Can Pregnant Women Eat Scallops?

by Nikolai Nikitenko October 20, 2017

Can Pregnant Women Eat Scallops?

Can Pregnant Women Eat Scallops?

Scallops are a delectable treat that are irresistible to any seafood lover. Not only do they contain plenty of healthy lean protein, but are favored by the millions, whether they are baked, stir-fried, or even grilled. However, if you are pregnant, you may be wondering, "can pregnant women eat seafood?" 

The American Pregnancy Association, or APA, suggests that pregnant and nursing mothers consume seafood, such as sardines, trout, mussels, and mackerels to get enough protein in their system, in addition to calcium, iron, omega 3s, and vitamins that help infant and fetal development. However, the APA also cautions against eating certain seafood, such as king mackerel, tuna, and swordfish, since they contain high levels of mercury, which can damage the nervous system. Fortunately, scallops have very low mercury content, which means they’re safe for consumption at your own discretion. 

How Nutritious are Scallops?

Scallops are packed with lean proteins that contain lots of nutrients and a low glycemic index. This makes them a healthy choice for even pregnant mothers. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, scallops are an ideal source of vitamins C and A, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. More so, your OB/GYN will inform you that these nutrients that you get from scallops will help your fetal development, as well as your own health as well. 
In addition, scallops contain proteins that help mothers and babies strengthen necessary muscles. Magnesium and calcium also help maintain and grow bones, vitamins help with the development of eyesight, skin, and hair, and zinc help reduces the risk of small birth weight and helps grow healthy cells. 

Preventing Health Concerns

We have already answered the question, can you eat scallops while pregnant. Even though scallops are healthy for you to consume, you still must follow the proper steps, such as prepping and cooking, to reduce any health concerns. To make scallops safe during pregnancy, consider these seven tips.

1. Buy Healthy Scallops

Scallops are sold either dry or wet-packed in the United States. However, dry-packed scallops are healthier to eat and are not as chemical filled as wet-packed scallops. When you’re in the store buying scallops, make sure they aren’t shredded or excessively dry looking. Ideally, the scallop flesh should look firm with a solid white color. 

2. Fully Clean And Prepare Beforehand

Scallops are among the easiest to clean and prepare. All you have to do is rinse them under cold water and dry them with paper towels. Just keep in mind that it’s best to consume scallops the day you buy them. 

3. Don’t Eat Raw Scallops

The National Health Service highly discourages individuals from consuming raw scallops to avoid the risk of food poisoning and consumption of harmful bacteria and other toxins. 

4. Cook Them Properly

When you are pregnant, it is especially important that you only eat scallops that are cooked properly. Consuming raw scallops can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women. For this reason, you should learn how to properly cook scallops before you eat them.
One of the most popular ways of cooking scallops is to pan sear them. However, this is typically not a safe method of cooking for pregnant women. When you cook pan seared scallops, they are only cooked at a high temperature for around 90 seconds. Though this does give them a nice brown on the outside, they are still creamy and essentially raw on the inside. In fact, most restaurants will leave the center of scallops totally raw to improve the flavor. While this is fine for most people, scallops like these are not safe for pregnant women to eat. 
Try to stay away from pan-seared scallops, unless they are cooked completely. If you are at a restaurant, request that your scallops be fully cooked. If you are pan searing your scallops at home, leave them in the frying pan for four minutes, two for each side. By doing so, you can ensure that the scallops are cooked all the way through. Beware, however, because scallops can quickly become overcooked. When scallops are overcooked, they become hard, rubbery, and fairly unappealing to eat. Scallops can also be grilled and baked. Try including scallops in your pasta, salad, or soup.

5. Avoid Eating More Than 3 Servings a Week

Just like anything else, you should only enjoy scallops in moderation. To maintain a healthy and balanced diet, refrain from eating more than two or three servings of scallops a week. One serving is about 3.5 to 4 ounces or 100 grams. Remember not to overdo it and savor your scallops when you have them.

6. Only Purchase Fresh or Frozen Scallops

Much like all other seafood, you will receive more nutrients if you purchase your scallops either fresh or frozen. Do not purchase scallops or any other seafood that are stored in and sold out of refrigerators. This way, you can avoid purchasing any seafood that is less than fresh. You should also ensure that you are buying your scallops from a trustworthy and cleanly seller.

7. Ensure You are Not Allergic

Obviously, if you are allergic to scallops, you should not eat them. However, you may not know whether or not you are allergic to scallops. If you have experienced an allergic reaction to oysters, shrimp, or mussels, it is likely that you are also allergic to scallops. To be totally certain, ask your doctor to administer an allergy test. This is the easiest and safest way to determine whether or not you are allergic to scallops.

Scallops can be an incredibly nutritious part of any pregnant woman's diet. This type of seafood is high in protein, minerals, and vitamins, all of which are vital for those who are pregnant. Additionally, scallops contain low levels of fat and mercury. This makes them one of the best seafood options for pregnant women. Just remember to only consume scallops that have been properly cleaned, prepared, and cooked beforehand.

Nikolai Nikitenko
Nikolai Nikitenko


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