Crawfish are many people’s favorite seafood. They are especially popular in the southern United States where they are often boiled with other types of seafood, sausage, and vegetables. But despite their popularity and health benefits, there is some controversy surrounding eating crawfish while pregnant. So to put all your fears to rest, we’ve gathered all the information you need to know about whether or not you can eat crawfish while pregnant.
What is a Crawfish?
Also known as crayfish, crawdad, and mudbugs, crawfish are freshwater shellfish that resemble miniature lobsters. They are found in streams, ponds, and lakes throughout the world and are especially popular in Cajun cuisine. With their delicate flavor and tender flesh, they make a delicious addition to any meal. The most popular way to eat crawfish is to boil them with other types of seafood, sausage, and vegetables. Crawfish are also often used in soups, stews, and gumbos.
Mercury in Seafood
One of the main concerns people have about eating seafood while pregnant is the mercury content. Mercury is a naturally occurring element that can be found in small amounts in the environment. It is also released into the air through industrial pollution and can end up in waterways where it is absorbed by fish. When pregnant women eat fish that contain mercury, it can cross the placenta and accumulate in the fetus, which can lead to developmental delays and neurological problems.
The amount of mercury in fish varies depending on the type of fish and where it was caught. For example, swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel all contain high levels of mercury and should be avoided during pregnancy. On the other hand, shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish are all low in mercury and are considered safe to eat by people who are taking precautions.
Is it Safe to Eat Crawfish While Pregnant?
As compared to other types of seafood, crawfish are relatively low in mercury. With just an average of 0.033 parts per million, they are well below the 0.1 parts per million that are considered safe for pregnant women to consume. This means that as long as it’s properly cooked, it’s perfectly safe for you to enjoy crawfish while pregnant.
Benefits of Eating Crawfish While Pregnant
Aside from being low in mercury, crawfish are also a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Protein is important for the growth and development of the fetus, while omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain development. Both of these nutrients can help ensure a healthy pregnancy. In addition, crawfish are also a good source of iron, copper, selenium, niacin, and trace amounts of vitamins A and C, which are all important for a pregnant woman’s diet.
Tips to Keep in Mind When Eating Crawfish
A pregnant woman’s diet should be as healthy and balanced as possible. This means eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods, including crawfish. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind when eating crawfish while pregnant. Some of these things include:
One of the most important things to look for when purchasing crawfish is freshness. Make sure the shellfish you’re buying are alive and active. You can tell they’re fresh if their tails are curled and their bodies are firm. If the crawfish you’re looking at have straight tails or soft bodies, it’s best to avoid them.
The 12-ounce Rule
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that pregnant women limit their seafood intake to 12 ounces per week, which is about two to three average meals. This rule applies to all types of seafood, including fish, shellfish, and other seafood products like sushi and clam chowder. In addition, the FDA recommends that pregnant women avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish as they contain high levels of mercury.
It’s also important to make sure the crawfish you’re eating are properly cooked. This means cooking them until their tails are curled and their flesh is opaque. Accidentally eating undercooked seafood can increase your risk of contracting food poisoning which can be dangerous for both you and your baby. Boiling is the most popular way to cook crawfish, but you can also fry, bake, or grill them.
If you’re not planning on eating the crawfish right away, it’s important to store them properly. When handling raw crawfish, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly and avoid cross-contamination. Raw crawfish should be stored in the refrigerator and can be kept alive for up to two days. Be sure to keep them in a covered container with ice so they stay fresh. If you could avoid imported crawfish, that would be ideal as there’s no way to know how long they’ve been stored or if they’ve been properly refrigerated.
Before cooking or eating your crawfish, it’s important to give them a good cleaning. This means removing the “mud vein” which is a dark-colored intestine that runs along the length of the crawfish. To remove it, simply use a sharp knife to make a small cut along the back of the crawfish and pull it out.
If you have any leftover crawfish, make sure to refrigerate them within two hours of cooking. They will be good to eat for up to four days. When reheating, make sure they are cooked until hot all the way through. The FDA recommends throwing away any leftovers that have been stored at room temperature for more than two hours.
If you love seafood, there’s no need to worry about giving it up during pregnancy. While there are some types of seafood you should avoid, crawfish are perfectly safe to eat as long as they’re fresh, properly cooked, and stored correctly. So go ahead and enjoy a delicious plate of crawfish without any guilt! Just always remember to follow the 12-ounce rule and you’ll be fine.