Healthy Eating during Pregnancy
Healthy EATING DURING PREGNANCY 11
MERICAN ACADEMY OF PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS (AAPA)
MERCURY IN FISH
Pregnant women should eat up to 12 ounces a week of seafood that
is low in mercury for daily nutrient goals. Examples of fish low in
mercury include shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and
catfish as these do not pose an increased health risk. In fact, fish
contains high-quality protein and other essential nutrients, is low
in saturated fat, and some types contain healthful fats such as
omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to heart health, brain devel-
opment and children’s proper growth and development.
While fish provides important nutri-
ents, certain types of fish may contain
chemicals that can cause health risks
for pregnant women. Specifically, fish
that have high levels of mercury can
harm the developing nervous system
of an unborn child or young baby.
FDA, Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), and USDA recommend
that pregnant women avoid sword-
fish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish
during pregnancy because these
larger fish tend to have higher levels
of mercury than other fish. However,
these fish are very uncommon in
most women’s diets.
Pregnant women should eat up to
12 ounces a week of seafood that is
low in mercury for daily nutrient goals.
Food plays a significant role in maintaining
the health of pregnant women and their
babies. Good nutrition and food safety
habits adopted during pregnancy, when
continued after giving birth, can have
lifelong benefits for the mother and child.
Knowing that whole grains, fruits,
vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean meats, and
beans provide essential nutrients, as well
as knowing foods that may pose health
risks to the mother and unborn baby,
is critical for a healthy pregnancy.
Choosing foods based on the principles of
balance, variety and moderation is a good
approach to enjoying a healthful eating
plan during pregnancy and for a lifetime!
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