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Can Pregnant Women Eat Ceviche? Is It Safe?

Ceviche is the perfect dish for those of you that enjoy the taste of raw seafood. However, once you’re pregnant, the rules on what you can or cannot eat tend to change.

It’s highly recommended that you don’t eat ceviche, or any raw seafood while you are pregnant. 

What Is Ceviche?

Ceviche is a delicious dish cooked with raw fish. Raw fish of your favorite variety is cut into cubes. It’s then soaked in lemon or lime juice.

The lemon and lime juice helps the fish become white and harder, just like cooking it does. It can even taste just like cooked fish. 

Is Ceviche Safe To Eat When You’re Pregnant?

Because the fish is denatured, just like it is when it’s cooked, most people assume that it’s okay to eat when you’re pregnant. However, this is not the same thing.

Because heat is not used during this process, it does not kill the bacteria in the raw fish that pregnant women need to watch out for. This is why it’s not safe to eat ceviche while pregnant. 

Avoiding Raw Seafood While Pregnant

The primary reason that it’s recommended to not eat ceviche is that it is made out of raw seafood. Some doctors in other countries state that there is no evidence to back this up and that raw seafood is not going to harm you or the baby.

Granted, there is a chance that it won’t hurt you or your baby. However, there is also a chance that it will. It does not pose an immediate threat, but most expecting mothers don’t want to take the chance. 

pregnant woman

You’re More Susceptible To Illness When You’re Pregnant

When you are expecting a child, your immune system is lower than it normally is. This means that you’re more likely to get sick, whether it’s from being around someone else or from the food you eat. 

A common concern is that uncooked seafood can contain parasites. While this is not as common in developed countries, it’s important to note that developed countries do import at least some of their food.

If it is not cooked properly, it might still contain those parasites. 

Another concern is the bacteria that is present. This bacteria is usually killed off when the food is cooked. Ceviche is not cooked at all, and it is not denatured in a way that kills the bacteria. 

If you become ill, it can not only make you feel sick to your stomach, it can put you or your baby in danger.

When you become sick with a foodborne illness, your baby is more likely to have delays, underdeveloped organs, and you’re at an increased risk for pre-term labor. 

Watch Out For High Mercury Fish When You’re Pregnant

Another reason that you might want to avoid your favorite seafood dish until after the baby is born is if you prefer it with fish that have high mercury content.

Certain fish, like big-eyed tuna, have more mercury in them than other fish. This can be harmful to your baby if you eat too much, so it’s best to simply avoid these fish to make sure. Fish with high mercury levels include: 

  • Shark
  • Big-eyed tuna
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish
  • Marlin
  • Orange roughy
  • Bigeye tuna

Instead, if you are going to eat seafood, stick with other fish that have lower levels of mercury. Fish that have low levels of mercury include: 

  • Scallops
  • Shrimp
  • Oysters
  • Clams
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Flounder
  • Tilapia
  • Crab

These are all safe to eat as long as they are cooked properly. In fact, it’s recommended to enjoy a serving of seafood twice a week to make sure that you’re getting all of the benefits that go hand in hand with seafood!

There Is A Way That You Can Eat Ceviche Safely…

If you’re a die-hard fan of ceviche, and cannot imagine living your life without it for the next nine months, I’ve got good news for you!

With a few alterations, you can enjoy ceviche. However, you’ll need to make some adjustments to make sure that you and your baby are safe. 

Woman serving a Latin American Ceviche Dish in a bowl

Make Your Own

If you want to enjoy ceviche, make sure that you make your own. Don’t order it at a restaurant.

When you order ceviche at a restaurant, it’s easy for a person to mistakenly give you undercooked fish because that is how they are used to serving ceviche.

Some restaurants might do this instead of cooking the fish because it’s hard to tell the difference. Instead, find your favorite recipe and learn how to make your own ceviche. 

Select Appropriate Seafood To Use

Ceviche can be made with any seafood that you like. While some people like tuna, this isn’t necessarily safe while you’re pregnant. Instead, pick a fish from the list of low mercury fish. Shrimp is a popular choice, and it makes a delicious ceviche!

Marinade It In Lemon Or Lime Juice

Most ceviche recipes call for using lemon or lime juice to denature the fish instead of cooking it. This is not a good idea if you’re pregnant, but you still want the delicious taste of lemon or lime juice.

You won’t get the exact same taste by marinating it before cooking it, but the dish will still taste good. 

Cut fish into cubes as you normally would for ceviche. Then, put it in a large bowl of lemon or lime juice, whichever the recipe calls for. You can also include some of your favorite seasonings for additional flavor. 

Cook The Fish

After that, fry the fish in lemon or lime juice with a touch of butter. Use a meat thermometer. This will help you make sure that the fish is thoroughly cooked through so it won’t put you or your baby at risk. 

Follow The Rest Of The Recipe

After the fish is thoroughly cooked, you can usually just follow the rest of the recipe. This will give you a delicious ceviche dish, but one that has properly cooked fish. This makes it safe for you to enjoy while you’re pregnant!

In Conclusion

Typically, it is not safe or recommended for a pregnant woman to consume ceviche because it contains raw fish. However, with a few simple adjustments, you can eat ceviche while pregnant if you make your own!