Certain foods should only be consumed rarely, while others should be avoided completely.
Here are 12 foods and beverages to avoid or minimize during pregnancy.
1. High Mercury Fish
Mercury is a highly toxic element. Mercury found in oceans, streams, and lakes, converts into methylmercury in the human body. It has no known safe level of exposure, and is most commonly found in polluted water. It is a neurotoxin and is linked to brain damage and developmental delays in babies. Therefore, pregnant women are advised to limit their consumption of high-mercury fish to no more than 1-2 servings per month.
High-mercury fish include:
- King mackerel
- Tuna (especially albacore tuna)
Consuming low-mercury fish during pregnancy is very healthy, and these fish can be eaten up to 2 times per week. Fatty fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for the baby. You could choose fish such as salmon, catfish, cod, and canned light tuna, which have low mercury levels. . You should, however, check with a doctor to know about the fish you can eat.
2. Raw Shell Fish
Raw fish, especially shellfish such as oysters, clams, and mussels, can cause several infections. These include norovirus, Vibrio, Salmonella, Listeria and parasites. They contain harmful bacteria, viruses, and toxins that will make you ill. Pregnant women are especially susceptible to Listeria infections. This bacteria can be found in soil and contaminated water or plants. Raw fish can become infected during processing, including smoking or drying. Instead you can eat cooked shellfish ensuring that you cook them with their shells open.
3. Raw Meat
Eating under-cooked or raw meat can cause toxoplasmosis as it contains Toxoplasma parasite. It leads to flu-like symptoms that develop a few weeks after consumption of that food. It can lead to miscarriage or fetal death during delivery. Under-cooked meat also contains harmful bacteria salmonella, which increases the risk of food poisoning.
You must have well-cooked and hot meat and poultry. Eat home-cooked varieties where the temperature should be around 160°F for ground meats, 145°F for whole cuts, and 165°F for chicken breasts.
Some whole cuts of meat — such as tenderloins, sirloins or ribeye from beef, lamb and veal — may be safe to consume when not cooked all the way through.
Pregnant women should not consume processed meat products unless they’ve been reheated until steaming hot.
4. Raw Eggs
You should not eat raw, under-cooked, or soft-boiled eggs as they contain harmful salmonella bacteria which cause food poisoning. Salmonella include fever, nausea, vomiting, high temperature, stomach cramps and diarrhea.
The following foods contain raw egg and must be avoided:
- Lightly scrambled eggs
- Poached eggs
- Hollandaise sauce
- Salad dressings
- Homemade ice cream
- Cake icings
- Homemade Custards
- Homemade Mousse
- Hollandaise sauces
- Béarnaise sauce
- Aioli sauce
Most commercial products that contain raw eggs are made with pasteurized eggs, and are safe to consume. You can choose commercially manufactured ice cream, mousse, eggnog, and dressings. However, you should always read the label to make sure. Eat cooked eggs that contain firm yolks or a well-cooked omelette, and salads.
6. Certain Fruits & Vegetables
The Below Fruits Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy:
The unripe and semi ripe papaya varieties are rich in latex which tends to trigger uterine contractions, leading to early labour. As papaya is known to cure heartburn, anemia and constipation, it can be ingested during second trimester under the consultation of your gynecologist.
Grape fruit has heat content which may affect the mother and the baby especially in the final trimester. Even the intake of raisins should be limited during the third trimester.
Pineapple contains rich amount of ‘Bromelain’ that causes the softening of the cervix which may induce an early labour in pregnant women.
The below vegetables should be avoided during pregnancy:
Having half an eggplant everyday would help to trigger off menstruation that had been irregular for more than a year. On the basis of this property, eggplant is regarded as dangerous to consume during pregnancy.
Cooked cabbage is safer during pregnancy than raw, however, since cooking limits the risk of food-borne illness.
Caffeine is the most commonly used psychoactive substance in the world, and is mainly found in coffee, tea, soft drinks and cocoa. Pregnant women should limit your intake to 200mg a day or 2–3 cups of coffee. Caffeine is also found in tea, chocolate, and many energy drinks. High caffeine intake during pregnancy has been shown to restrict fetal growth and increase the risk of low birth weight at delivery.
8. Unpasteurized milk, Cheese, Fruit Juice :
It is unsafe to drink unpasteurized or raw milk and cheese during pregnancy. It can contain an array of harmful bacteria, including Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter.
Unpasteurized juice which is also prone to bacterial infections. A glass of freshly made juice may also pose a risk if the fruits or vegetables are not washed well.
Pasteurization is the most effective way to kill off any harmful bacteria, without changing the nutritional value of the products. To minimize the risk of infections, pregnant women are advised to consume only pasteurized milk, cheese and fruit juice.
9. Street foods
Pregnant women may craving for those sweet, sour, and spicy treats. But all pregnant women should avoid Street food. They can increase the risk of infections, stomach problems, and food poisoning. They are harmful because of the poor food and water hygiene standards.
Some examples of the street foods include:
- Corn in Cup
- Hot Dogs
- Chinese food
- Cotton Candy
- Panipuri / Chaats
- Sandwich/ Burgers
- Soft pretzels
If you like street food, find recipes of these foods online and make them at home!
10. Fatty foods
Pregnant woman should avoid trans-fats or hydrogenated fats including fast foods, processed foods, and takeaways such as crackers, cookies, frozen pizza, fried foods, margarine, and frosting.There may be risk of heart diseases, obesity, increased fetal growth, and preterm labor.
11. Sugar-Rich Food
Every Pregnant women or who is trying to conceive should cut down on sugar rich foods like desserts, candies, cakes, ice creams, biscuits, chocolates, and sweetened beverages. They worsen pregnancy discomforts (nausea, vomiting, constipation, heartburn), increase weight, contribute to gestational diabetes, and increase the risk of preterm labor, preeclampsia, and increase the risk of metabolic syndrome in babies. Choose healthier sugar food options such as pears, grapefruit, and apricots.
12. Fenugreek seeds & Sesame Seeds
Fenugreek seed or Methi is known to trigger a miscarriage if it consumed during pregnancy. It has properties that can stimulate contraction leading to premature delivery or an abortion. It has have also been reported to cause allergic reactions in pregnant women.
Sesame seeds/ Dry seeds/til have been proven to stimulate the uterine muscles triggering contractions and finally leading to the expulsion of the ovum that has fertilized. It is best to be steer clear of including sesame seeds especially during those first three crucial months. On the other hand all dry fruits are absolutely safe to eat during this period.