WHY FISH SHOULD BE EATEN DURING PREGNANCY AND WHEN BREASTFEEDING

WHY FISH SHOULD BE EATEN DURING PREGNANCY AND WHEN BREASTFEEDING

Watching what you eat during pregnancy and breastfeeding is important especially when it impacts the nutritional needs of both mother and baby. Here are some key reasons: 

  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fish, especially fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). DHA is crucial for the development of the baby's brain and eyes. It also supports the mother's brain health and can help reduce the risk of postpartum depression. DHA is so important that infant formula companies now add DHA to their products. However, it is not known if the DHA added to formula is as beneficial to babies as the DHA that occurs naturally in breast milk.
  2. Protein: Fish is an excellent source of high-quality protein, which is essential for the growth and repair of tissues in both the mother and the baby.
  3. Vitamins and Minerals: Fish provides important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, iodine, and selenium. Vitamin D is essential for bone health, while iodine is critical for thyroid function and brain development. Selenium is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage.
  4. Low in Saturated Fats: Compared to other animal proteins, fish generally has lower levels of saturated fats, which is beneficial for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system.

If the above information is not new to you, let's add our value into this topic as fish specialists with our selected mix of fish from different parts of the world. Eating a variety of fish from different waters is important as each fish provides different nutritional benefits and hedges any concerns about potential toxicity from mercury.

Selected fish that we love (in moderation and coupled with a healthy diet):

1. Wild Threadfin: This is a treasured fish in many parts of Asia and well-known among the Cantonese and Teochew communities. It is well-liked for its fatty nature (hence high Omega-3), high nutritional value, mildly sweet taste and buttery texture when steamed. In fact, it is also often selected as one of the first fishes a child eats when weaning due to the above-stated characteristics.

2. Salmon: Salmon needs no introduction. Besides being high in Omega-3, it is also low in mercury. Additional nutrients that are important for infant development are selenium and iodine, both nutrients that play a role in thyroid hormone metabolism that regulate the development of the fetal brain and nervous system.

3. Chilean Seabass (Snow Cod): Just because you are eating for nutrition doesn't mean that you shouldn't be enjoying it too. This fish is one fish that is widely enjoyed globally for its melt-in-your-mouth texture and extremely high Omega-3 levels. In fact, its fat content is about 20% It is also a fish that tastes good in most cooking styles. However, this fish should be eaten in moderation due to its role as a top predator in its ecosystem which typically means a moderate amount of mercury accumulation. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Chilean Seabass has a mean mercury concentration of 0.354 ppm, which is not extremely high considering that swordfish contains 0.995ppm of mercury. 

4. Snapper: In countries where internationally imported fish is not so common, snapper is a preferred fish eaten during confinement. While not the oiliest fish around, it provides an ideal mix of protein, Omega-3 fats and low mercury content. Taste-wise, it lends itself well to most cooking styles, especially Asian confinement-style and home cooked comfort recipes. 

5. Chinese Pomfret: A fatty fish that we are lucky to have access to here in Singapore. We've written extensively about this fish on our blog here

6. Black Cod: This is among our chosen fishes for pregnancy and breastfeeding due to its high Omega-3 benefits and taste. Note that we mentioned eating fishes from different waters and parts of the world is best for you to reap the maximum benefits while hedging any risks of mercury accumulation. 

 

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