Fish with Omega 3 During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, omega-3 is one of the most important nutrients. Lack of omega 3 is believed to increase the risk of postnatal depression because it is essential for the development of your baby’s eyes and brain. High intakes of long-chain omega 3 have also been found to reduce the risk of premature birth in high-risk pregnancies (Olsen S F, Secher N J, 2002).
There is no doubt that fish is the best source of omega-3. Due to concerns about listeria and mercury toxicity, many women avoid fish altogether during pregnancy.
Because omega 3 is so important during pregnancy, we really want to focus on the foods we can eat to help boost omega 3 intake. Let’s go through the options.
Salmon steak is rich in omega 3, containing around 2g per 4 oz serving. It needs to be well cooked to minimize listeria risk. Although it contains some mercury, it is much less than many fish, as long as you’re not eating it more than three times per week. You can purchase salmon steak fresh from a reputable fish market or frozen from your local supermarket. It’s quick to cook and can be eaten as a steak with salad or steamed veg, or added to pasta or risotto. It’s best to leave the skin on because that is where most of the omega-3 is.
Canned tuna typically contains less mercury compared to fresh tuna. This is because the tuna species used in canning are smaller and usually caught before they reach one year of age. It is safe for pregnant women to eat a small can of tuna every day if they’re not eating any other fish. During pregnancy, it’s important to choose safe and practical lunch options. Canned tuna is a great choice because it’s easy to prepare and has a low risk of listeria contamination. It’s a convenient and healthy addition to your diet. A can of tuna contains approximately 350mg of omega-3 fats.
Sardines are quite high in salt, so it’s important to careful if you have high blood pressure. Sardines are a rich source of omega 3, containing a whopping 24g/100g, and have a very low level of mercury compared to other fish. Being canned, they also have a low risk of listeria toxicity and they’re a great source of calcium. If you’re new to eating sardines, a good place to begin is by purchasing reduced-salt canned sardines from your nearby grocery store. You can enjoy them in a sandwich, salad, or on top of dry crackers, much like you would with canned tuna.
Trout is incredibly rich in omega 3 fats, containing around 15g of omega 3 in a 100g serving…. it is also relatively low in mercury. Trout is usually eaten fresh, so you will need to be careful of listeria. Only purchase trout from reputable fish stores, and be aware of freezing, thawing and re-freezing. It’s most ideal to eat it as fresh as possible… don’t let listeria stop you from eating trout…. just be sensible with your food hygiene.
For those of you who are still feeling hesitant about eating fish during pregnancy, try increasing your intake of vegetarian omega-3 foods.
Flaxseeds are one of the best vegetarian sources of omega-3 fats. Flaxseeds contain a type of omega 3 called ALA, which requires conversion into the longer-chain omega 3 found in fish. This longer-chain omega 3 is known for its exceptional health benefits. Unfortunately, you need to eat a lot of vegetarian ALA omega 3 to meet your requirements of long-chain omega 3, but it’s better than nothing. Increase your intake of flaxseeds by swapping to soy and flaxseed bread, adding a spoon of flaxseeds to a salad for some additional crunch, or sprinkling some ground flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds, known as LSA mix, over your breakfast cereal or into a smoothie. The best part about eating vegetarian sources of omega-3 is that there are no worries at all about listeria or mercury!
The other option for boosting your omega 3 intake is to take an omega 3 supplement. I’d really encourage you to try to get your omega 3 from your diet, as eating fish has so many other health benefits in addition to the omega 3.
Do you need assistance with planning your fish intake for the week to ensure you are getting the recommended three servings? Radically Rooted can help create a meal plan for you that meets your nutrition requirements.