Fish with methyl mercury
Fish is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, integral in the development of your baby’s brain and vision. Yet, because of coal plant pollution, most of the world’s fish population is contaminated with methyl mercury.
Methyl mercury is a neurotoxin and causes neurological damage, developmental delays and learning deficits. Although the FDA has issued warnings on certain fish species, the US Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) states that independent studies have shown a need for more rigorous limitation of certain fish species.
The graph below is based on their findings.
|safe to consume during pregnancy||limit to approximately one serving per week||do not consume while pregnant!|
Trying to get enough uncontaminated fish in your diet is understandably difficult; using a mercury calculator will help you figure how much mercury you’re ingesting with your fish.
You can also get other sources of the nutrients found in fish. You may want to make up for Omega-3s by eating crushed flaxseed with your breakfast or snacking on walnuts. While flaxseed and walnuts have about a fifth of the Omega-3s, it may be the safer option until pressure is put on industries that contaminate our waters.
Pregnancy diets deficient in Omega-3s will result in children with behavioral problems and abnormal vision.
Farm-Raised Fish : PCBs
As if you didn’t already have enough on your plate. Fish farming raises a number of health and environmental concerns. Farm-raised fish have significantly higher levels of PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, for a number of reasons.
Because PCBs embed themselves in fat, ‘fatter’ farm-raised fish are rich in this cancer-causing toxin. And while you may think the nutrients of fish even out the dangerous effects of PCBs, farm-raised fish are considerably less nutritious than their wild counterparts. This is because farm-raised fish don’t have the opportunity to fulfill their natural and healthy diets.
Therefore, stay away from farm-raised fish at the supermarket; farm-salmon is typically labeled "Atlantic" or "Icelandic", while wild salmon is named "Alaskan" or simply "Wild". Be sure to ask your fishmonger what waters your fish comes from.
Read on to learn more about common food allergies that can be dangerous in pregnancy and about food preparation safety tips.
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