Eating sushi while pregnant: safe or not?

by | May 21, 2018 | Blog


Sushi is known as one of the healthiest take away foods available.  It’s quick, easy and nutritious.  So is it safe to eat during pregnancy? Take a read of today’s blog and find out!

Eating sushi while pregnant: safe or not?

It’s a question that I’m often asked by my pregnant clients. And in short, the answer is generally ‘no’, but before you click the close button – I want you to understand why, as there are some exceptions to the rule, and you need to hear these….

1. The seaweed of a nori roll is rich in iodine

Meaning it’s a very nutritious choice for most women during pregnancy.  Some women with thyroid issues may need to be careful of too much iodine.

2.  Rice and fish are very nutritious foods to eat during pregnancy

The problem with sushi rolls or California rolls as they are also known, is that a) they often use uncooked fish – which has a higher risk of listeria, and b) even if they are made from cooked chicken or cooked prawns, they are often cooked, then cooled – which also allows time for the listeria bacteria to grow.

So, “what about vegetarian sushi rolls?” I hear you thinking… Well, even with vegetarian sushi rolls, the rice is usually cooked and cooled, and they may have been stored for days and days… giving too much time for the listeria bacteria to grow.  You see, refrigeration doesn’t kill listeria, only heat – so that’s why sushi tend to be on the ‘higher risk’ list.

What’s the exceptions to the rule?

Well, if you were to make them yourself, and eat them immediately, there would be no chance for the listeria bacteria to grow.

Now, off the record….. personally, if I felt confident that a restaurant practiced safe hygiene standards, and I was absolutely sure that the sushi had been made fresh that day, I’d personally feel okay with eating vegetarian sushi rolls, or sushi rolls with cooked meats.  Because, at the end of the day, I think we need to be practical…..And we need to use some common sense!

If you’re overwhelmed with exhaustion, like many pregnant women I see, and haven’t had time to prepare some lunch, and your stuck with making a choice between – a) eating a bowl of chips for lunch, just because they’re cooked and therefore listeria free, or b) having nothing but a glass of water…I’d much rather you go for the sushi rolls. Yes, they have a listeria risk, but what’s the likelihood of you developing listeria versus gestational diabetes????

Seriously.  What is it?

Well, in Australia, there’s over 300,000 pregnancies per year, and there’s around seven cases of listeria during pregnancy.  That’s a 0.00002% chance of developing a listeria infection. Whereas, there’s around 50,000 women who develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancies! Furthermore, over 50% of women, that’s one in every two…. will gain too much weight during their pregnancy, which goes on to impact your baby’s epigenetics.

So, my point is, yes, I’d prefer you to have something other than sushi for dinner.  I’d prefer that you took the time to cook some fish and have it with cooked rice and steamed vegetables, but if it’s a choice between sushi or KFC….well, use your common sense!

Now, if you’re getting stuck in this situation more often than you’d like, or you’d just like to join my mailing list for more pregnancy tips, what I would like you to do, is download a copy of my free pregnancy meal plan from here.

As always, I’m here to answer any of your dietary questions, so please feel free to post below.


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