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Pregnant and mackerel

  1. During pregnancy, women should be careful about eating some types of fish. Predatory fish and smoked fish are on the list of dangerous fish species in particular. Mackerel is a predatory fish that is often smoked. In many cases it is therefore better not to eat mackerel by pregnant women. But not all mackerel is dangerous. There are still plenty of mackerel species that can be eaten during pregnancy, and are even very healthy for pregnant women. Only be careful with pre-packaged smoked mackerel and king mackerel as these can pose a potential danger to the unborn baby. [! 159667 => 1130 = 1898!] Mackerel

  1. Mackerel is a popular fatty fish. The fish is found in various areas, such as the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, but also in our own North Sea. The females lay many eggs, each containing a drop of oil so that they float in the water. The young fish mainly feed on plankton. The older fish are fast swimmers and are therefore good predatory fish. The menu includes lobsters, fish larvae, small herrings and sprat. Adult mackerels are about 30 to 50 centimeters long, maximum 3400 grams and live to about 17 years. Mackerel stocks in the oceans and seas have been maintained for decades, making mackerel an affordable fish that can be eaten responsibly.


  1. Mackerel contains reddish flesh that can spoil quickly. Fresh mackerels are therefore often only sold at fish shops and must be prepared soon after purchase. To extend the shelf life of mackerel, the fish is often steamed and sometimes smoked.

Steamed mackerel

  1. Steamed mackerel is steamed in moist air at about 60 to 90 degrees Celsius. When the mackerel is cooked, it is still smoked. This is usually done chemically by passing the mackerels through a smoke condensate. This gives the fish a smoky taste without hanging the fish in the smoke. Yet there are also companies that smoke the mackerel in smoking cabinets, which often gives a better taste. By smoking, the oxidation of the fats is interrupted, which makes the mackerels last longer. Steamed mackerel often has white to golden yellow flesh with loose skin.

Smoked mackerel

  1. Mackerel can be smoked cold and hot. Hot smoking often also refers to steamed mackerel, because steamed mackerel is usually also smoked. Cold smoking mackerel is hardly ever done in Dutch. But about one percent of mackerels are cold smoked. Cold smoking is often done at home by hobby chefs or anglers. Cold smoked mackerel is first salted and then hung in smoke of about thirty degrees for about six hours. This will cook the fish and give it a gray, glassy color. The meat is firmer and has a saltier and stronger taste.

Mackerel species

  1. There are several species of mackerel that belong to the Scombirdae family, in total about 50 species. They are often named after their habitat, such as the Chilean mackerel, the Icelandic mackerel, the Spanish mackerel and the Indian mackerel. But the species can also be named after characteristic properties such as the snake mackerel or the short mackerel. The mackerel species can be subdivided into 15 different genera. King mackerel is an important sex for pregnant women, as it can be toxic.

King mackerel

  1. A king mackerel is a large mackerel that can reach almost two meters in length and weigh between five and fourteen kilograms, but exceptional weights of 40 kilograms are also found. It is found in the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of North and South America and likes tropical temperatures. King mackerel likes to eat other types of fish such as squid, sardines and anchovies. King mackerels are not recommended for pregnant women because they may contain high concentrations of methylmercury. This can lead to mercury poisoning by eating too much king mackerel. In addition, eating king mackerel runs the risk of ciguatera poisoning.


  1. King mackerel can often be distinguished from common mackerel because this species is larger. But mackerel jacks are often confused with mackerel. Due to their external characteristics, different mackerel species can be distinguished by a good fishmonger.

Health Benefits

  1. Fatty fish is healthy for pregnant women because they contain many good fatty acids that are essential and cannot be produced by the body itself. The fat content of mackerel is high, so mackerel contains the most omega-3 of all fish species. Omega-3 fatty acids lower cholesterol and play an important role in eye function and brain metabolism. Eating omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy therefore ensures better development of the brain and nervous system. Mackerel also contains many vitamins and minerals such as A, B6, B12, C, D, E, K. and calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and selenium. Increased advice is given for vitamin D during pregnancy because vitamin D is indispensable for building the skeleton of the fetus. Calcium and iron are also important minerals for pregnant women. Calcium is needed for bone building, and iron helps prevent anemia during pregnancy.


  1. Although mackerel is healthy, there are also a number of dangers for pregnant women. The dangers are the risk of Listeriosis and mercury poisoning.


  1. Listeria is a bacterium that can cause mild symptoms in healthy people. Many people will not even notice that they have contracted an infection with the bacteria. But this is different for pregnant women. Listeria can cross the placenta and thus infect the unborn child. This can lead to miscarriage. Pregnant women are therefore recommended to be careful when eating products with an increased risk of contamination with Listeria during pregnancy. This mainly concerns products that can be kept for longer periods in the refrigerator, because Listeria can grow in the refrigerator at the low temperatures. Examples are smoked fish, meal salads, gas-packed meat products and ready-to-eat pancakes. The danger is especially great with raw products that are kept refrigerated for a longer period of time, such as cold smoked fish. Smoked salmon is therefore a product on which Listeria is very regularly found.

Listeria and mackerel

  1. The difference between smoked salmon and smoked mackerel is that smoked mackerel is hot smoked, or steamed, in 99 percent of the cases. The heat treatment kills Listeria and the chance of contamination is small. However, a vacuum or gas-packed smoked or steamed mackerel can be contaminated after steaming, which means that there can still be large quantities of Listeria on the end product. However, a steamed mackerel can be reheated at home without losing too much flavor. Steamed mackerel is safe to eat. Fresh mackerel will almost never contain Listeria, because it has to be eaten so quickly that Listeria has no chance to grow. This allows pregnant women to also eat fresh mackerel raw. The same applies to fresh cold smoked mackerel, if not kept for long.


  1. Heavy metals, agricultural poisons and waste products end up in oceans. The harmful substances are absorbed by the micro-organism. These are eaten by plankton, so that the plankton can contain the hazardous substances. The concentration of the substances increases each time as it enters the food chain. Mainly large predatory fish contain a lot of waste such as dioxins, PCBs and heavy metals. Exposure in pregnant women may result in lower birth weight.

Mercury poisoning

  1. One of the most dangerous heavy metals that can be found in fish is mercury. If one ingests a high concentration of this, one speaks of mercury poisoning. Mercury poisoning can lead to brain damage and kidney or lung damage. Skin discoloration, fluid retention, impaired vision, hearing or speech impairment may be signs of mercury poisoning. A fetus is extra sensitive to this because of its low body weight. Mercury poisoning during pregnancy can therefore lead to serious birth defects.

Ciguatera poisoning

  1. Ciguatera poisoning is caused by the poison ciguatoxin. This poison is found in algae that live in tropical seas. Algae are eaten by small fish, which in turn are eaten by larger fish. As a result, especially large predatory fish, such as king mackerel, contain a relatively high concentration of this poison. Ciguatera poisoning can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, muscle pain, sensory disturbances and hallucinations. There are no drugs for ciguatera poisoning that make the poisoning untreatable.

Mackerel during pregnancy

  1. Because of the above dangers, it is advisable for pregnant women to avoid the following types of mackerel:

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