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise pregnant women to consume 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week. So, you can easily consume calamari.
Despite its mercury content, can you eat calamari when pregnant?
Again, mercury levels vary by seafood species, with some containing more mercury than others. Pregnant women should avoid seafood with the highest mercury levels, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The good news for calamari fans is that it does not contain a high mercury level, making it a safe choice during pregnancy if consumed in moderation.
According to the FDA, calamari is one of the best seafood choices for pregnant women or women who may become pregnant. Calamari contains 0.024 parts per million (PPM) mercury, much lower than the amounts found in sharks, swordfish, tuna, and marlin.
Because of the low mercury content of calamari, you can safely consume two to three servings per week. A serving size is equal to 4 ounces.
Consuming about five ounces of calamari once a week is considered safe and beneficial to your developing baby during pregnancy.
If you are allergic to calamari, avoid it during pregnancy. Before eating seafood, consult your doctor to determine whether you require it in your pregnancy diet.
Can you eat calamari when pregnant? Is It Always Safe?
Can you eat calamari when pregnant? Calamari is only safe to eat while pregnant if it is fully cooked and fresh (or was fresh when it was frozen). You can eat fully cooked calamari or squid at any stage of pregnancy, including the first trimester.
Undercooked or raw seafood, such as calamari, should be avoided by pregnant women due to the risk of bacterial contamination.
Because calamari has a tough texture, there are two ways to cook it: quickly or slowly. Anything in between produces an unpleasant ‘rubbery’ texture.
Can you eat calamari when pregnant, even if it is fried?
When pregnant, you can eat fried calamari as long as it’s fully cooked – which it usually is because it’s deep-fried.
Breading or battering calamari does not affect its pregnancy safety, but it does affect its nutritional value. Calamari or squid is a wholesome, lean protein on its own, but eating it deep-fried, often with a heavy dipping sauce, adds calories and fat.
You can eat fried calamari safely, but try to limit your intake of fatty, deep-fried foods during pregnancy. It’s worth noting that fried calamari almost always comes with a dipping sauce. So, if you are concerned about fat intake, have it occasionally.
Can you eat calamari when pregnant? Is it healthy?
Calamari’s healthiness is determined by how it is prepared (steamed, roasted, or broiled are all better than fried), but it can be a nutritious addition to your pregnancy diet.
Calamari is low in fat and calories and high in protein when eaten without a battered, fried coating. It’s also high in vitamin B12, selenium, and zinc.
Squid contains 260mg of cholesterol per 100g. If you’re watching your cholesterol levels, you might want to eat less calamari and instead opt for other seafood options.
Unless otherwise advised, eating high-cholesterol foods may not raise your blood cholesterol level, and you can safely consume squid/calamari in moderation as part of a healthy pregnancy diet.
Can you eat calamari when pregnant? How should you prepare calamari?
Although calamari is safe to eat during pregnancy, you must properly cook it. This seafood can be prepared in various ways, including frying, sautéing, baking, and grilling.
Squid can also be seared, but avoid doing so while pregnant. While the outside may be cooked, the inside may be raw, putting you and your child at risk of illness.
You should thoroughly cook seafood to an internal temperature of 145°F (62.8°C). It’s necessary to store any leftovers in the refrigerator as soon as possible after cooking. It only takes 1 to 2 hours for harmful bacteria to grow at room temperature.
Instead of eating deep-fried calamari rings, squid can be a delicious part of your pregnancy diet if you get a little more adventurous with it. Other cooking methods to avoid during pregnancy include:
- Calamari Grilled: Calamari cooks quickly on the grill and is low in fat (which produces flare-ups and chemical compounds that you should avoid when pregnant). Calamari can be grilled safely with a foil shield, but only for a short period, as you should avoid grilled foods during pregnancy.
- Whole Baby Squid: Calamari and squid aren’t always available in large tubes or slices. You can eat the entire thing, tentacles and all, which is quite common in some cuisines. If cooked, the entire squid is edible and safe to consume while pregnant.
- Salt and Pepper Squid: This is a popular Chinese snack that you can make with either whole baby squid or calamari pieces. The same rules apply: if it’s cooked, it’s safe. The batter makes no difference, but it does add calories and fat, so consume salt and pepper squid in moderation while pregnant.
Can you eat calamari when pregnant? Check out the safest boiled calamari recipe
Can you eat calamari when pregnant? Boiled calamari is the safest recipe to have during your pregnancy. So, here we go with the simple yet tasty recipe for you!
- Squid 500 g (cleaned and chopped into rings)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon grape vinegar
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves (crushed or grated)
- 1 red onion, small (chopped in half a moon shape)
- 12-15 medium black olives (if you remove the seeds and cut them in half, it would be fine.)
- Cherry tomatoes 5-6 small (cut in half)
- 1 red bell pepper – cut it into thin slices
- 1 bunch of fresh parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon basil
- Salt, black pepper
The preparation of the boiled calamari recipe
Step One: Prepare the ice water mixture on one side.
Step Two: Boil the squid for about 2-3 minutes, or until the color turns opaque, in a deep saucepan and drain on a colander. Cool it by immersing them in an ice-water mixture.
Step Three: With the help of a colander, drain the water.
Step Four: In a small mixing bowl, combine the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.
Step Five: In a large salad bowl, combine the squid, onion, olives, tomatoes, red peppers, parsley, and basil.
Step Six: Add the prepared sauce and gently combine.
Can you eat calamari when pregnant? What are the health benefits of calamari?
Calamari is not only delicious, but it also has nutrients that are beneficial during pregnancy. Calamari, for example, is high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary during pregnancy because they aid in fetal brain development. Calamari is also high in protein, vitamin E, copper, B12, zinc, selenium, and iron, all essential nutrients during pregnancy.
Nutritional Facts of calamari
A 4-ounce serving of Calamari contains the following nutrients:
- 104 calories
- 18-gram protein
- 2 grams of fat
- 3-gram carbohydrate
- 0-gram fiber
Calamari is also an excellent source of:
- C vitamin
Can you eat calamari when pregnant? Look at the 7 benefits a pregnant woman can get from calamari!
- A Good Protein Source
Calamari is a reasonable source of protein, with 15.6 grams per 100 g serving. Calamari is also a complete protein containing adequate amounts of all nine essential amino acids.
Calamari’s complete amino acid profile per 100 grams is as follows: 0.94 g alanine, 1.14 g arginine, 1.50 g aspartic acid, 0.20 g Cystine, 2.12 g Glutamic acid, 0.97 g glycine, 0.30 g histidine, 0.68 g isoleucine, 1.10 g leucine, 1.16 g lysine, 0.35 g methionine, 0.56 g phenylalanine, 0.64 g proline, 0.70 g Serine, 0.67 g threonine, 0.17 g tryptophan, 0.50 g tyrosine, and 0.68 g valine.
- Calamari is high in Omega-3 fatty acids
Though oily fish like salmon and mackerel are the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, most seafood contains varying amounts of these essential fatty acids.
Calamari contains 0.50 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per 100 grams, which is a reasonable serving size.
Omega-3 fatty acids play numerous important roles in the human body, and research indicates that they have anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce the risk of several chronic diseases.
Furthermore, calamari contains almost no omega-6, which may be advantageous for those attempting to maintain a better omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.
Some researchers believe maintaining an evolutionary-appropriate omega-6 to 3 ratios is important for human health.
- Mercury levels are low
Worries about the purity of fish and seafood, in general, have persisted in recent years. On the other hand, Calamari appears to be one of the least contaminated types of seafood.
Can you eat calamari when pregnant? Based on mercury levels in commercial seafood between 1990 and 2012, the average mercury content of squid was 0.024 PPM. So, you can have calamari without worrying much.
The list below compares the mercury level of squid to other popular seafood choices for more clarity on squid’s relative mercury concentration.
- Squid: 0.024 PPM
- Herring: 0.078 PPM
- Lobster: 0.107 PPM
- Crab: 0.065 PPM
- Shark: 0.979 PPM
- Cod: 0.111 PPM
- Trout: 0.071 PPM
- Albacore tuna: 0.350 PPM
- Sardine: 0.013 PPM
Squid, as shown, has one of the lowest mercury concentrations of any commercial seafood sample. Except for sardines, squid contains less mercury than all other seafood in this instance.
- Choline is present
Choline is a vitamin-like nutrient that is especially beneficial to brain and liver health.
While getting enough choline in our diet can be difficult, some foods provide a good nutrient source.
Eggs are the finest source of dietary choline, with one cooked egg providing approximately 117 mg.
Can you eat calamari when pregnant? Squid, on the other hand, is an excellent source of choline, with approximately 65 mg per 100-gram serving.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey says, only 10.8 percent of Americans meet the adequate intake (AI) recommendations for choline. So calamari is helpful during pregnancy!
- Rich in Selenium
Can you eat calamari when pregnant? Calamari contains high levels of selenium, an important mineral with antioxidant properties.
Selenium activates various selenoproteins in the human body, which can improve immune response and help to protect against a variety of health issues. Thus, it is helpful to boost your immunity during pregnancy.
Calamari contains approximately 44.8 mcg of selenium per 100-gram serving, equivalent to 64% of the RDA.
- Copper is found in high concentrations in calamari
Copper is a mineral that is essential for bone health, cardiovascular and nervous systems, red blood cell formation, and iron metabolism.
Copper is also the most potent nutrient in calamari, with 100 grams providing 1.9 mg or 95 percent of the daily recommended intake.
- Density of Nutrients
Can you eat calamari when pregnant? Calamari, as previously discussed, contains various beneficial nutrients ranging from protein and omega-3 to selenium and copper.
However, this popular seafood is also high in nutrients.
The concentration of nutrients in a specific food relative to its energy (calorie) density is referred to as nutrient density.
Calamari is extremely nutrient-dense, with 100 grams providing all these nutrients for only 92 calories. So, calamari is very safe to eat.
What other seafood can you eat with calamari when pregnant?
Can you eat calamari when pregnant? Calamari isn’t the only type of seafood that’s safe to eat while pregnant. Other low mercury seafood, such as scallops, oysters, shrimp, and clams, can also be consumed safely.
Other low mercury fish include:
- the white fish
Two to three servings of low mercury fish per week are permissible.
Grouper, mahi-mahi, snapper, white croaker, and bluefish are also excellent choices. This group of fish can be consumed once per week.
So, can you eat calamari when pregnant? When a craving for calamari strikes during pregnancy, you can and should indulge in this nutrient-dense seafood.
Calamari has a high nutritional value and a low mercury level compared to other seafood. As a result, it is thought to be beneficial to pregnant women and their developing fetuses. Calamari is safe to eat after steaming or sautéing it with fresh vegetables.
Remember to cook it well and not consume it raw during pregnancy. Fry it when you want, boil it when you want, but have it safe every time!
It’s high in nutrients that benefit your health and your growing baby. To reap the benefits of calamari, add it to salads or other recipes – bon appetit!