Many of us find seafood delicious, especially when enjoyed in the summer months or when on vacation.
Given pregnancy comes with some dietary changes, a common question among pregnant women is can I eat octopus while pregnant?
Octopus is safe for pregnant women to eat provided it has been fully cooked, which usually means it has been grilled, baked or boiled.
Raw, undercooked or marinated octopus should not be eaten by pregnant women since it may contain harmful bacteria.
Is Octopus Safe To Eat During Pregnancy?
The key factor in assessing whether or not octopus is safe for a pregnant woman comes down to how the octopus has been prepared, cooked and served.
If we take a step back, before you became pregnant you were probably relaxed about food safety on the whole, preferring to use plain common sense in your bid to avoid catching food poisoning.
But during pregnancy it’s important to avoid an infection called listeriosis, which is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.
The good news however according to experts including the CDC is that Listeria is easily killed by heating food to a high enough temperature.
So in theory, provided you only eat octopus that has been fully cooked, you can safely tuck in to this delicious delicacy while pregnant.
In practice this means that if the octopus has been grilled, barbecued, boiled, baked or steamed, it should be safe to eat.
Incidentally, this is why pregnant women should avoid undercooked steak, unpasteurized dairy products and soft serve ice cream, because these can also contain harmful bacteria.
How To Eat Octopus While Pregnant
We’ve seen that octopus is safe to eat during pregnancy, as long as it is prepared a certain way.
Let’s take a look at the recommended ways to eat this seafood while expecting, as well as the dishes you should avoid.
Pregnancy-Safe Ways Of Eating Octopus
- Grilled & Barbecued: If you are eating octopus while on vacation in the Mediterranean or Caribbean, there’s a good chance it will be grilled. Just cut into the thickest part to ensure the meat is hot and cooked all the way through. If it is then you’re good to go, if not then it’s best to ask for the dish to be cooked a little longer.
- Boiled, Baked & Roasted: A chef may decide to boil octopus to help ensure it’s tender, especially if they are preparing a larger octopus. Whether boiled, baked or roasted, what you’re looking for here is for the meat to be soft and tender, which indicates it’s fully cooked.
Avoid These Ways of Eating Octopus While Pregnant
- Pre-Made Salads: An octopus salad is one of the most delicious ways to enjoy this beautiful seafood, but you may want to avoid bagged salads, because there’s a higher chance they contain harmful listeria bacteria. If you are planning on eating an octopus salad, make sure the octopus is fully cooked, has been stored correctly and is served cold.
- Sashimi & Sushi: Sashimi is thinly sliced raw meat, and as such it should not be eaten during pregnancy because raw fish, including sushi and sashimi, are more likely to contain parasites or bacteria than fully cooked fish.
- Ceviche: This South American dish involves marinating the fish in citrus juice (lemon or lime). Whether you consider marinated octopus to be raw or not doesn’t really matter, because ultimately it’s not fully cooked, so should be avoided while expecting.
- Carpaccio: Similar to sashimi, carpaccio is a dish that contains raw, thinly sliced meat, so again it’s not safe to eat during pregnancy.
Are Octopus Mercury Levels A Concern?
You may be aware that pregnant women are advised to limit the amount of foods they eat that are high in mercury, but what does this mean for octopus?
Octopus has low to medium mercury levels, and less than a lot of other popular seafood, so it is indeed safe to continue eating during pregnancy, but you should consume it in moderation, which means around two servings per week.
Octopus is also a good source of lean protein and is rich in nutrients including vitamin B12 and iron, which call all help promote the growth of new body tissue, produce antibodies that support your immune system, develop enzymes and hormones, and contribute to a healthy birth weight.