Can I still go to the sushi restaurant when I am pregnant?

Posted on: 25 July 2016

Many pregnant women are warned against eating sushi due to high mercury contents and potential for listeria. However, as long as some precautions are taken, sushi can be a healthy and delicious meal for pregnant women as proven by many centuries of Japanese consumption. Here are some things to keep in mind. 


The best way to avoid listeria is to consume fresh food that hasn't been contaminated by handling. High volume sushi restaurants tend to turn over their fish very frequently which can help to keep the fish fresh. Some westernised sushi restaurants offer a cooked 'canned' tuna option for their sushi, but it's important to ensure that you are still getting super fresh fish when you eat at these places. Look to order a popular dish that regularly sells out and observe the staff to make sure that they use appropriate hygiene precautions when touching other items such as money between handling the food items. Sushi that is served at the cold end of the safe zone (under 4 degrees C) will be less likely to have bacteria multiply and cause illness, so also check for audits by health departments or visible thermometers in the food cabinets for any sushi restaurants. 


When considering mercury concentrations, it's important to factor in how often you are eating sushi and whether the fish is one that tends to accumulate mercury. Mercury is less common in salmon, which is generally a safe and healthy food for pregnant women provided the salmon in the meal has come from a good source. Guidelines suggest that eating fish 2-3 times a week is safe.

The omega-3 oils in fish can be beneficial to pregnant women, as well as being high in protein and unsaturated fats which can help the baby to develop healthier. 

Other menu options

If you are nervous about raw fish, there are many other options available in a sushi restaurant so there is no need to call off your regular Japanese meal. You can branch out and try the teriyaki or curries, as well as try the vegetarian sushi options such as tofu or mixed vegetables. 

If you are curious about which Japanese food options are safe during pregnancy, it can be worth discussing your options with your health care professionals. Sushi and other Japanese foods can be a tasty option for pregnant women under the right conditions and can give you more variety in your diet.