Can Pregnant Women Eat Hake? Is It a Safe Fish?

Last Updated on May 25, 2020

Fish is a nutritious, lean protein and is a great choice during pregnancy. Besides being told not to eat ‘high mercury’ fish (which we’ll go into later), pregnant women often want to know about specific species.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Hake? Hake is safe in pregnancy if it’s fully cooked. Avoid raw or undercooked hake if you’re pregnant. As a versatile fish that is low in fat and high in protein, it can easily be added to your pregnancy diet.

In this article, I’m covering everything about hake – its mercury level, whether it’s safe, how you can eat it, and how healthy it is during your pregnancy.

When is Hake Safe For Pregnant Women?

Hake, like many other fish, is safe in pregnancy if it’s fully cooked.

That means that it should reach an internal temperature of 145F / 63c, according to the US Government (source: US Food Safety).

The easiest way to measure this is with a food thermometer (my recommended ones are here), though it’s also described as when the flesh is opaque – i.e. not jellyish or translucent, and that it flakes easily with a fork. This is a good test if you’re eating out and haven’t cooked the fish yourself, and can’t measure the temperature.

Probably the most common preparation of hake is a pan fried hake fillet.

Hake works out very well when it’s pan-fried. Deep fried is uncommon because it’s a delicate fish, but not unheard of. Both are safe if the fish is cooked through – cut into a thick part and check.

You can also oven bake hake, or poach it too. Again, these cooking methods are perfectly safe if the fish is done all the way through. Scroll down for a pregnancy-friendly recipe for hake at the end of this article.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Raw Hake?

Raw hake should be avoided in pregnancy due to the risk of bacterial contamination, and/or parasites (source: FDA).

Raw hake isn’t very common, unless you come across it in sushi, where it’s called “Heiku” on the menu. For more on sushi, you might be interested in my ultimate sushi guide for pregnant women. That article also details the risks of raw fish.

Because it’s often pan-fried as a whole fillet, you’re more likely to come across undercooked hake (by accident) than deliberately raw hake.

Whenever you haven’t cooked the fish, cut into the thickest part and avoid any fillets that are jellyish or translucent in the middle. The flesh should fkale easily with a fork. If it’s not, send it back.

pan fried hake fish

How Much Mercury is in Hake?

Hake often appears on ‘safe’ lists of fish to eat during pregnancy (source: NHS) but the mercury level isn’t given very often.

The Natural Resources Defense Council list hake as being a ‘low mercury’ fish (source: NRDC) whereas on most other lists it appears as ‘moderate’ (source: EDF).

Actual average mercury levels were tested over a number of years, and hake came out at a mean average of 0.079ppm (parts per million) in mercury (source: FDA).

This means that hake, on average, is a low to moderate mercury fish. In pregnancy, you can eat it a couple of times a week. It’s best mixed with other fish as part of a varied diet (source: Mayo Clinic).

Does The Type of Hake Matter in Pregnancy?

Very often, hake is just called exactly that – but there are different types of hake depending on where you live, and what the local catch is likely to be.

For the avoidance of doubt, all the types of hake below are safe in pregnancy if they’re fully cooked. They also all fall into the low to moderate mercury category as described above and by the Environmental Defense Fund (source: EDF):

  • Blue Hake (also called the Blue Grenadier or Hoki) – found in the Pacific, common in New Zealand and Australia
  • Chilean or Argentinean Hake
  • Cape Hake (also called Pacific Whiting)
  • White Hake (common in the USA and Canada)
  • Silver Hake (common in the USA)
  • Red Hake (common in the USA)

All these types of hake are OK during pregnancy when cooked all the way through.

Is Hake Healthy & Good For Pregnancy?

Hake is an excellent choice of fish during pregnancy as part of a healthy diet. This is because hake is:

  • Low in calories (with an average of about 70-80 calories per serving)
  • A source of lean, quality protein – about 18-20g per serving
  • Low in fat (around 1g per serving)
  • A good source of several important nutrients and minerals, including potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium.
  • Other fish are higher in omega-3 fatty acids, but hake is still a good choice as it’s also low in mercury (as described earlier in this article)

Source: Food Nutrition Table and Seafood Source

It’s worth mentioning that hake is much healthier when it’s oven-baked, broiled or pan-fried without flouring or breading.

Very often, hake is pan-fried – if you choose to eat pan-fried hake, try it without heavy coatings that add unnecessary calories and fat.

A Pregnancy-Friendly Hake Recipe

Hake can stand up to quite powerful flavors, so it can feature in many recipes, from Asian to Mediterranean combos.

If you’re wondering how to incorporate hake into your diet, then there’s a great, simple and tasty recipe on Youtube from Cooking Queen:

The recipe uses a basic, flavorful marinade that you can adapt with whatever herbs and spices you happen to have on hand, and only takes 15 minutes to cook:

Overall, hake is a fish you should consider adding to your pregnancy diet, as it’s nutritious, lean, and lower in mercury.


If you’re increasing your intake of fish during pregnancy, you may also like these articles:

This article has been reviewed and approved for publication in line with our editorial policy.

Gina Waggott, Medically Reviewed by Janet Gordon RD, MBDA

Gina is the owner and founder of Pregnancy Food Checker. She holds a Certification on Nutrition and Lifestyle during Pregnancy from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and a Diploma in Human Nutrition. Articles are medically reviewed by Janet Gordon RD, MBDA, a Registered Dietitian specializing in maternal health, including diabetes and obesity in pregnancy.

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