Eating Fish During Pregnancy - Which One To Eat And Which One To Avoid?

Huda Shaikh

Created by Huda Shaikh
Updated on Feb 07, 2020

Eating Fish During Pregnancy Which One To Eat And Which One To Avoid
Reviewed by Expert panel

Fish during pregnancy? This is one question most of the "to be mommies" struggle with. While a major population would say no since certain fishes absorb mercury and mercury can harm a baby's developing brain and nervous system but we would say yes because not all fishes contain high levels of mercury and we would guide you through the same. If you go by what the studies say, I am sure you would never give fish a miss. Studies have shown that fish can provide an array of nutrients which are required for the development of your little one. Even if you normally do not eat fish, it is great to include it in your pregnancy diet for the benefits it offers.

Health Benefits Of Eating Fish During Pregnancy

Fish are rich in two omega-3 fatty acids – DHA and EPA that are essential for the healthy growth and development of the fetus. Further, these two nutrients are not easily available in other foods. To be precise fish is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, Protein and is low in saturated fatty acids making it one of the best foods for a pregnant woman. However, the catch is to eat fish that is low in mercury and provided maximum nourishment for the developing fetus. So fish definitely needs to be a part of your diet if you are expecting, and we are here to guide through it

Is Eating Fish Safe in Pregnancy?

The answer is largely 'yes', you can consume certain fishes which do not absorb excess mercury and are free from a man-made toxicant polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's), but only in moderation. Since pregnancy is one of the most delicate times in the life of a woman, exercising caution is highly advised. Pregnant women can consume 2-3 servings of healthy, cooked fish a week.

Fish Considered Safe While Pregnant

  1. Butterfish (Pomfret)
  2. Catfish (Singhada)
  3. Herring (Hilsa)
  4. Mackerel (Bangada)
  5. Salmon (Indian salmon is known as Rawas)
  6. Sardine
  7. Tilapia
  8. Whitefish
  9. Clam
  10. Anchovies (Nethili in Malayalam)

Which Fish Should Be Avoided When Pregnant?

While we have already discussed the types of fish which are safe to consume during pregnancy here is a list of fishes which need to be completely avoided when expecting.

  • Bass
  • Carp (Rohu)
  • Cod(Gobru)
  • Lobster
  • Snapper
  • Tuna(Canned chunk light)
  • Bluefish
  • Grouper
  • Sea bass (Asian version is bhekti)
  • Tuna (Yellowfin)
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tuna (Ahi)

Why Are Some Fish Best Avoided When Pregnant?

The reason why the above fishes are not allowed is that they contain large amounts of mercury. Now the metal mercury once consumed by the fishes due to water pollution is later converted to methyl mercury which is capable of passing through the placenta to the fetus and can adversely affect the nervous system and brain development of the same. Not only that there is another contaminant known as PCB Or polychlorinated biphenyls which is a byproduct of industrial waste and is known to get accumulated in the body of these fishes, which can, in turn, make the fish harmful for consumption.

Best Way To Consume Fish When Pregnant

Here are a few ways in which you can cook fish well.

  1. Grilled fish:

    Grilling fish not only helps in keeping the nutrients intact but at the same time does not overcook the fish. You can use a grill plate or the same. Simply brush the plate with little oil and place the marinated fish over it. Once the colour turns brown on side then flip it over to the other side and repeat the process. You can consume this with sautéed veggies
  2. Poached fish:

    This method helps in keeping the fish moist. Simply pour water/Chicken stock/vegetable stock in a pan or vessel and place the fish pieces. Simmer it for some time and once you see bubbles, then it's time to remove the fish from the pan
  3. Steamed fish:

    Steaming is the best way to preserve the nutrients of the fish. You can rub the fish which garlic/ginger and mild spices before placing it in the steamer basket. This way the fish would not only be cooked well but gives an amazing taste

Healthy Fish Recipes For Pregnant Women

1. Healthy Steamed Pomfret Fish

Ingredients for cooking steamed fish

  • 500 gms pomfret
  • ½ tbsp garlic
  • 1 Tbsp chopped lemongrass
  • Few chopped mint leaves
  • 1-2 Whole red chillies
  • Sesame oil
  • 1 Tsp honey
  • Coriander (chopped)
  • ¼ tsp black pepper powder
  • Spring onion
  • Olive oil


  • In a steamer or pressure cooker add all the ingredients except honey
  • Now add the fish and steam till the fish is done
  • Once done drizzle some honey, black pepper, Sautéed spring onions and chopped coriander leaves on it

2. Grilled Fish Steaks

Ingredients for grilling fish steaks

  • 1 Clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp rock salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley/coriander
  • 1 Fillet white fish/pomfret


  • In a glass bowl add garlic, olive oil, basil, rock salt, pepper, lemon juice and parsley/coriander
  • Place the fillet in a glass dish and pour the marinade over it. Let it remain for an hour
  • Once marinated place the fillet on the grill tray and grill for 5 minutes on each side, flip over slowly and once the side is brown
  • Make sure you grill it well and then sprinkle some chopped coriander over it

3. The Evergreen Fish Soup

Ingredients for making fish soup

  • 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 Small onion chopped
  • 500 gms Pomfret fish heads, skin and bones
  • 1 Tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1 Small carrot, hopped
  • 3 cups of water
  • ½ tsp white vinegar
  • Rock salt
  • Black pepper to taste


  • In a pan add olive oil and sauté chopped garlic and onion
  • Now add water and bring it to a boil
  • Add in all the ingredients and cook for some time
  • Place it on low flame and keep simmering by skimming out the foam on top
  • Once done strain the soup well and consume
  • Remember that as with anything, moderation is the key. Have a healthy and happy pregnancy!

Did you find this blog on eating fish during pregnancy, useful? Please share your feedback with us in the comments section!

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Oct 07, 2017

fish is a powerhouse of nutrients. many thanks for sharing the benefits of having a fish especially during pregnancy. I am sure its a very useful advise for pregnant women. thanks again

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| Oct 07, 2017

Hi Shikha, Most welcome,I am glad you liked it :)

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| Apr 06, 2019

Nice dinner

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| Jun 11, 2020

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| May 01, 2021

Is Red bellied fish can be eat when trying to conceive?

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