Pregnancy and Fish Q&A + A Weeknight Salmon Recipe
- February 23, 2018
- Last Updated: May 26, 2020
- 14 Comments
This post is sponsored by Pier 33 Gourmet.
Happy Friday!! I have a fun and easy weeknight salmon recipe to share with you today! However, since next Friday marks the beginning of March, I wanted to make sure I acknowledge heart health before February ends because February is Heart Health Month.
This is a big one in the nutrition world because heart disease is the leading cause of death. Aside from athletes and people looking to improve their relationship with food, I see many patients with high blood pressure, or a family history of heart disease. So, we talk a lot about the necessary lifestyle changes for their health. Here’s the post I wrote about heart health last year, too. Clearly, this topic speaks to me.
And if you’re looking for some heart healthy recipes, here ya go!
Other heart healthy recipes:
- Sheetpan Breaded Honey Mustard Salmon
- Sheetpan Honey Ginger Shrimp
- Turmeric Zucchini Salmon Patties
- Lentil Tahini Dip
- Shrimp Tacos with Watermelon Pineapple Salsa
- Sweet Potato, Beet and Quinoa Scramble
- No Bake PB Trail Mix Bites
I often compare heart healthy foods to pregnancy foods. Pregnant women are told to get the 2-3 servings of fish/week (as long as it’s not high mercury), as well as ample fiber, hydration, calcium, all of which are also very important for heart health.
I get many questions from clients about fish during pregnancy and what’s acceptable. So, I figured a Q&A post would be ideal for this!
How much fish is safe to eat during pregnancy?
Here’s a great chart from the FDA. Many women think they need to stay away from fish completely because of the mercury. That’s not true – many fish have lower levels of mercury than others. We just need to limit the seafood with higher amounts of mercury, like that found in certain types of tuna (albacore, yellowfin), snapper, rockfish, mahi mahi, halibut, grouper and more. These with moderate amounts of mercury are allowed about once/week. The FDA recommends avoiding fish with the highest mercury levels, like king mackerel, shark, swordfish and tilefish.
I don’t know about you guys, but those aren’t typically the fish I consume anyway. The best choices, and those that you can have multiple (2-3) servings per week, include common sources, like salmon, canned light tuna, scallops, shrimp, flounder and haddock. The FDA recommends about 8-12 ounces of low mercury seafood each week.
Research has actually shown that women lose out on greater health benefits by skipping seafood during pregnancy.
Why is Mercury Harmful?
Mercury collects in oceans and other bodies of water. Therefore, it may accumulate in some fish and act as a neurotoxin. In high quantities to us, it can be toxic to our nervous systems and can affect our babies. Mercury has also been linked to hearing and vision problems.
As with many things, it’s more harmful to us during vulnerable times, like pregnancy and growing a baby.
What are the health benefits of Seafood?
Low-mercury seafood options, particularly salmon, is full of health benefits and omega 3 fatty acids. Seafood has many health benefits for pregnancy, including lean protein, and nutrients like zinc, B-12, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, selenium, iron and iodine – all of which are vital for mom and the growing baby.
While most women may need to take omega-3 supplements during pregnancy, including omega-3 rich foods in the diet is helpful and should be a priority. Oftentimes, the foods have so many more nutrients to offer that work in concert, vs just taking an isolated supplement.
Why Are Omega 3’s important?
Omega 3 fats are essential, meaning we have to get them from our diets or through supplementation. Our bodies cannot make them. The two omega 3‘s that are found in fish are EPA and DHA. EPA helps with the heart, developing immune system and inflammatory response. DHA, on the other hand, supports the baby’s growing brain, eyes and central nervous system. It’s common for women to experience increased blood pressure during pregnancy (due to the weight gain and blood volume), and omega 3’s can help with this. Some research even shows that omega 3’s can lower the risk for pre-eclampsia and pre-term labor and delivery.
I like to think of it this way. During pregnancy, there’s only so much you can control. For example, you can’t control how much weight you gain (more on my thoughts here), how big your baby is, what position your baby is in, medical complications, etc. But, you can control what you’re eating and ensuring your getting enough omega 3’s. Which is why I love Pier 33 Gourmet’s seafood options. They have so many convenient options, ranging from Argentine shrimp, mussels ready in 10 minutes, to pre-seasoned salmon filets.
I plan to share more about my pregnancy eats and updates in my 35 week update next week!
An Easy Weeknight Salmon Recipe
Lucky for me, I’ve always enjoyed fish and salmon. Since I’ve figured out how to make it a quick weeknight meal, I’ve been pretty consistent about getting my 2-3 servings of fish a week in. Plus, my favorite Pier 33 Salmon filets make cooking salmon a breeze.
Since salmon has low levels of mercury, it’s a great choice for seafood during pregnancy. Learning how to cook fish has been so helpful for getting adequate omega-3’s and not having to rely on supplementation. Luckily, it’s easy and quick to cook at home! When clients ask how to cook fish, this is the easy recipe I share with them.
For this quick recipe, mix balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, dijon mustard, garlic and sea salt. Stir well. I don’t measure but it probably turns out to be 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp maple syrup, 1-2 tbsp dijon mustard and 1 tsp minced garlic. Also, I like to sprinkle some sea salt and sesame seeds on it before serving.
I cook mine about 3-5 minutes on the first side, and then the second side usually quicks cooker. So make sure to watch it! I usually pour half of the marinade on the top half of the salmon while it’s cooking, and pour the other half over just before serving, but you can do it however you want!
If I’ve planned for this recipe, I may let the salmon sit in this mixture for a few hours or even marinate all day. But if not, I promise it still tastes good.
I usually pair the salmon with rice or another grain and some greens and chow down! Or, pair your salmon over this delicious broccoli kale salad!
And voila – super simple and tasty. Let me know if you give this recipe a try!
Do you prefer baking, grilling, or sauteing fish? Do you have a go to recipe?
I have a newly pregnant friend who was just talking about mercury in fish this weekend! Passing this onto her now!
How exciting! I hope she finds it helpful 🙂
I love baked fish or grilled fish! 🙂 I also like pan frying it, so I guess I’m game for anything!
I’m like you – I”ll eat it any way 🙂
So much great information and I love that infographic/printable!
I found it so helpful!
I love salmon, I wish the hubs liked it more. Skillet cooking it is probably my favorite, I like when it has a bit of a sear on it. Thanks for the recipe and info!
The sear can be delicious. Also, skillet is sometimes quicker and easier when I don’t feel like turning on the oven.
Pan frying Salmon is kind of an art, mine always ends up sticking to the pan and burning (I know more oil, less heat but I’m a high heat kind of person – no ideal in cooking) tonight is shrimp taco night though!
Haha, I love my olive oil so I never have a problem using more oil. Fish cooks pretty quickly, too!
Great, simple recipe!
With mercury levels, do you know – is it more to do with the fishing company/brand/source, or more to do with the type of fish? Should cans etc. have labels on them saying “no mercury” etc? Or, how do we watch this?
That’s a good question! I think certain fish have naturally higher levels because they eat other fish (i.e. shark, swordfish, king mackerel, etc). However, all fish are exposed but the lower levels generally aren’t as worrisome. But, I think environmental factors can also play in – like some areas may have more mercury released through industrial pollution, which can fall into the waters too. There’s some interesting info here: https://www.fda.gov/food/foodborneillnesscontaminants/metals/ucm351781.htm
I actually don’t eat seafood but I know Omega-3s are so good for me. Is there anything to look for in a supplement that makes it “good” or “bad”?
Supplements can be tricky because they aren’t regulated by the FDA! If you can find a USP verification label, that’s always a good sign that means it’s been third party tested and vertified.