Fish, full of crucial nutrients and lean protein, usually falls in the list of foods recommended for pregnant women. However, the topic becomes complicated when it comes to specific species, like cod.
Why does this particular type of fish raise questions, and can you safely consume cod during pregnancy?
This article is going to unravel the facts, break down all the myths and direct you to a healthier diet.
Can you eat cod during pregnancy?
Yes, pregnant women can eat cod. According to the Mayo Clinic and other health organizations, eating fish during pregnancy can be both safe and healthy and cod is no exception. It is specifically listed as safe for pregnant women to consume.
Additionally the FDA and EPA in their recommendations also emphasized that pregnant and breastfeeding women can take 8 to 12 ounces of low-mercury fishes every week. And cod still makes it up to the list because it is a low mercury fish.
However, it’s important to ensure that you properly cook to an internal temperature of 145 F or 63C to eliminate bacteria or parasites that could come with it.
What is the nutritional information for cod?
Cod is known to be very rich in proteins. Consequently, it has very little fats which makes it generally healthy for everyone.
Talking about vitamins, this fish is among the top fishes enriched in high amounts of vitamins. It contains Vitamin B, Phosphorus, Selenium and D Vitamin
This is the nutritional information for 180g serving of this greyfish:
- 189 Calories
- 41 grams of Protein
- 1.5 grams of Total Fat
- 0 grams each of Total Carbohydrates, Dietary Fiber, Sugars
- 99mg of Cholesterol
- 140mg of Sodium
- 2.2mcg of Vitamin D
- 25mg of Calcium
It’s essential to note that the exact nutritional profile can vary slightly based on the type of cod you’re getting.
For instance, Atlantic burbot may contain slightly more fat, and how it’s prepared (breadings or seasonings) might add carbohydrates.
Health benefits of cod in pregnancy
There are a lot of health benefits that come with the consumption of cod. These include
- Development of your baby’s brain and eyes: The iodine and omega-3 fatty acids present in this fish helps your baby’s brain to develop. It also gives him or her clearer, whittier and healthier eyes.
- Increase your blood stores: Cod is rich in iron which is important in increasing blood stores while preventing anaemia in both you and your baby.
- Growth of foetus: For its high lean protein content, cod helps the better growth of your baby while supporting healthier muscles in you.
- Maintain healthy skin and nerves: When you eat it in pregnancy, you can be sure of maintaining a healthier skin and nerves due to the presence of high amounts of vitamins. Vitamin B is also helpful in converting food into energy sources for fuel.
- Development of baby’s spinal cord: Choline in this greyfish also helps the development of your baby’s spinal cord during pregnancy.
- Formation of baby’s gum bone prints: Your baby also gets his or her jawlines and gums formed healthily when you consume cod for its high phosphorus content.
- Cell protection: Cod is also packed with antioxidants that protects bodily cells from damage as well as boosting your immune system.
- Heart health benefits: Pregnant women who have inconsistent blood pressure levels can also incorporate cod into their diet as it is known to help with regulating blood pressure levels and supporting healthier heart in mom and baby.
- Reduced risk of neurological damage to foetus: For its low mercury content, you can also be sure of reducing risk of neurological damage to the foetus.
How much cod can you eat when pregnant?
Per the recommendations of the FDA, it is safe and healthy to consume up to 12-ounce serving of cod every week.
You should make sure you eat it well cooked and garnished to prevent any contamination and illness.
You should also be mindful on your intake of fish in general during pregnancy as some fishes contain high concentrations of mercury, which can be harmful to your health and your baby’s.
Is cod high in mercury?
Cod is considered very low in mercury as compared to some other fishes. This makes it a safer option to consume during pregnancy.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, this grey fish is known to contain only 0.11ppm of mercury, which is a very small mercury content that can be consumed in pregnancy.
What are some cod recipes to choose when pregnant?
When you’ve finally decided on consuming cod, then it is also necessary incorporate it in the right recipes that ensures balanced diet and healthy nutrition.
Some safe cod recipes for pregnant women include:
- Oven-Fried Fish with Potato Salad: This recipe offers a healthier take on fried fish by baking it in the oven. Plus, it pairs well with a light potato salad.
- Deviled Cod with Winter Greens: A dish that combines healthy greens with the flavorsome addition of panko and parsley coated cod. The mayonnaise, mustard, and cayenne sauce adds a wonderful tang.
- Foil-Packet Fish with Marinara, Veggies, and Cilantro-Lime Rice: This meal from Sunny Anderson is not only delicious but also easy to clean up. It involves using foil packets to cook seasoned veggies with marinara and cod, served over a bed of cilantro-lime rice.
- Pan-Seared Pacific Cod with Cilantro Vinaigrette and Creamed Corn: In this recipe, the cod is pan-seared and served with a tangy, fresh cilantro vinaigrette. The creamed corn adds a sweet, creamy note to the dish.
Remember, all fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 F or 63C to ensure they’re safe to eat during pregnancy.
Guidelines for properly cooking cod
Cooking fish like cod properly is vital to ensure it’s safe to eat especially during pregnancy but also to maximize the nutritional value. Here are some guidelines you can follow as you prepare it:
- Proper Cooking Temperature: Cod should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) as guided by the FDA. Using a cooking thermometer is helpful to ensure proper doneness.
- Cooking Method: Use cooking methods that help to preserve the nutritional value:
- Grilling/Baking: These methods require few additional fats and retain key nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Poaching/Steaming: Cooking cod in water or steam can help with retaining delicate nutrients and requires no additional fat.
- Limit Processed Ingredients: Limit the use of processed sauces and ingredients that might add unnecessary fats, sugars, or sodium to your meal.
- Fresh Ingredients: Use fresh or dried herbs and spices to enhance flavor without adding unhealthy ingredients.
- Minimize Cooking Time: Overcooking can destroy some nutrients. Cooking the cod just until it reaches the right internal temperature helps retain the maximum nutrients.
- Liquid Use: When you are poaching or steaming cod, you should use very little water so as to prevent essential nutrients from leaching out.
It’s important to remember that pregnant women have only 8 to 12 ounces seafood allowance for a week as per the recommendation made by the FDA.
That said, it’s important to focus on seafood high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury, like cod.
What are some cod alternative fishes which are safe to consume during pregnancy?
What are the types of fish to avoid during pregnancy?
While most fishes are generally healthy, some fish types are known to be contaminated and contain high levels of mercury which makes it unhealthy for consumption, especially during pregnancy.
Such fish types to avoid include:
- King mackerel
- Telfish (harvested from Gulf of Guinea)
- Tuna (albacore and tuna steaks)
Cod is safe to eat during pregnancy. This fish contains enough proteins, vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids and low mercury level that makes it undoubtedly a healthy option for you and the baby.
However, you need to make sure you cook it very well before consumption. Be mindful to cook cod in a temperature not less than 60 C to kill all possible bacteria and pathogens.
While this fish might be your favorable choice, avoid consuming excessively. Instead, make it as part of a diverse and balanced diet incorporating fruits and vegetables.