For our general health, it is always important that we eat a well balanced diet. This is even more important in pregnancy, as you baby needs nutrients, vitamins and minerals in order to develop as it should. Don’t stress just yet, not many foods are damaging to you or your baby, but there are some that you must avoid during pregnancy, according to Foodsafety.gov (link). These foods will be listed and their effects clarified below.
Certain kinds of fish
This group includes shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. Eating these types of fish may lead to food poisoning on rare occasions, but the real threat is actually the level of mercury contained in them, which is too high to be safe for a pregnant woman. This doesn’t have to mean that you need to stop eating fish completely. Just be sure not to eat more than 12 ounces of fish and/or shellfish per weak and only take those that are lower in mercury, such as salmon, pollock and catfish, and if you choose to eat tuna, don’t exceed the amount of 6 ounces per week. Also, avoid raw or uncooked fish, because it may contain bacteria that might be harmful for you during pregnancy. That means that sushi is off-limits.
Soft cheeses that are made from unpasteurized milk
Cheeses that fit into this category are Brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco and queso fresco. These cheeses are made from unpasteurized milk and are not safe because they may contain Escherichia coli or a genus of bacteria called Listeria, which is considered to be dangerous for pregnant women.
As a replacement for these ‘forbidden’ types of dairy, you can eat hard cheeses (including cheddar or Swiss), or you can check the label when buying any kind of cheese to make sure that it is made with pasteurized milk. Unpasteurized milk also may contain bacteria such as Campylobacter or Salmonella, so you should always make sure that the milk you are buying is pasteurized.
Salads made in stores
These salads include ham salad, egg, chicken and seafood salad (in fact all salads that you can buy in stores, as well as some that are made at home). This also includes sandwiches made with these salads. If you choose to eat them anyway, avoid saving leftovers for later. These salads can be contaminated with Listeria, and be damaging for a pregnant woman’s health.
To make sure that the salad you make at home is not contaminated, follow the food safety basics and clean the vegetables you use thoroughly, keep them in the refrigerator, and keep them separate.
Raw or undercooked sprouts
These include alfalfa, clover, mung bean and radish. Even though raw sprouts are full of nutrients, and are a very popular choice of food, they can also be dangerous, especially for pregnant women. What makes them dangerous is the fact that they contain harmful bacteria such as Escherichia coli as well as Salmonella.
What you can do to make these delicious and nutritious sprouts healthy to eat is to make sure you cook them thoroughly, since only rinsing them will not remove the bacteria they contain. Raw sprouts should be avoided by pregnant women, especially those who have a weaker immune system, as they are at a higher risk of developing foodborne diseases that these sprouts may cause.
It is very important to eat a healthy diet to make sure you and your unborn baby are safe during pregnancy. These changes are not hard to make, especially when you consider how beneficial they will be for you and your baby’s overall health.