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Can Pregnant Women Eat Octopus?

There are lots of things you may be worried about eating during your pregnancy, from cold cuts to escargot and shellfish, and you may be wondering if pregnant women can eat octopus.

Octopus is a delicacy in many countries, and if you’re a keen traveler or a foodie, you may be wondering whether you can continue to incorporate octopus into your diet throughout your pregnancy. 

Here we’ve put together all the information about eating octopus in order for you to decide whether or not you should continue eating octopus while pregnant. 

Is Octopus Safe For Pregnant Women?

Octopus is generally considered safe for pregnant women to consume, as long as some precautions are adhered to. As octopus is considered shellfish, it must be cooked thoroughly before consuming, just like all other types of shellfish. 

Octopus has medium mercury levels, less than some seafood, and is, therefore, safe to be incorporated into your diet in moderation, however seafood consumption should be limited to two servings a week.

It is also a good source of protein and provides several nutrients such as iron and vitamin B12. These nutrients are great for promoting good health in your baby and help to prevent defects such as anencephaly and spina bifida. 

Is All Seafood Safe?

Not all seafood is safe for consumption during pregnancy, and you should be mindful of this as you go through your pregnancy.

You should avoid choosing dishes where the seafood is only lightly cooked, like salads, carpaccio, or sushi. These dishes are more likely to be contaminated by the bacteria listeria. 

Listeria is a bacteria that can be found in ready-to-eat foods, such as cold salads, unpasteurized dairy products, and seafood. This can cause sickness and can be harmful to your baby if ingested. 

Consider opting for dishes with seafood that is grilled, boiled, or oven-cooked. This will destroy any harmful bacteria and ensure that you and your baby are healthy. Good options are dishes such as clam chowder or calamari.

What Is The Best Octopus To Eat?

There are several types of octopus that are perfectly safe for you to consume while pregnant, but it is all dependent on the cooking method. Here we’ve broken down some of our favorite recipes containing octopus, with our top tips for how to ensure your safety. 

Grilled Octopus

Grilled octopus is one of the most popular ways to enjoy octopus, especially in European countries like Spain and Greece.

In order to ensure that grilled octopus is safe to eat, cut into the thickest bit and ensure that it is warm. If not, ask for it to be cooked for a little longer, or consider opting for a different dish. 

Boiled and Baked Octopus 

Octopus is sometimes boiled to try and overcome the chewy texture, before being cooked in a different way. Large octopuses can take a long time to cook, so bear this in mind when ordering or cooking for yourself. 

If you’re cooking the octopus, try inserting a skewer or knife into the thickest part of the octopus to check how tender it is. If it is tender the whole way through, then it is safe to eat. 

Whole Baby Octopus

This European delicacy is often described as being similar to squid, and just like squid, it can be cooked in a variety of ways, from grilling to boiling or frying.

If you’re concerned about whether or not this is safe, ask whether the insides of the head have been removed properly. If this is the case, then it is likely safe to eat. 


This popular Japanese food consists of fried octopus balls and is a popular sushi restaurant staple. The octopus in takoyaki is always cooked, and since the balls are deep-fried, they will be perfectly safe for you to eat. 

Despite the fact that the takoyaki is safe to eat, it is sometimes served with a sauce or dressing. These dressings are usually mayonnaise-based, so it is worth checking whether or not the mayonnaise has been made with pasteurized eggs. If you’re not sure, consider skipping the dressing. 

Recipes That Are Unsafe For Pregnant Women

While there are plenty of octopus dishes that are perfectly fine to eat during pregnancy, there are some you should probably avoid. 

Octopus Salad

While the octopus in a salad is perfectly safe if it has been cooked, it has to have been stored properly. If you’re at a supermarket, you should probably avoid pre-made salads, as they have a danger of carrying listeria. 

If you really can’t do without an octopus salad, consider preparing one at home. Ensure that your vegetables are thoroughly washed before eating, and your octopus is cooked through. 


Carpaccio is usually a raw dish eaten in Mediterranean countries. Octopus carpaccio involves slices of dressed octopus served cold. 

Sometimes the octopus used for carpaccio is boiled before serving, but sometimes it is served raw, so this should always be double-checked before eating. If the carpaccio contains boiled octopus then it is safe to eat. 

Marinated And Pickled Octopus

This is a popular antipasto in the Mediterranean and it is sometimes boiled before marinating, though this is not always the case. Sometimes the octopus is left raw, so it is worth checking if you are eating this at a restaurant. 

If the octopus has been cooked before marinating, then it is safe to eat, but if not you should really avoid it. 


Sashimi is popular in Japanese cuisine but the preparation can vary so it is always worth double-checking how it is prepared before ordering. If it has been boiled then it is safe for consumption, but if not it should be avoided. 

Substitutes For Octopus

If you’re not feeling happy about eating octopus during your pregnancy, there are some things that you can substitute into your recipes. It is always worth double-checking if these substitutes are safe for consumption in your pregnancy. 

  • Shrimp, squid, or other shellfish
  • Sausages or bacon
  • Canned tuna or cod roe
  • Fish cakes
  • Kimchi

The Final Thought 

There are plenty of recipes that you can eat during your pregnancy that contain octopus. But there are also some you should definitely be avoiding if you’re not sure how the octopus has been prepared.

And if you’re not feeling happy about eating octopus during your pregnancy, there are plenty of substitutes you can use that will mean you don’t even miss octopus. 

And if you’re worried about avoiding other foods, check out Can You Eat Chinese Food While Pregnant?