Can You Eat Escargot (Snails) During Pregnancy? Safety and Benefits

Last Updated on September 24, 2022

Escargot is a type of snail served as a delicacy in many parts of the world. While some consider escargot safe to eat during pregnancy, others caution against it, but why?

Aside from a lack of research on the safety of eating escargot during pregnancy, snails are considered seafood. Seafood allergies are more common in pregnant women than in the general population. If you have a seafood allergy, you should avoid escargot.

Aside from the potential for an allergic reaction, is there any other reason to avoid escargot during pregnancy? On the flip side, what are the health benefits of eating escargot while pregnant? Let’s take a closer look at the safety of eating escargot during pregnancy and the potential benefits.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Escargot (Snails)? Is It Safe?

Pregnant women can eat escargot safely. The main concern with eating escargot during pregnancy is the potential for allergy. As mentioned, seafood allergies are more common in pregnant women (source: North Shore Associates).

If you have a seafood allergy, you should avoid escargot. Allergic reactions can cause symptoms such as hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face, tongue, and throat (source: World Allergy Organization Journal).

eating the fried snails with garlic butter

Another concern with eating escargot during pregnancy is the potential for bacterial food poisoning if they’re not cooked properly. Snails can carry a parasitic infection called rat lungworm. This infection can cause eosinophilic meningitis, a severe brain infection.

However, the risk of rat lungworm infection from eating escargot is low. The snails are usually cooked before being served, and the heat from cooking kills the parasite (source: WebMD).

Escargot is also often served with garlic butter, so make sure that the garlic butter has been pasteurized. Unpasteurized dairy products such as butter and garlic can carry bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Food poisoning can cause serious illnesses, particularly in pregnant women (source: CDC).

In addition, it is crucial only to eat escargot purchased from a reputable source. Make sure that the escargot is harvested from clean waters and has been appropriately stored. Poorly harvested and/or stored escargot can also lead to food poisoning.

Is Escargot Good for Pregnant Women? The Benefits

While there are some concerns with eating escargot during pregnancy, there are also some potential benefits.

baked escargot with cheese on a plate
  • Protein: Protein is essential for the growth and development of the baby. It is also vital for the mother as it helps prevent excessive weight gain and maintains muscle mass (source: Advances in Nutrition Journal). Pregnant women need about 60 grams of protein per day (source: HHS Public Access Journal). Half a cup of Escargot has 10 grams of protein, which can be an excellent way to achieve the recommended amount (source: USDA).
  • Iron: Iron is an essential nutrient for pregnant women as it helps to prevent anemia. Anemia during pregnancy can lead to fatigue and other complications (source: Saudi Medical Journal). Escargot is an excellent source of iron. The recommended daily iron intake for pregnant women is 30 mg(source: BMC Pregnancy and childbirth Journal). Half a cup of escargot has 1.8 mg of iron (source: USDA).
  • Zinc: Zinc is important for developing the baby’s brain and nervous system (source: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition). The recommended daily zinc intake for pregnant women is 11-12 mg (source: Harvard). One hundred grams of escargot has 1 mg of zinc (source: Nutrition Value).
  • Calcium: Calcium is vital for the development of the baby’s bones and teeth. It is also important for the mother as it helps to prevent osteoporosis. The recommended daily calcium intake for pregnant women is 1200 mg (source: WHO). Half a cup of escargot has 99.7 mg of calcium(source: USDA).

While escargot has some nutrients that are important for pregnant women, it is essential to remember that eating escargot does come with some health risks.  Ensure it has been purchased from/prepared by a reputable source, cooked properly, and avoid eating escargot if you have a seafood allergy.

We hope this article helped answer your questions. As always, speak to your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.

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

Gina Waggott

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.

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