When I teach cooking classes I always try to cover a few grill techniques because I’m a huge grill fan. It’s such an easy, tasty, low-mess, healthy way to cook. What’s more, you can toss a few things on the grill at once and have dinner done in a flash.
Of all the food dilemmas you face when pregnant, seafood might be the most slippery. Fish contain nutrients essential to the developing fetal brain, but they can also be contaminated with brain-damaging mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The ecological questions are similarly confusing. Many wild fish are being fished to extinction, but fish farms can be a major source of environmental destruction as well.
Omega-3 fish oils, particularly DHA, are touted as an important nutrient for pregnant women because of their role in fetal brain and eye development and in helping to prevent postpartum depression (PPD) in new mothers. Yet a recent randomized controlled trial—considered the “gold standard” of medical research—found that the children of women who took fish oil supplements during pregnancy had no better cognitive or language skills at 18 months than the children of women who took a vegetable oil placebo.
now, more than ever, taking care of yourself is top priority. With your baby developing inside you, you know you should get the most out of what you’re eating. You also know that you need extra calories for your baby’s development. But there may be something you haven’t thought about: Avoiding foods that make you sick or that harm your growing baby is also an important part of the equation.
For years, doctors and nutritionists have touted the benefits of eating fish—it’s an excellent source of good-for-your-heart fats, lean protein and key nutrients. But recent reports of mercury contamination may leave you wondering if fish is still such a healthy catch for you and your developing baby.
It's a conundrum: You know seafood is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Rich in protein and other essential nutrients, swimming with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated fats, these watery wonders have likely been a part of your weekly—if not daily—diet for years. But now that you're pregnant, you're being pummeled with news that fish may not be so healthy after all. What gives?
For more information on fish and mercury, check out the following websites:
• National Geographic's TheGreenGuide offers a comprehensive list of the best seafood choices—those that are not only low in mercury but are also not over-fished or farmed destructively—as well as those to avoid. Visit thegreenguide.com/doc/115/nofish.
• To calculate your weekly intake of mercury, visit gotmercury.org.
Part of putting your Supermarket Smarts to work is to make informed choices when eating fish and seafood during pregnancy. Although you should limit or avoid eating certain types of fish during pregnancy, there are still plenty of healthful options in the seafood department. There you can find lean sources of protein and healthful omega-3 fatty acids.
YES, says obstetrician-gynecologist Karen Filkins, M.D., a fellow of the American College of Medical Geneticists and member of the Teratology Society.
Canned tuna is a higher-risk fish, but it's safe to eat as long as it is not your main source of food and is consumed in limited quantities. The risk of mercury is cumulative, so an occasional serving of tuna is not going to harm your baby.