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Can I Eat Ceviche While Pregnant?

Pregnancy is a magical time in a woman’s life, characterized by many changes in the body including hormonal, metabolic, cardiovascular, respiratory, behavioral, and even psychological.

However, the most remarkable one for a woman’s body is the belly growing as the baby develops, which lasts for around 40 weeks. 

Besides body changes, pregnancy is also marked as a period with great uncertainty, especially for first-time moms.

It is normal to wonder about what to eat, what to avoid, and many other questions that are based on the premise of protecting the developing baby. 

If that was not enough, it is common for the pregnant woman to have special food cravings during this period.

For instance, have you asked yourself “Can I eat ceviche while pregnant?” Keep on reading to discover the answer to this intriguing question and to discover what is the safest way to consume ceviche while pregnant. 

Can I Eat Ceviche While Pregnant

What is Ceviche?

Ceviche is a traditional dish that originated in Peru, typically made from raw fish and seafood marinated in citrus juices, usually lime or lemon juice, and seasoned with onions, salt, and coriander.

The citrus juice plays an important role in the ceviche, as due to its low pH level the juice denatures the proteins present in the fish, thus it changes the structure of the protein, “cooking” the fish without the need to use heat.

Ceviche is a very versatile dish, meaning that it can be prepared using a variety of fish and seafood such as tilapia, sea bass, halibut, shrimp, and scallops.

So Can I Eat Ceviche While Pregnant

Now here comes the big question, is it safe to eat ceviche while pregnant? This is a tricky question, and the answer is if you want to play safe you should avoid eating ceviche while pregnant.

Here is the thing, ceviche is a common dish in many Latin American countries and some pregnant women residing in these countries might even consume ceviche on a regular basis, however, if you are pregnant, ceviche is not the safest dish for a simple reason, the fish in ceviche is not completely cooked.

What happens in ceviche is that the pieces of fish are soaked in lemon juice or any other citrus juice for a couple of hours along with other seasonings.

During this process, the protein present in the fish goes through a denaturation process, which basically modifies the molecular structure of the protein and so the protein loses its shape.

However, it is worth mentioning that this process does not kill all the bacteria that might be present in the fish, it kills only those located on the fish’s surface.

Any other pathogen bacteria present in the fish’s interior might be able to cause food poisoning. Not to mention that some bacteria, such as Salmonella are acid-resistant.

Moreover, according to an FDA report, some fishes (including some typically used to prepare ceviche) can carry some dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Vibrio vulnificus, Anisakis, and many more. 

Nevertheless, please note that this does not mean that you should avoid eating fish during pregnancy. On the contrary, fish is an excellent protein, loaded with vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.

The only thing is that, in order to be safe you should only consume well-cooked fish while avoiding high mercury content fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. 

 What Happens If You Eat Ceviche While Pregnant?

If you have eaten ceviche while pregnant without knowing about its risk, do not panic. The best thing to do in this scenario is to let your doctor know and monitor for any of the symptoms of foodborne illness, which might include fever (above 38°C or 100°F), nausea, vomit, diarrhea, and muscle ache. Also, do not hesitate to go to an emergency room if you feel any of these symptoms.

You might need to take a blood test to confirm the infection and antibiotic treatment. 

Pregnancy Safe Ceviche 

It is perfectly understandable if you still have a craving desire of eating ceviche and the good news is that there is a way to do that. Here are a few tips:

1- Make sure to prepare it at your home, this way you can verify all the steps and rest assured it was done properly. 

2- Freeze the fish for at least 7 days (more time will be needed if the piece of fish is large and thick) at a temperature between -20°C to -40°C or -4°F to -40°F. This option only applies if you would like to consume raw fish, however, the only issue is that most household freezers do not reach the necessary temperature. 

3- If you cannot follow the steps above, the best option would be to cook the fish, its interior temperature must reach 75°C or 165°F.

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

This is a really common question as it is known that pregnant women should avoid certain foods. That said, below you will find a list of foods you should avoid consuming if you are pregnant and want to be extra safe:

  • Any type of raw or uncooked meat
  • Any type of unpasteurized dairy product
  • Raw or undercooked eggs
  • High content mercury fish (shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish)
  • Liver and liver products
  • Caffeine (no more than 200mg a day)
  • Alcohol
  • High dose multivitamin supplement
  • Not washed fruits or vegetables 
  • All types of pâté

Can I Eat Ceviche While Pregnant Conclusion

Ceviche is a delicious and common dish in many Latin American countries, where many people consume it on a regular basis, however, have you wondered about “Can I eat ceviche while pregnant?” this question intrigues many pregnant women and the answer is no, you should avoid eating ceviche while pregnant.

The reason is due to the ceviche’s method of preparation, which consists of soaking the piece of fish for a couple of hours in a citrus juice.

While this process changes the fish’s color and texture, it does not cook the fish and thus many harmful bacteria that might be present in the fish’s interior remain active and can potentially produce food poisoning.

That said, if you are pregnant and want to play safe you should only consume thoroughly cooked fish.



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