Crabs are among the tastiest seafood you can have. They contain wholesome nutrition that includes protein, omega-3 polyunsaturated acids, vitamins and minerals. But crabs may also contain contaminants like mercury. This brings up the question whether they are safe to eat during pregnancy. As with quite a few other issues, the rules change when a woman gets pregnant. Cravings set in for a wide variety of foods and you have to make adjustments for the sake of your baby. So, can you eat crab during pregnancy?
Can Pregnant Women Eat Crab?
Shellfish and fish guts may have high mercury levels and should be avoided as much as possible. When wondering whether you can eat crab when pregnant, remember that consumption of seafood comes with the risk of exposure to pollutants like dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls, and mercury.
Cholesterol levels in pregnant women should be monitored and if high, she should consult her doctor about eating crabs.
Can You Eat Snow Crab Legs While Pregnant?
Pregnant women can eat snow crab legs. However, excess amounts could be harmful because it is high in sodium. All in all, it contains a small amount of fat that is good for the body's daily needs. Pregnant women should not eat snow crab legs raw or half cooked. Frying, barbequing, steaming and boiling are all good options and they should be served with healthy toppings.
How to Safely Eat Crab During Pregnancy
Pregnant women's immune systems are already working hard to fight any harmful substances. Adding to this by eating the wrong food would be detrimental. So, can pregnant women eat crab and still be safe? Yes, if you discuss it with your doctor and take it in moderation.
1. Choose king crabs: King crab is the most safe seafood option during pregnancy. While varieties like blue crab or snow crab are popular, these may have high mercury levels and sometimes should be avoided.
Mercury has dangerous effects on the fetus; it can adversely influence brain and nervous system development. As a rule, crab should be taken in moderation, even if it is low in mercury.
2. Take advice from fish advisories: Checking with local fish advisories for the safety of available crab is a sound idea. Contamination levels are different everywhere, and caution is advised for any crab or fish that has been caught locally.
3. Do not eat raw or under-cooked crab: Heat destroys any harmful parasites and microorganisms in crab, so make sure it is completely cooked. If eaten undercooked, crabs are just as dangerous as other raw meats. Only if cooked really well can pregnant women eat crab.
4. Avoid frozen crab meat: Bacteria can be found in frozen meat, so frozen crab is not a good idea for pregnant women. Crabs that are packed in a sealed pouch or can are a safer option.
5. Handle in a hygienic way: Leftover food should be stored in the freezer, in an airtight container and when handling raw crab, separate utensils and tools should be used. Wash all utensils thoroughly.
What Are the Benefits of Eating Crab During Pregnancy?
Crabs can be beneficial. They are very rich in some nutrients. However, it is a good idea to talk with your doctor about it. Following are some benefits of eating crab during pregnancy:
1. Aids in Overall Fetal Development
Crabs contain vitamins A and D, proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. These can support a baby's development.
2. Boosts Immunity
It also contains antioxidants and amino acids which boost the mother's energy and immune function.
3. Fights Anemia
Crabs are rich in iron which helps protect a mother from anemia. It also helps keep hemoglobin levels healthy in the child, especially after birth.
4. Contains Calcium
Calcium is known to promote good teeth and bone development in the unborn child.
5. Low in Calories
Even pregnant women worry about weight gain, but crabs contain minimal calories.
6. Low in Cholesterol
If a mother's cholesterol levels are low or normal, she can go ahead and eat crabs; if high, she should talk to a doctor.
7. Contains Folate
Folate is necessary for preventing neural tube defects.
8. Rich Source of Protein
Can pregnant women eat crab as a source of protein? This is possible provided they don’t overdo it. The body uses proteins to build new cells and repair worn tissues. But because it doesn't create proteins, it is essential to consume food containing protein. Women need 46 grams of protein every day.
One ounce of crab meat has about 16.25 grams of protein. This protein aids fetus growth and body regeneration for the mother. The protein gained from eating crab can help bring a healthy baby into the world.
9. Rich in Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is vital in brain and spinal development in babies. About 3 ounces of crab meat contains 9.87 micrograms of the daily requirement of vitamin B12.
10. Source of Copper and Zinc
Crab meat supplies zinc and copper which are essential in the baby's development and in supporting the health of the mother.
Zinc aids in cell division as well as boosting immunity. It also helps the body's healing process and is vital in the development of the fetus. Copper is also important in boosting the immunity system.
Recommended Amount of Crab for Pregnant Women
The recommended amount would be up to 6 ounces for a pregnant woman. With the lowest mercury levels, king crab is the safest option. If eating other varieties of crab like snow crab or blue crab, limit it to no more than 6 oz in a month. It would be even better to avoid these varieties completely.