Can I Eat Wasabi When Pregnant? Is It Safe?

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Wasabi is a staple condiment in Japan and Japanese restaurants. That said, “real” wasabi is quite hard to find, and foods labeled as wasabi might not be the real thing. Here, we’ll talk about whether wasabi (real or otherwise!) is safe for pregnant women.

You can eat wasabi while pregnant, but it might be best to stick to small amounts. Wasabi’s main ingredient is horseradish, which contains allyl isothiocyanate, or AITC. AITC stimulates contraction during pregnancy which may lead to miscarriage – but only if eaten in large quantities.

If you’re pregnant and wasabi-curious, you may be wondering if it’s safe to eat. Here’s what you need to know about wasabi consumption while pregnant:

Is It Safe to Eat Wasabi When Pregnant?

Wasabi is a green paste made from the root of the wasabi plant, also called Japanese horseradish. The plant is native to Japan and has been used for centuries as both a food and medicine. Wasabi is rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium.

Most probably the kind of wasabi you’re likely to encounter at a sushi restaurant is not actually genuine wasabi at all, but a mixture of horseradish, mustard, and food coloring. The real stuff is made from the root of the wasabi plant and has a brighter green color and a sharper flavor. Real wasabi is also more expensive and harder to find.

Wasabi sauce in a white spoon

Whether you come across real or fake wasabi, both are safe to eat in moderation during pregnancy. However, Wasabi paste contains allyl isothiocyanate (AITC)(source: J-stage Journal), which is a compound that can stimulate contractions resulting in miscarriage and birth defects (source: New Jersey Department of Health). 

For this reason, it’s best to avoid eating large quantities of wasabi while pregnant. But if you going to use it as a condiment, a little dab here and there shouldn’t pose a problem. It’s worth mentioning here that if you’re eating wasabi because you’re eating sushi or sashimi, you’ll need to check if those dishes are safe – there’s a dedicated sushi during pregnancy article here.

There are certain types of sushi that you should avoid, such as those made with raw fish or shellfish. These can contain bacteria or parasites that can be harmful to you and your baby.

If you have any concerns about wasabi intake while pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider. They can give you tailored advice based on your individual situation.

Because it’s horseradish and/or mustard-based, consuming large amounts of wasabi while pregnant can also lead to other adverse effects, such as:

Because wasabi can irritate the mouth, throat, nose, digestive system, and urinary tract, you might experience the symptoms above (source: WebMD). If you get these symptoms just right after you consume wasabi, it might be best to cut back or limit your intake until after your baby is born.

homemade wasabi peas in a wooden spoon

What about Wasabi Peas and Other Products When Pregnant?

Wasabi peas are another popular snack food that you may be wondering about too. These green peas are coated in a wasabi-flavored powder and have a sharp, spicy taste. Wasabi peas are either flavored with real or fake wasabi so it is better to treat them the same way as the paste – in other words, eat them in moderation.

Another concern about wasabi peas or any wasabi-flavored snack aside from wasabi itself is the sodium content. Most of these products are high in sodium, and you need to limit your intake of salt when pregnant. Too much sodium can lead to water retention, high blood pressure, and swelling (source: Harvard).

If you are craving wasabi peas or anything salty, it is best to eat them in moderation or look for a low-sodium version, or switch to a different snack.

The bottom line is that you can eat wasabi while pregnant, but it’s best to consume it in moderation. If in doubt, talk to your healthcare provider about whether or not eating wasabi is right for you.