Soft cheeses, raw eggs, sashimi and alcohol are some of the obvious foods most expectant mothers already know to avoid. But it seems there are many more foods pregnant women should be cautious of, including raw sprouts, canned vegetables and even a glass of wine.
Why are some foods off-limits when you’re pregnant — but fine if you’re not? First, changes to your immune system now make you more vulnerable to food-borne illnesses. What would’ve meant stomach upset before could mean serious complications now — from dehydration to miscarriage.
So to be safe, avoid the common culprits of food-borne illness:
While you may think you are eating healthily for two, raw sprouts can do more harm than good. Avoid sprinkling raw sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, mung bean, and radish to your meals.
According to Ms Shalek, an expert nutritionist, the seeds are a great host for bacteria such as salmonella, listeria, and e. coli, as they like to fester in these sprouts. To kill off the festering bacteria, Ms Shalek suggested baking the spouts in the oven or sautéeing them in a frypan over the stove.
Caffeine can be consumed during pregnancy – but just not too much. Ideally, Ms Shalek said no more than eight ounce (228g) of caffeine a day.
‘Consuming caffeine in excess can cause a low birth weight for your baby and can cause you heartburn,’ she warned. She suggested drinking sparkling water or hot water with lemon.
Ms Shalek said unpasteurised foods contain bacteria that can make pregnant women sick, so always look out for ‘pasteurised’ products.
She urged to avoid eating imported soft cheeses like brie, feta and gorgonzola, as well as unpasteurised milk. For a safer alternative, drink pasteurised milk, fruit and vegetable juices and eat local soft cheeses.
Most pregnant women are told to avoid alcohol – while some medical experts have suggested it’s okay for expectant mothers to enjoy a glass of wine. But Ms Shalek said she advises women against even touching a drop of alcohol.
For those who consumed alcohol before knowing about their pregnancy, she said there’s likely to be nothing to worry about – but seek a doctor if you have any concerns. If you’re at a social event, she suggested drinking sparkling water with lemon.
Because raw eggs may be tainted with salmonella, a bacterium that can cause fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, watch out for restaurant-made Caesar salad dressing, homemade eggnog, raw cookie dough, and soft scrambled or sunny-side up eggs — any dish in which the eggs (both yolk and white) are not cooked completely.
“If eggs are cooked, the risk is gone,” adds Madeleine Sigman-Grant, PhD, maternal child health and nutrition extension specialist at the University of Nevada.
With the exception of California rolls and other cooked items, sushi is not safe when you’re expecting, either, because it may contain illness-inducing parasites.
Stay away from juice (like cider) sold at farm stands; it may not have undergone pasteurization, a processing method that kills bacteria and toxins. Though the majority of milk and juices sold in stores today are pasteurized, there are still some brands on shelves that aren’t, so read labels.
Some Varieties of Fish
Fish, which boasts omega-3 fatty acids that help baby’s brain development, is a great meal choice right now. But some varieties should be shunned due to high levels of methyl-mercury, a pollutant that can affect baby’s nervous system. These include swordfish, shark, and tilefish — all big species that live longer, accumulating more mercury in their flesh. (You may want to avoid these fish entirely during your childbearing years because your body stores mercury for up to four years).