Can You Eat Calamari While Pregnant?

With so many do's and don'ts revolving around pregnancy, especially what you should and should not be eating, it's easy to get confused. Seafood is typically a nutritious food choice and provides several health benefits. The omega threes found in fish are thought to ward off disease, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, eating fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel twice a week can help prevent heart disease.

When pregnant, eating fish is a wonderfully healthy option for you and your growing baby. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that pregnant women should eat fish throughout pregnancy, citing that it may help improve a baby's cognitive development. They advise eating up to eight to 12 ounces of low mercury fish each week.

While eating salmon and tuna is delicious and nutritious, sometimes you're just dying for a simple plate of calamari. Here's what you should know when the craving strikes.

Calamari has great health benefits

Though the word calamari translates to squid in Italian, calamari is just one type of squid. There are actually over 500 types of squid (via Livestrong). Calamari is used in cooking because it's a very tender type of squid. This makes it preferable for chefs as it can be cooked and eaten in many ways.

Raw squid contains vitamins such as calcium, iron, and vitamin C (via WebMD). Four ounces of raw squid is only 104 calories and contains 18 grams of protein. In addition, squid, like fish, contains omega 3s. Besides helping improve heart health due to omega threes, calamari contains a fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This acid is found in higher amounts in squid, more than in other fish and seafood, and helps regulate resting heart rate.

Though healthy, you have to be careful how it's prepared because deep-frying it can add hundreds of extra calories as well as a heavy amount of artery-clogging oil.

Yet with all the benefits of calamari, some precautions should be taken during pregnancy.


Calamari is safe during pregnancy if cooked thoroughly

The risk when eating seafood, especially when pregnant, revolves around whether that type of fish contains high mercury levels. Calamari is actually low in mercury and contains 0.024 parts per million (via FDA). That is lower than the mercury found in tuna and swordfish.

However, there is a risk when eating calamari and it all has to do with how it's cooked. Food-borne illness is more serious when pregnant because pregnancy places your immune system in a weakened state so it's more difficult to fight off germs and pathogens (via MedicalNews Today).

Calamari, and all fish and meat, should be thoroughly cooked. Though it can be eaten raw in sushi and in other dishes, during pregnancy you should avoid raw calamari. Your seafood should reach 145°F (62.8°C) in order to be cooked thoroughly and not be left out at room temperature.