Sablefish is a flaky white fish that lives in deep, cold ocean waters primarily off the coasts of Alaska and Canada. Commonly called black cod (despite not actually being a cod!), sablefish gets its name from its dark grey to black skin.
With a rich, buttery flavor and velvety texture, many seafood connoisseurs consider sablefish a delicacy and one of the finest fish you can eat!
Table of Contents
- Sablefish in Pregnancy
- Risks of Mercury Exposure During Pregnancy
- How Much Sablefish Can I Eat During Pregnancy?
- Tips for Buying and Preparing Sablefish
- Sablefish Recipes Perfect for Pregnancy
- Questions and Answers ❓
- The Takeaway on Eating Sablefish During Pregnancy 🐟
Sablefish packs an impressive nutritional profile. A 3 ounce serving contains:
- High-quality protein – 19g
- Vitamin B12 – over 300% DV
- Selenium – over 50% DV
- Niacin – over 30% DV
- Vitamin B6, phosphorus, and potassium – over 10% DV
It’s also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA, with a higher concentration than salmon! Omega-3s are integral for fetal brain and eye development.
The main concern with sablefish revolves around its mercury content. As a large, long-lived fish that eats other fish, sablefish contains more mercury than smaller species like sardines and anchovies.
We’ll cover more details about mercury levels and pregnancy guidelines coming up. Outside of mercury exposure, there are no known risks associated with eating sablefish.
Now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s focus on the unique considerations for eating sablefish during pregnancy!
Sablefish in Pregnancy
When you’re eating for two, knowing what foods are safe and beneficial is so important. Here’s a look at the key factors expectant moms need to know about eating sablefish.
Is Sablefish Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?
The short answer is yes, sablefish is safe to eat while pregnant as part of a balanced diet. Both the FDA and EPA approve of pregnant women eating 8-12 ounces (two average meals) of low mercury fish per week.
Potential Benefits of Eating Sablefish
Beyond its stellar nutritional profile, here are some of the top benefits you and baby can gain from eating sablefish while pregnant:
- Omega-3s for baby’s brain – The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA found abundantly in sablefish are so important for your growing baby’s brain, eye, and nervous system development.
- Protein for muscle growth – Sablefish provides high-quality, easy to digest protein needed for building all of baby’s muscles and tissues.
- Nutrient absorption – The healthy fats in sablefish help you properly absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K that contribute to a healthy pregnancy.
- Heart health – The omega-3s in sablefish support cardiovascular health for you by reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure.
- Postpartum depression relief – Some studies link omega-3 intake with lower rates of postpartum depression. Sablefish’s omega-3 content may help regulate mood.
- Cognitive support – DHA from sablefish helps support baby’s cognitive development and your mental health during a challenging time.
- Glowing skin – Hydrating protein and omega-3s can boost a pregnancy glow!
So eating sablefish while pregnant offers some excellent health perks for you and baby. But what about concerns over its mercury content?
Mercury Levels in Sablefish
Much of the debate over eating sablefish in pregnancy stems from its mercury content. Here’s what you need to know:
- As a large, long-lived predatory fish, sablefish contains more mercury than small fish like sardines.
- But at around 0.06 ppm, sablefish has far less mercury than high mercury fish like swordfish (0.995 ppm) and tilefish (0.689 ppm).
- The EPA and FDA designate sablefish as a low mercury fish, considering it safe to eat during pregnancy.
- Avoiding mercury exposure is still recommended, so intake limits apply.
To balance getting omega-3 benefits while limiting mercury, both the FDA and EPA provide guidelines on how much sablefish pregnant women can safely eat.
Risks of Mercury Exposure During Pregnancy
Now that we’ve covered the benefits, let’s discuss why mercury in seafood matters during pregnancy. Here are some of the potential risks:
- Brain and nerve development – The developing brain and nervous system are most vulnerable to mercury toxicity. High exposure can impair cognitive, motor, and behavioral functions.
- Lower IQ – Studies show higher mercury levels during pregnancy are associated with decreased IQ scores and performance on cognitive tests in children.
- Coordination and memory – Mercury exposure in the womb may impact coordination skills like sitting and walking as well as memory function.
- Hearing and vision – Elevated prenatal mercury levels can negatively affect hearing, peripheral vision, and other sensory functions.
- Immune function – Mercury builds up in immune system tissues and may impact the developing immune function of the fetus.
The good news is following the recommended guidelines for low mercury fish will help limit your exposure and promote a healthy pregnancy!
FDA & EPA Guidance on Eating Sablefish
The FDA and EPA both advise:
- Pregnant women can safely eat 8-12 ounces (two average meals) per week of fish low in mercury like sablefish.
- Higher mercury fish should be avoided or limited to no more than 6 ounces monthly.
This rule of thumb allows you to gain the advantages of sablefish’s nutrients for you and baby while minimizing potential mercury exposure.
Now that you understand the main considerations around sablefish for expecting moms, let’s look at how much you can eat based on serving sizes and frequency.
How Much Sablefish Can I Eat During Pregnancy?
When it comes to seafood consumption in pregnancy, experts agree moderation and variety are key. Follow these recommended guidelines for how much sablefish to eat while pregnant.
Sablefish Serving Size
The standard serving size for fish like sablefish is around 3-4 ounces. That’s about the size of a deck of cards.
A serving this size provides about:
- 19g high-quality protein
- 500-600mg omega-3 fatty acids
- 20-25% Daily Value for vitamin B12, selenium
Stick with a 3-4 ounce portion to get the most nutrients from sablefish without overdoing it.
Frequency of Eating Sablefish
Along with watching portions, pay attention to how often you eat sablefish:
- The FDA & EPA recommend eating 8-12 ounces of low mercury fish weekly.
- For an average 4oz serving of sablefish, that means eating it about 2-3 times per week.
- Spread out your servings over the week for the best benefits. Consuming multiple servings in one day is not advised.
Mixing up your seafood choices is recommended, rather than eating sablefish at every meal! Which brings us to the next tip…
Prioritize Fish Low in Mercury
To limit mercury exposure, the FDA & EPA recommend prioritizing fish that are lowest in mercury while pregnant. These include:
Eat these more often, and add in sablefish moderately. Avoid high mercury fish like swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and shark.
Varying your seafood picks while limiting total intake to 2-3 servings a week is the way to go. This gives you and baby the upside of seafood with less downside!
Tips for Buying and Preparing Sablefish
Taking some care when selecting and cooking sablefish helps ensure safety:
- Buy sablefish from reputable sellers like Whole Foods rather than fish markets. It should appear moist and shiny, not dry.
- Opt for wild sablefish over farmed when possible for less contaminants and pesticides.
- Cook sablefish to an internal temperature of at least 145°F to kill any bacteria present.
- Grill, bake, or poach sablefish rather than frying to avoid adding unhealthy oils.
- When eating out, ask how the sablefish is prepared and cooked. Steer clear of high mercury fish also on the menu.
Following basic food safety tips gives you peace of mind when eating sablefish during pregnancy. Now, let’s get to the fun part – yummy sablefish recipes you’ll love!
Sablefish Recipes Perfect for Pregnancy
From easy weeknight dinners to fancy date-night dishes, sablefish works great in all kinds of delicious recipes:
1. Lemon Herb Baked Sablefish
- Ingredients: Sablefish, lemon slices, parsley, thyme, olive oil, salt, pepper
- Directions: Arrange fillets in a baking dish. Top with lemon slices, herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake 15-20 minutes until flaky.
2. Cajun Blackened Sablefish
- Ingredients: Sablefish, cajun seasoning, butter, lemon wedges
- Directions: Coat fillets with cajun spice and melted butter. Cook in a hot skillet 2-4 minutes per side. Serve with lemon wedges.
3. Miso Glazed Sablefish
- Ingredients: Sablefish, white miso paste, maple syrup, rice vinegar, vegetable oil
- Directions: Whisk together the miso glaze ingredients. Pan sear fillets then brush with glaze. Bake 10 minutes.
4. Garlic Sablefish with Veggies
- Ingredients: Sablefish, veggies like zucchini and tomato, olive oil, garlic, basil.
- Directions: Roast veggies in olive oil and garlic. Add sablefish and bake until flaky. Finish with basil.
5. Sablefish Tacos
- Ingredients: Sablefish, corn tortillas, cabbage, pico de gallo, avocado
- Directions: Bake sablefish in spices. Assemble tacos with desired toppings.
These recipes make it easy to fit healthy, delicious sablefish into your pregnancy diet. Remember to limit your portions to 3-4 ounces and eat it just 2-3 times per week along with other low mercury seafood.
Eating a variety of nutritious foods keeps your diet exciting! Let’s wrap up with some frequently asked questions about sablefish in pregnancy.
Questions and Answers ❓
Here are answers to some common questions about eating sablefish and other fish during pregnancy:
A: Yes, sablefish is considered a low mercury fish that is safe to eat during pregnancy. The recommendations allow 1-2 servings per week as part of a healthy diet.
A: Fish highest in mercury that should be avoided are shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, orange roughy, bigeye tuna, and marlin. Limit white albacore tuna.
A: Yes, commercially canned sablefish is safe during pregnancy since the cans are smaller younger fish that tend to be low in mercury. Follow the recommended portions.
A: Wild caught sablefish tends to have less contaminants. But both wild and responsibly farmed sablefish are considered safe in pregnancy.
A: Good resources are the FDA/EPA guidelines and seafood watch lists that categorize fish as low, medium or high mercury. Bigger predator fish typically have higher levels.
The Takeaway on Eating Sablefish During Pregnancy 🐟
Eating low mercury fish like sablefish during pregnancy provides important nutrients for you and your baby’s health and development. It is considered safe in the recommended portions of 8-12 oz per week.
Aim for variety and follow the guidelines from health authorities. Avoid high mercury fish and limit albacore tuna. And speak with your doctor about any concerns over your pregnancy diet.
With an informed approach, you can feel good about including nutritious fish like sablefish as part of a healthy pregnancy diet!