But if you're expecting a little one, you might wonder if crawfish (also known as crayfish or crawdad) is a no-go for pregnancy-safe foods. Besides, seafood can be tricky to navigate during pregnancy, and some fish contain higher levels of mercury that can pose risks to both mom and baby.
So, can crawfish and pregnancy co-exist? To answer this question, we consulted with dietitians to get the lowdown on everything from nutritional benefits to mercury levels to safe consumption levels.
If you're looking for a healthy source of protein beyond meat and poultry, crawfish is a great option. Houston Methodist Hospital reports that a serving of this fish has a whopping 14 grams of protein and is low in unhealthy fats.
"Crawfish also provides several key micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), like iron, B vitamins and calcium that help support a healthy pregnancy," says registered dietitian Caroline L. Young, MS, RD, LD, RYT.
While crawfish is a great seafood to add to your plate, you'll want to ensure it's fully cooked before eating. "Undercooked fish may harbor harmful bacteria and parasites," Young explains. "To ensure that your crawfish is safe to eat, check that it is cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit."
Pregnant women can safely consume crawfish, a seafood option with low mercury levels. However, according to Kelsey Costa, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian, limiting your total seafood intake to 12 ounces per week, equivalent to two to three servings, is recommended.
"Crawfish may be smaller than other crustaceans, but monitoring your crawfish and additional seafood intake is still essential to avoid overconsumption," Costa tells Today's Parent.
Pregnant women can safely enjoy crawfish, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration states. The FDA considers it one of the top fish choices to include in their diet two to three times per week.
Additionally, Houston Methodist Hospital reports that crawfish is an excellent source of B vitamins and minerals like selenium and iron, and it has only 70 calories per serving, making it a healthy option. Although crawfish contains cholesterol, it is still a low-fat, high-protein fish worth considering.
Heartburn and indigestion are common symptoms during pregnancy, so it's important to be careful about what (and how much) you eat. And crawfish are no exception. Therefore, it is vital that they are cooked thoroughly before consumption and that they are not prepared with spices that could cause reflux.
"Eating uncooked or raw crawfish carries a risk for anyone (including non-pregnant people) of developing stomach issues like diarrhea, and should be completely avoided by pregnant women because of the risk of catching food-borne illnesses," states Young. "I recommend avoiding preparing it with spicy seasonings (which can lead to reflux and heartburn)."
Good news for seafood lovers. According to Young, crawfish has a relatively low amount of mercury at 0.033 parts per million, making it a safer option than high-mercury fish like king mackerel or swordfish. However, no matter how you like your crawfish, it is still essential to ensure that it is cooked all the way through before eating.
Crawfish is a healthy choice for pregnant women as it is low in calories, high in protein, and contains essential macronutrients, says Young. "Crawfish is a good source of protein, a macronutrient that's essential for the healthy growth of a developing baby, along with other necessary functions like expanding blood volume in pregnancy," she explains.
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