Can I Eat Octopus While Pregnant? [Explained]

Sami S
Sami S

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To some people, octopus might sound like an adventurous dish. To others, it’s a delicacy.

Either way, if you’re wondering whether you can eat octopus while pregnant, this article has you covered.

Read on to find your answer and learn if octopus is high in mercury, if pregnant women can eat octopus ceviche, and if eating octopus is safe while breastfeeding.

Can I Eat Octopus While Pregnant?

Yes, pregnant women can eat octopus if it’s fully cooked.

According to the Mayo Clinic, an octopus is considered a shellfish. 

As such, shellfish is safe to consume while pregnant as long as it has been thoroughly cooked.

Safe cooking practices for octopus include grilling, boiling, or baking. To check if the octopus has been fully-cooked, slice the thickest part of the shellfish in half and ensure that it is internally hot, tender, and cooked all the way through.

The DGA recommends always cooking seafood to 145℉ when pregnant or cooking for pregnant women.

When cooked fully and adequately, an octopus is void of any harmful bacteria that could affect a pregnant mother and her baby.

Fully-cooked octopus also provides some benefits to pregnant women and their babies. For example, it is an excellent source of lean protein and iron and has a high content of beneficial vitamins like vitamin B12.

Is Octopus High in Mercury? 

No, octopus is not high in mercury.

The MFMA reports octopus as having low mercury levels, and the EDF classifies octopus with moderate mercury levels.

Exact levels of mercury depend on the size of the shellfish as well as where it was sourced. 

Since octopus is on the lower end of mercury content, it is safe to consume while pregnant in appropriate portions. 

Can I Eat Octopus Ceviche While Pregnant?

No, pregnant women should not eat octopus ceviche while pregnant.

Ceviche contains raw fish or shellfish marinated with spices and lime or lemon juice. 

Since it is raw, octopus ceviche can make pregnant women susceptible to food poisoning, or harmful bacteria that can cause listeriosis. 

According to the FDA, pregnant women are ten times more likely to contract listeriosis. Fetuses who contract listeriosis from their mothers can suffer from various health problems or even be miscarried in the first trimester.

Can I Eat Octopus While Breastfeeding?

Yes, pregnant women can eat octopus while breastfeeding as long as it is fully cooked and adequately portioned.

The CDC states the concern with seafood and breastfeeding as the transfer of mercury from the mother to the baby. When an infant is exposed to mercury, it can affect the development of their brain and nervous system.

Since octopus has low to medium mercury levels, it is safe to eat while breastfeeding if consumed in limited amounts.

As a general guide, Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that pregnant or breastfeeding women should try to eat 8 to 12 ounces of shellfish low in mercury a week.

For more information on dietary practices while breastfeeding, talk to your doctor.

Conclusion

Pregnant women can eat octopus as long as it is fully cooked.

Expectant mothers should avoid ceviche since it contains raw octopus and increases the risk of infections like listeriosis. 

Due to its low to moderate mercury levels, cooked octopus is safe to eat while breastfeeding in limited portions.

Sources:

https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/is-it-safe/mercury-levels-in-sushi/ 

https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish 

https://www.webmd.com/baby/safe-to-eat-ceviche-while-pregnant

https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/environmental-exposures/mercury.html 

https://www.fda.gov/food/health-educators/listeria-food-safety-moms-be

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/shellfish-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20377503

https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2021-12/DGA_Pregnancy_FactSheet-508c.pdf 

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