Although the video-grab above is not of a pregnant woman eating crab but a mukbang youtuber devouring a sea monster, the picture just attests to the fact that lots and lots of people all over the world just love eating seafood. This statement holds true for Malaysia too. Malaysians are in love with their seafood ─ especially the crab. Just look at the number of restaurants that have sprouted all over the country and especially in the Klang Valley over the years! Due to demand, almost all of them have evolved their business and cuisine around seafood, some exclusively around this delicious crustacean called the crab.
Want To Eat Crab?
So you’re hungry for crab but don’t know where to go? Don’t worry. At any one time, you can just consult the net with a click of the mouse and get recommendations for at least two dozens of the top crab restaurants in town where you can literally eat your heart out.
Fatty Crab Restaurant comes to mind. They’ve been around for years, serving crab and only crab in all its piquant flavours. Fatty Crab is the benchmark that many other younger seafood restaurants aspire to and hope to exceed, so that’s saying something about how competitive the crab cuisine business is in Malaysia.
Over the years, a newer breed of haute crab restaurants have come into the market. Take Ibrahim’s Fatty Crab for example. This is one of the rare halal Chinese seafood restaurants that is successfully tapping into Malaysia’s insatiable seafood appetite market. Getting known for its monstrous Alaskan King Crab prepared in a variety of styles is no doubt helping to put the restaurant on the map.
Of course, there are other crab speciality restaurants on the fame list and they include Fei Fei Crab Restaurant which serves XXL crabs in out-of-this-world flavours like peanut butter and butter cheese, Restoran Meng Kee Grill Fish which is known for its black pepper crab, Restoran Tak Fok Seafood which has salted egg crab, Restoran Hau Kee Seafood with its white pepper crab, A Li Yaa Island Restaurant & Bar which offers magnificent Sri Lankan crab curry, Restoran Siu Siu which is known for both its crabs and its excellent service, Mei Keng Fatt Restaurant (Australian crabs), Hai Peng Seafood Restaurant (sweet and sour crab), Delay No More (salt baked crabs), The Forum (soft shelled crabs) and the list goes on and on.
Suffice to say, we are a love-to-eat-crab country.
So what happens if you love to eat crab too but you’re pregnant?
So what happens if you love to eat crab too but you’re pregnant?
Can Pregnant Women Eat Crab?
And that’s where we come to the million-dollar question. Based on the vast volume of searches done on the internet over this one question ─ Can Pregnant Women Eat Crab? ─ this must be a pressing concern on the minds of those pregnant.
Well, if you know you are already allergic to seafood in your pre-pregnancy days, then the short answer to this question is: No.
But if you’re not allergic to seafood, then the answer gets a little more complicated.
What’s the Complication?
The biggest issue with eating seafood of any kind while pregnant is the risk of eating the pollutants and contaminants such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxins and mercury contained inside the fish and seafood. These toxic chemicals, compounds and elements are known to be stored in our food chain ─ fish, seafood, shellfish included ─ brought about by them having absorbed or consumed prey that would have eaten/absorbed pollution and the industrial effluents poured into our waterways.
For example, PCBs have been found in fish and shellfish as with the heavy metal mercury. The biggest concern nowadays is mercury which is a naturally-occurring element released by our age-old volcanoes and rocks. However, a lot of the mercury in our seas, rivers and lakes these days comes from the pollution caused by our environment and from industrial power plants.
In the end, the old adage ─ “You are what you eat” ─ is exactly as they say it is.
Nevertheless, of all the denizens of the deep that we consider as food, crab belongs to the low category when it comes to contamination. In fact, consuming crab, along with other shellfish, can even be beneficial during pregnancy.
Crabs are safe to eat during pregnancy if:
- The crab is well cooked.
- The organs or guts are not eaten.
- When eaten in moderation. As a rule of thumb, pregnant women may eat up to 12 ounces (340gm) a week of prawns, crawfish, squid, oysters, clams, shrimp, scallops and crab. All should be thoroughly cooked.
- Your cholesterol level is under control and you have your doctor’s go ahead on eating crabs.
- You trust the source of the crab.
Which Crab should you Eat?
The crabs generally available in our local wet markets are Mud Crabs, caught off the estuaries, backwaters and coastal areas of East and West Malaysia. In fact, according to Alibaba.com, Malaysia is the top mud crab producing country across Asia. Malaysian mud crab farms and suppliers have come a long way and breed and cultivate mud crabs for domestic consumption as well as for export.
However, the sought-after crab for seafood epicureans in Malaysia is the imported King Crab, from the Bering Sea. When choosing which crab is the safest to eat while pregnant, choose the king crab. According to Seafood EDF.org, eating king crab is the most secure simply because the content of mercury is lowest. Other popular imported crab varieties are the snow crab, and the dungeness crab but some of these may have higher content of mercury.
But even with king crabs, the amount of mercury they contain can depend on where they have been captured as that particular waterbody might be polluted, leading to those crabs having a higher content of mercury than others.
Health Benefits of Eating Crab When Pregnant
While so much has been said about precautions that should be taken when eating crab during pregnancy, there are actually quite a number of health benefits that you can get from eating the crustacean.
Crabs are rich in vitamins and minerals and provide solid nutrition for developing a baby because they contain:
- Protein ─ (for overall growth and development of fetal tissues, generate new cells, repair tissue)
- Fatty Acids ─ omega-3 fatty acid (for good mental health, combats stress, depression)
- Copper ─ (helps form baby’s heart, blood vessels, and skeletal and nervous systems)
- Zinc ─ (helps support immune system, reduce preterm births)
- Calcium ─ (builds strong bones, maintain high quality of breastmilk for baby)
- Manganese ─ (controls hypertension, keeps nerves and muscles functioning at peak capacity)
- Folate or Folic Acid ─ (ensures neural tube of baby grows without defects, prevents spina bifida. Contains Vitamin B9 ─ a most important vitamin essential for pregnancy)
- Iron ─ (brings up the levels of red blood cells or haemoglobin, builds immunity)
- Cobalamin or Vitamin B12 ─ (prevents spina bifida and other spinal and central nervous system birth defects in baby. Lack of vitamin B12 is linked to miscarriage)
And just to show you how one pregnant woman consumes her crabs, here is a video of her Primal Jungle Recipe ─ cooking crabs caught by herself from off the mud pools of the rainforest stream. She cooks the crabs using primitive methods: a claypot put to boil over a slow fire burning off twigs plucked off the trees. She uses a parang too. Enjoy!
For more of these enlightening pregnancy stories, visit Motherhood.com.my.