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Craving some delicious prawn dishes? Butter garlic prawns, prawn curry, stir-fried prawns dipped in sauce, prawn biryani, pepper prawns. The list goes on. Prawns belong to the crustacean group of sea creatures and are delicious. However, with many people suffering from allergic reactions to prawns, one wonders if eating prawns is safe during pregnancy.
Is it Safe to Eat Prawns When Pregnant?
While some seafood needs to be avoided during pregnancy, prawns are generally safe when procured from a non-polluted source and cooked thoroughly. However, during pregnancy, moderation is the key for every food you add to your list. Consuming prawns in excess or not adhering to certain precautions while consuming prawns can lead to adverse effects during pregnancy. In case of doubt, always consult your doctor before the consumption of any food item.
Health Benefits of Eating Prawns
Apart from being delicious, prawns are packed with minerals and vitamins essential for mommies-to-be.
Packed With Proteins
Prawns are an excellent source of proteins during pregnancy. Protein-rich foods help in stabilising blood sugar levels and keep gestational diabetes in check. Being low in calories and fat content, prawns will help you gain healthy muscle mass.
Rich in Vitamins
Prawns are a rich source of Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, iron, zinc, choline, iodine, copper, and phosphorus. Essential to improving immunity, thyroid function, and brain development, they are also helpful in the development of bones and teeth.
Rich in Other Nutrients
Prawns contain nutrients that are readily absorbed by our body and essential for our body to protect and heal itself. Selenium is an antioxidant that helps fight cell damage and protects against certain cancers. Amino acids help regenerate new cells and repair damaged cells. Astaxanthin has anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing properties. Prawns are rich in all these nutrients.
Low in Calories
During pregnancy, it is essential to gain healthy weight and get adequate nutrition. Prawns are low in calories and, thus, a healthier choice to add nutrition without consuming unnecessary fat.
Rich in Omega 3
This fatty acid is found abundantly in prawns. Studies have shown that it helps in developing the eyes and nerve connections in the foetus.
Should Prawns Be Avoided in Pregnancy?
As we just discussed, consuming prawns during pregnancy has several health benefits. However, it is still recommended that you check for the risks associated with consumption of prawns or any seafood with your doctor. If you are still unsure, start with small amounts and see how your body reacts to it. Your diet can then be changed accordingly. In any case, practice moderation and do not go overboard with any food. If your body accepts it, prawns can be very nutritious and healthy for both you and your baby.
Some pregnant women may face the risk of prawn allergy during pregnancy. Here are some risks associated with prawns during pregnancy and information on whether you need to be on your guard:
- Cholesterol: Prawns are a rich source of cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol, prawns may not be good for you or for the health of your unborn baby.
- Allergy: If you have shown allergic reactions to a similar group of food, it is advisable to keep away from prawns. They can cause reactions that include abdominal pains, itchiness, rashes, and inflammation.
- Mercury poisoning: Water pollutants and increased levels of toxic chemicals can create health problems if you consume prawns sourced from polluted waters. Prawns can absorb the pollutants into their body. Seawater prawns may contain a high level of mercury that can adversely affect the development of the baby’s nervous system. Contaminated river or lake waters contain high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls and pose a health risk to you and your baby.
- Infection: It is always recommended that you consume cooked prawns when pregnant. Raw or undercooked prawns are extremely harmful and associated with multiple health risks like blood poisoning, food poisoning, or other harmful infection to your baby.
Tips While Eating Prawns When Pregnant
- Always buy prawns from reliable and trusted sources. Ensure that they are thick and glossy; do not buy discoloured prawns or ones with shrunken eyes.
- Avoid raw seafood preparations like sushi during pregnancy. Dried prawns during pregnancy are fine if they are thoroughly cleaned and cooked.
- If you don’t have an option of fresh prawn, opt for good quality frozen ones and defrost them before cooking.
- Ensure that they are cleaned properly before cooking. You may cook them with or without the shell. Cooking with veins or deveining them is a personal preference.
- Clean and cook them thoroughly. Signs of well-cooked prawns include a red shell and pearly white or opaque flesh. You can soak them in a bowl of lukewarm salted water for about 10 minutes and wash them well.
- Avoid restaurant served seafood.
- Steam or sauté them till they are completely cooked. Make sure that the meat is firm and bouncy.
As long as prawns are eaten in moderation during pregnancy and sourced from reliable sources, there are unlikely to be any complications. If you experience any signs of discomfort or an allergy, immediately consult your doctor.
Also Read: Eating Fish in Pregnancy