This article is part of an ongoing series where individual fish species are examined to see how safe they are in pregnancy. One thing’s for certain, and that is the fact that fish is an excellent, lean protein to eat during pregnancy. Flounder is available in many countries and is a tasty choice. So is it safe when you’re pregnant?
Can Pregnant Women Eat Flounder? Flounder is safe to eat when pregnant if it’s fully cooked. Flounder is low in mercury and is an excellent lean source of protein. It contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals, but how you eat it during pregnancy can make it even healthier.
There’s more than one type of flounder, so these are also covered here, plus a look at mercury levels, portions sizes and ways to make it super healthy in pregnancy.
When Is Flounder Unsafe for Pregnant Women?
The only type of flounder that isn’t safe in pregnancy is if it’s undercooked or raw.
Pregnant women should avoid undercooked fish and seafood due to the risk of bacterial or parasitic contamination (source: AND).
Thankfully, flounder rarely appears on sushi menus and because it’s a flatfish, it’s very hard to undercook it as it doesn’t take much cooking time. If you’re cooking flounder yourself, make sure it reaches an internal temperature of 145F / 63C. This is easily checked with a food thermometer.
If eating out or if you haven’t prepared the fish yourself, just cut into the thickest part of the fish and check it’s cooked all the way through, with firm, easily flaked flesh.
What’s the Mercury Level of Flounder?
According to the Food & Drug Administration, flounder is a low mercury fish, averaging 0.056 PPM (parts per million) of mercury on average, over a testing period of samples between 1991-2009 (source: FDA).
The Environmental Defense Fund also breaks down the mercury content of different types of flounder, and they all have the “low mercury” rating (source: EDF). The types of flounder that are considered to be low in mercury are:
- Starry Flounder
- Windowpane Flounder
- Blackback Flounder
- Summer / Winter Flounder
- Yellowtail Flounder
- Arrowtooth Flounder
- Witch Flounder
Of course, when you’re buying it from a fishmonger or eating it in a restaurant it will probably just be called “flounder”, and since all species are considered to be low in mercury, it’s fine to go ahead and choose it!
How Much Flounder Can I Eat When Pregnant?
As a low mercury fish, flounder can safely be eaten several times a week during pregnancy. The FDA recommends that pregnant women eat between 8 – 12oz a week of low mercury fish, which includes flounder (source: FDA).
As a general guide, a portion of fish (depending on size) is about 3 to 4 oz, so you can eat flounder up to three times a week when you’re pregnant.
Of course, it’s better to vary your diet where possible, and also adjust it if you’re eating some fish options that are slightly higher in mercury, such as tuna (you can find tuna guidelines here).
Does it Matter if the Flounder is Wild-Caught or Farmed?
Almost all the flounder you’ll see in a fishmonger or on a restaurant menu will be wild-caught flounder, as it’s very rarely farmed.
Whether or not the flounder is wild makes no difference as to its pregnancy safety – the main thing to look out for is to check that the flounder has been fully cooked before you eat it during pregnancy.
Is Flounder Good for Pregnant Women?
Flounder is a good choice of fish in pregnancy due to its low mercury content, but also because it’s very low in fat and calories, yet is high in protein.
Flounder has small amounts of many vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B6, Vitamin D, Phosphorous, Potassium, and Niacin. It also contains approximately 70mg of omega 3 fatty acids per oz (source: NutritionData).
Overall, flounder is a pretty good option to increase your intake of fish during pregnancy, especially as it’s such a lean source of protein. Of course, you can make it healthier (or not!) depending on how you cook it.
Ways of Cooking Flounder Healthily
Although fried flounder is perfectly safe for pregnant women to eat, the coating or breading / batter also adds unnecessary calories and fat to a healthy fish.
Other ideas include:
- Pan-frying or sauteeing, with a light sauce
- Asian-style sauces tend to be far less calorific than cream-style ones, so opt for ginger, soy sauce, and herbs rather than cream and butter
- Broiling or roasting flounder with veggies can be very tasty, especially if you roast the veg too
- Baking flounder with aromatics like lemon or pepper (see below)
Here’s one of the lightest, tastiest recipes for baked flounder I’ve come across, from DinnerTonight. It’s so simple, but so good – with pepper, garlic, and lemon:
Overall, flounder is a definite ‘yes’ to add to a healthy pregnancy diet – and it’s even better if you can add extra veggies, salad or whole grains to make it a complete meal, too.
If you are interested in other fish articles for pregnancy, you might like:
- A guide to mahi-mahi, monkfish, and anchovies in pregnancy
- Whether or not shellfish like crab and shrimp are safe
- Everything you wanted to know about eating salmon when pregnant
- A complete guide to tuna during pregnancy, regularly updated
- Guides about calamari, scallops and other luxuries like lobster, too
This article has been reviewed and approved for publication in line with our editorial policy.