Can you eat imitation crab meat while pregnant?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat imitation crab meat while pregnant?”. We will further elaborate on the taste of imitation crab, the nutritional content of imitation crab, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of imitation crab.

Can you eat imitation crab meat while pregnant?

Yes, you can eat imitation crab during pregnancy without any doubt. Imitation crab is cooked; so, it is safe to consume during pregnancy. It is typically more reasonable than real crab and consists of pollock, egg whites, artificial flavoring, and sugar.

Pollock is a fish containing a low amount of mercury and for this reason, it is safe to eat it during pregnancy. But consumption must not exceed two to three servings per week.

However, it should be consumed with caution by pregnants, since it contains high amounts of sodium (3).

Imitation crab

Imitation crab, also called crab sticks, crab sticks or crab meat, is a type of seafood derivative called surimi. Surimi is a fish paste made from a variety of fish species, including Alaska pollock, the largest fishery in the world, and is used to make a variety of seafood products, including both traditional Japanese fish cakes and imitation seafood products (e.g. ‘krab’), which is the most common form in the US and Europe. Surimi is traditionally a bland- flavored white product onto which flavorings, colors and other additives are applied during further processing. These, combined with various shaping and cooking techniques, give a variety of traditional and new products (1). 

Imitation crab is made of starch plus finely pulverized white fish. This white fish is shaped and cured to have similarities with the leg meat of snow crab. This product is utilized to imitate shellfish meat.   

The taste of imitation crab

From the name of imitation crab, some people assume it as a crab. While rather, it is a puree of fish. The flavor of imitation crab is usually mild. Its flavor resembles Pollack, whiting, or a blend. The taste of imitation crab is sweet with a slightly fishy flavor.

The nutritional content of imitation crab

The investigation on the proximate composition of surimi showed that 100 g of surimi contains 76 g of moisture, 17 g protein, 0.6 g ash, 0.1 g fat and 7 g carbohydrate (2). Nutrients found in imitation crab meat include:

  • Protein
  • Potassium
  • Sulfur
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Phosphorus

Different recipes in which imitation crab is used

Crab ceviche: 

Firstly all the ingredients are collected including tomatoes, red onion, olive oil, salt and pepper, lime, and one package of imitation crab meat. After collecting all the ingredients, shredded imitation crab is placed in a glass or porcelain bowl. 

For placing shredded crab, plastic and metal bowls must not be used. Olive is stirred into the crabmeat and is coated. After coating, it is stirred in the cilantro, onion, tomatoes, and Serrano peppers. Lime juice is squeezed and before serving, it must be refrigerated for about an hour.

Imitation crab roll: 

All the ingredients are combined, excluding imitation crab meat and butter in a bowl. Then imitation crab is added in whole lumps. After adding imitation crabs to the mixture, it is combined with the sauce. 

But it must be kept in mind that mixing must be done gently so that meat may not break apart. The mixture must be allowed to rest for about five to fifteen minutes so that flavors may blend with it. Then it is loaded into buns and the tops of the buns are brushed with butter.

Imitation crab cake: 

Mayo, Dijon mustard, hot sauce, and eggs are combined in a small bowl. Imitation crab is broken apart in another box until it becomes flaky. After adding parsley and bread crumbs these are mixed in the best way. 

Along with imitation crab mixture, pour the wet ingredients into the bowl. Blending is done either by handheld mixer or with our hands. Now ten patties can be made from this mixture. Butter and oil are heated in a large skillet on a medium flame. 

Rab cakes are fried until they become golden brown. After this flip, the other side is fried for seven minutes. The dipping sauce is prepared by mixing all the sauce ingredients in a small container. Now crab cake is served with dipping sauce.

The advantages of imitation crab meat

Radicals including reactive oxygen and nitrogen species cause disease, therefore the removal of such radicals to reduce the risk of disease is recommended. High blood pressure is a well-known chronic disease in adults. Angiotensin I converting enzyme (ACE) is a powerful enzyme for increasing blood pressure. Since food instead of medicine is recommended for the treatment of high blood pressure, hydrolyzed proteins from dairy products, fishes and shellfish have been studied and reported to inhibit. 

Studies show that surimi hydrolysates express different bioactivities such as radical scavenging activity, angiotensin I converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitory activity, and lipoxygenase inhibitory activity (2).

Macronutrient composition and calories: 

The calorie content of imitation crab meat is very low. Calories that we obtain from imitation crab meat, come from the carbohydrate portion of it. Also some macronutrients like protein, carbohydrates, etc. 

Imitation crab is a good source of lean protein. Protein hydrolysates or peptides have health-related functions such as antioxidant function, blood pressure reduction, and peroxidation prevention (2).

Vitamin content: 

Because imitation crab is made from fish proteins, it contains the vitamins found in fish (1). From the consumption of imitation crab meat, a lot of vitamins like vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 are obtained. These vitamins facilitate nerve cell communication and enhance the production of red blood cells.

Minerals: 

Some minerals like selenium and phosphorus can be obtained from imitation crab meat. These minerals are very effective for cardiovascular health and in the regulation of our immune system.

Studies show that surimi is a good source of Phosphorus (0.26%), Potassium (0.23%), Calcium (0.15%), Magnesium (0.14%). In 100 g surimi there are: 0.1 mg Cooper, 1.9 mg Zink and 0.8 mg Iron (3).

The disadvantages of imitation crab meat

Following are some disadvantages of imitation crab meat due to which some people don’t prefer eating imitation crab meat.

Food additives: 

Some food additives are present in imitation crab meat because it is highly processed. These food additives are not good for health. The high amount of sodium is also a disadvantage of eating surimi, thus it could increase blood pressure. Therefore, it should be part of a sodium balanced diet (3).

High level of cadmium: 

A huge amount of cadmium is present in imitation crab meat. This cadmium provides many side effects to our bodies.

Other FAQs about Crabs that you may be interested in.

Are dead crabs safe to eat?

Are crab legs safe to eat while pregnant?

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat imitation crab meat while pregnant?”. We have further elaborated on the taste of imitation crab, the nutritional content of imitation crab, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of imitation crab.

References

  1. Hall, George M., and N. H. Ahmad. Surimi and fish-mince products. Fish processing technology. Springer, Boston, MA, 1997. 74-92.
  2. Yoshie-Stark, Yumiko, et al. Bioactivities of surimi from southern blue whiting prepared by different ways. Food Chem, 2009, 113, 47-52.
  3. Stine, J. J., et al. Recovery and utilization of protein derived from surimi wash‐water. J Food Qual, 2012, 35, 43-50.