Can You Eat Red Snapper When Pregnant? [6 Alternatives]

Being pregnant comes with a lot of additional responsibility.  You are no longer eating just for yourself, but now have to make healthier food choices because the nutrition you eat is the nutrition your baby will receive.

Therefore, it is imperative that you make healthy choices so that your baby will receive the appropriate nutrients required to promote growth and wellness.

If this is your first pregnancy then finding out that you are pregnant can be quite overwhelming. 

There is an abundance of information that can be beneficial or misleading depending on where you are retrieving that information. 

With the tremendous amount of platforms at our fingertips, gaining access to information is easier than it ever has been before. 

Having access to all this information can be quite overwhelming and can cause panic.  Don’t worry. 

Red Snapper is a type of fish that is commonly found in the Gulf of Mexico.  Red Snapper is also known as Lutjanus campechanus. 

It is a very tasty and well desired type of fish.  There are over one million recipes online alone that focus on creating a delicious meal involving Red Snapper.

Here we debunk the rumors of what women can eat during pregnancy.  One of the major questions that is asked is, “Can you eat red snapper when pregnant?”

Generally, it is acceptable for pregnant women to eat Red Snapper.  However, there are some caveats.  One of those caveats is that it has to be consumed in moderation and is considered a Good Choice by the FDA for pregnant women as long as it is consumed one serving per week.  

DISCLAIMER: While this information was prepared by a certified dietitian, it is NOT a medical advice. Please consult your own medical professional before altering your diet. The information is strictly for educational purposes.

The FDA and EPA have developed a list of different types of fish that are best choices, good choices and choices to avoid. Red Snapper is located within the good choices category as defined by the EPA and FDA.

Red Snapper

The good choice category recommends that you eat only one serving per week of Red Snapper. 

There are other fish choices that are considered the best choices; and the fish within that category can be consumed at a frequency of 2-3 servings per week.

While red snapper is not in the best choice fish category for consumption while pregnant, it is still a good choice and safe to eat in moderation while pregnant. 

According to the FDA and EPA, red snapper can be consumed by women who are pregnant at a frequency of one serving per week.

Importance Of Eating Fish During Pregnancy

Fish contain omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) and those are very important during pregnancy. 

Also, Fish is an important source of protein, vitamin B12 and vitamin D when compared to other foods. 

Fish also contain many other important minerals including:  selenium, zinc, and iodine.  Iron is very important for baby and mother. 

Fish are a great source of iron for the pregnant mother and the growing baby.    

However, it is very important during pregnancy to make sure that you are eating the right types of fish. 

There are some types of fish that can cause harm during pregnancy.  These types of fish must be avoided so that you do not cause harm to your baby.  

As women who are preparing to become pregnant or are already pregnant, it is recommended that you eat at least two 8-12 ounce servings of fish per week. 

There are certain fish that should be completely avoided during pregnancy. 

The reason that fish such as:  bigeye tuna, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish and tilefish should be avoided is because they contain high levels of mercury. 

Mercury is a metal that has been shown to cause birth defects in the growing fetus.

Fish Mercury Guidelines While Pregnant

The EPA has designated a list that identifies the levels of mercury within the different types of fish. 

Fish choices deemed to have high levels of mercury otherwise categorized as choices to avoid are those fish that have levels of mercury greater than 0.46 micrograms/g. 

Finally, those fish that are considered the best choices have mercury levels that are less than 0.15 micrograms/g and can be consumed safely by those who are pregnant at a rate of 3 servings per week.

King Mackerel has a mercury level of 0.73 micrograms/g which is considered very high. 

This fish should be completely avoided during pregnancy because of the high mercury level. 

Red Snapper has a mercury level of 0.17 micrograms/g which falls into the category of the good choices which can be consumed at a rate of 1-2 servings per week. 

Finally, catfish has a mercury level of 0.02 micrograms/g which is considered to be very low and is considered a best choice. 

Catfish can be consumed at a rate of 3 servings per week.  For a full list of the different types of fish and their corresponding mercury levels please review the EPA website. 

The EPA website lists all the fish, their mercury levels and the servings for consumption that are safe during pregnancy.

Top 6 Safe Alternatives To Red Snapper

While consuming red snapper during pregnancy is considered a good choice by the FDA and EPA, it is recommended to eat it only in moderation.  Moderation in this case is defined as one serving per week. 

Other fish that are considered the best choices to eat during pregnancy include:  anchovy, Atlantic croaker, Atlantic mackerel, Black Sea bass, Butterfish, Catfish, Clam, Cod, Crab, Crawfish, Flounder, Haddock, Hake, Herring, Lobster, American and spiny, Mullet, Oyster, Pacific chub mackerel, ocean and freshwater Perch, Pickerel, Plaice, Pollock, Salmon, Sardine, Scallop, Shad, Shrimp, Skate, Smelt, Sole, Squid, Tilapia, freshwater Trout, canned light Tuna, Whitefish and Whiting. 

These fish are considered best choices and can be consumed up to 2-3 servings per week.  

Alternatives To Red Snapper

Alternatives To Red Snapper – Safe During Pregnancy

BEST Choices (2-3 Servings Per Week)GOOD Choices (Eat 1 Serving Per Week)Choices To AVOIDHighest Mercury Levels
CatfishSnapperKing Mackerel
CrabHalibutOrange Roughy
TilapiaMahi MahiShark
Black Sea BassCarpTilefish (Gulf Of Mexico)

Fish Choices To Avoid

During pregnancy, there are certain fish that must be avoided because of their high level of mercury. 

During pregnancy do not consume the following fish:  King mackerel, Marlin, Orange roughy, Shark, Swordfish, Tilefish (Gulf of Mexico) and bigeye Tuna. 

The level of mercury within these fish can accumulate within your bloodstream and result in kidney failure in adults.  

Mercury is able to pass from the mother’s bloodstream, across the placenta and into the babies bloodstream. 

The result can be devastating.  High levels of mercury can also cause damage to the babies brain and nervous system. 

These predatory fish eat other fish which results in accumulation of additional mercury.  If you are unsure of what type of fish is safe to eat please consult your physician.

Vitamins To Consume Instead Of Eating Snapper

Whether you are making the conscious choice to avoid consuming fish during pregnancy, or you are are continuing your vegan or vegetarian lifestyle make sure that you consult your physician so that the appropriate recommendations to what vitamin and mineral supplements are appropriate for your individual case.  

In general, fish is a great source of protein and is necessary for the development of the babies cells and blood. 

If you are not going to consume fish, make sure that you are consuming some type of protein. 

Fish are a great source of Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Calcium and Omega-3 Fatty Acids (DHA). 

Making sure that you are consuming these additional supplements will help to promote appropriate development of the baby.  

Final Verdict

Health and wellness are very important during pregnancy.  A healthy mother correlates to a healthy baby. 

Choosing the right foods are important in making sure that the baby receives all the nutrition that is necessary for appropriate growth and development of the baby. 

If you are a first time mother, it can be quite overwhelming to determine what types of foods are safe for the baby.  We take away all the guess work when it comes to food choices.

We provide you with evidence based recommendations from the FDA, EPA and American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 

Pregnancy is an exciting time in your life, so take charge and don’t be afraid to eat that Red Snapper, as long as it is only one serving per week.

Leave a Comment