Can Pregnant Women Eat Clam Chowder? Here Are the Facts You Need to Know

Looking forward to eating clam chowder every second week of the month is one of the unique traditions we have as a family. We love seafood, and the refreshing taste of clams has made us excited every time we plan to make one for dinner.

But, when I got pregnant, I heard stories of how seafood must be avoided to prevent complications. Can pregnant women eat clam chowder? I wanted to know if it is safe for me before I indulge in them.

I have listed here some helpful information I found out about clam chowder and what it will do during pregnancy.


What are Clams?


A clam is a type of shelled sea creature with its shells attached by a muscular hinge. It burrows its body into the sand using its foot and has a double-tubed siphon that draws water to extract oxygen in their body and filter food while also expelling water and waste from their digestive tracts.

Clams are harvested along the coasts of the Pacific, Gulf, and Atlantic. These shells are cooked into varieties of dishes. What we eat is the siphon of the clams, the foot and the muscles that closes and opens its shell. Its meat is the color of creamy white and can be sweet and chewy when eaten.

Know More About Clam Chowder


Clam chowder is a cooked soup made of clams or fishes and mixed with milk, onion, tomatoes, salt pork, carrots, potatoes and other vegetables. It was originated in the Eastern part of the United States and is commonly served in many restaurants all over the country.

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There are varieties of clam chowder, often depending on the region it is served. For instance, the Manhattan version of clam chowder is tomato-based and has red broth instead of milk. In New Jersey, they add paprika, bacon, light cream, asparagus, and parsley and celery powder.

In New England, milk or cream is the base in the chowder, and it is thicker than the traditional thin soup chowder. In Seattle, smoked salmon is added in place of smoked pork. For people in San Francisco, clam chowders are best served in a sourdough bread bowl.

Is it Safe to Eat Clam Chowder While Pregnant?

Many pregnant women think twice about eating seafood because of the mercury content that may harm the baby. Mercury turns into a neurotoxin called methylmercury when it is collected in oceans and lakes. The toxin can damage the nervous system of the body and is more detrimental to the developing system of a fetus.


There are sea creatures that have high levels of mercury. That is why the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns the consumption of a lot of seafood especially particular fishes found in the Gulf of Mexico.

Still, fishes and other seafood are excellent sources of nutrients such as the essential Omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, protein, magnesium, and other vitamins. Avoiding seafood due to the risk of mercury levels may not be practical given that some seafood is approved to have none to low levels of mercury.

The FDA approves of some fishes as best choices to eat. These foods can be served 2 to 3 servings a week. There are also good choices for seafood that can be served one serving per week. FDA also stressed foods to avoid with high levels of mercury.

Best Choices:

Good Choices:

  • Halibut
  • Snapper
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Tuna

What to Avoid:

  • King Mackerel
  • Shark
  • ​Swordfish
  • Marlin

Clams belong to the group of seafood approved by the FDA as best choices for pregnant women. When you eat clam chowder, your body will be supplied with 23.8 milligrams of iron, which is necessary during pregnancy. Iron helps in the production of red blood cells, so more of these means more blood for your baby.

Clam chowder is also an excellent source of sodium and protein. These nutrients help in providing strength to the mother and assist in the overall development of the fetus.

The baby’s eye and brain development will benefit from eating clam chowder due to its excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and D. If you add tomatoes, it can enhance the vitamin C level in the body and helps in boosting the immune system and the proper absorption of iron in the body.

Other vegetables like potatoes, celery, carrots, and asparagus can also contribute to the other nutrients mothers can receive. Each of these healthy nutrients will also pass on to the fetus, thus receiving the same nutrition.

How to Safely Eat Clam Chowder

Cook it well - According to the American Dietetic Association, eating raw shellfish is not suitable for pregnant women. While clams are good for the body, it needs to be cooked fully and appropriately before eating.

Take it moderately - Taking in a huge amount of clam chowder may increase the amount of mercury and toxins that you put in your body. Excess amounts mean accumulation of the dangerous elements as well. It is crucial that you take only a moderate amount of soup such as one bowl.

Make sure the clams are safe to eat - Just like eating a vegetable or any food, if they are already bad, they may harm your body. Clams need to be fresh, have no bad smells and have creamy white and healthy meat when cooked.

Check out added ingredients - See to it that there are no fishes in the soup that you need to avoid. If you are eating in a restaurant, it is best to ask the servers what they add to the soup.

Limit the number of clams you put in the soup - You can add more vegetables in place of the meat and add only a small amount of it to have an authentic flavor.


Eating healthy foods is important for pregnant women to give the body the needed nutrients for the baby. Expectant mothers need the proper nutrition to keep their bodies healthy to carry their babies carefully in 9 months and to ensure that they do not lack nutrients since they are feeding the baby as well.

When I was pregnant, I saw to it that what I put in my mouth is safe for my baby and me. I started avoiding other foods while eating more vegetables, fruits, and natural foods. Knowing that clam chowder is safe for a pregnant woman, I was so happy to continue with our clam chowder dates every month.

Have you eaten clam chowder while pregnant? How was the experience for you?

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