1. Pregnancy
  2. Pregnancy lifestyle
  3. Diet

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What Is and Isn’t Safe to Eat During Pregnancy: 15 Delicious Questions

Sticking to a healthy and balanced diet during pregnancy can benefit both the person who’s pregnant as well as the baby. A balanced diet is essential for the growth and proper development of the baby, and it also helps maintain a healthy weight and overall vitality during pregnancy. Here we answer the most popular questions about what is and isn’t safe to eat when pregnant.

Meat provides the body with the protein necessary for the baby’s growth. It can also help renew and restore tissues. Experts strongly recommend avoiding the consumption of raw meat during pregnancy. If you do eat meat while pregnant, it’s crucial that it’s cooked thoroughly. 

Raw meat dishes (for example, rare steaks, carpaccio, salami, or raw ham) can contain harmful bacteria and pose a danger to the pregnant person and the baby. Raw meat should be avoided during pregnancy.

Fish is a source of protein and an excellent supplier of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and iron. But raw fish should be avoided during pregnancy. Cook fish thoroughly to avoid parasitic infections. Avoid king mackerel, marlin, tilefish, shark, swordfish, and bigeye tuna during pregnancy as they tend to be higher in mercury, which is dangerous to the fetus. If you eat fish from local waters, make sure it’s not contaminated.

Avoid raw fish sushi during pregnancy, and try cooked fish or vegetable rolls instead.

Seafood is healthy to eat during pregnancy. It contains essential nutrients that contribute to the development of the baby’s brain, but it is important to ensure seafood is thoroughly cooked. 

Bivalve mollusks or shellfish in the shell (e.g., mussels, oysters) should open when cooked for four to nine minutes in boiling water, and shrimp and lobster should turn white when it’s cooked. Make sure to cook peeled oysters (by boiling or frying them) for at least three minutes. 

Eating raw seafood increases the risk of gastrointestinal issues, blood infections, and skin lesions. That’s why it’s crucial to avoid eating raw seafood while pregnant to avoid infections and their complications.

Eggs are a healthy option during pregnancy, and the yolk is especially rich in vitamin D. Eggs may be contaminated with salmonella, however. Avoid consuming raw or undercooked eggs, as well as food items made from them: carbonara, eggnog, raw batter, sauces and salad dressings, hollandaise sauce, etc. 

Hard-boiled eggs are a great option to eat during pregnancy.

Raw-milk products and soft, semi-soft, surface-ripened, and moldy cheeses can contain listeriosis-causing bacteria. It’s better to avoid them while pregnant. 

Better options would be hard cheeses or cheese from pasteurized milk. Chilled meat pâtés should be avoided for the same reason.

Eating store-bought ice cream during pregnancy is safe because it is made from pasteurized milk and eggs, and the risk of food poisoning is negligible.

Make sure to choose pasteurized ingredients when making ice cream at home.

Citrus fruits are healthy to eat during pregnancy because they are rich in vitamin C and folic acid, which are essential for fetal development. Vitamin C also improves the absorption of iron, which is necessary for the supply of oxygen to the baby. 

Citrus fruits can sometimes cause allergic reactions in the person who consumes them, but there has been no confirmed link between a parent who eats citrus during pregnancy and the formation of allergies in the child in the future.

There is evidence that a mushroom diet may reduce the risk of hypertension during pregnancy and helps control diabetes and obesity. Button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, honey mushrooms, and butter-foot boletes can be great choices during pregnancy. They are healthy and can be easily distinguished from poisonous species. For safety, totally avoid eating raw and dried mushrooms. It’s crucial that they are fully cooked. 

Marinated and canned mushrooms are not recommended because there is a risk of botulism infection.

Honey is a healthy and natural dessert. Consuming it during pregnancy is safe in most cases. 

However, remember that honey is a fairly strong allergen. People who are even slightly predisposed to allergies should likely exclude honey from their diet.

Garlic has excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic is safe during pregnancy and has many advantages if consumed in moderate amounts. Eating too much garlic can cause heartburn, though.

Ginger can alleviate toxicosis symptoms (nausea and vomiting), but it is important to consume it in small quantities. Experts recommend avoiding ginger in the last weeks of pregnancy because of its blood-thinning properties, which might cause postpartum hemorrhage.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has included aspartame, sucralose, and stevia in the list of sugar substitutes that are safe during pregnancy. Make sure to avoid crude stevia leaf, stevia infusions, and extracts of the whole leaf. The use of sweeteners can have adverse effects on health (for example, headaches, digestive problems, etc.), so they should be consumed in moderation.

Some people believe that peanuts aren’t safe during pregnancy because they can be very allergenic. However, peanuts should be avoided only if the person is allergic to them. Otherwise, they haven’t been proven to adversely affect the fetus. 

Moreover, peanuts contain choline, which is good for the development of the baby’s brain and can prevent some fetal defects.

Experts recommend that pregnant people exclude raw sprouts (such as radish, bean, alfalfa, clover, etc.) from their diet.

If bacteria get into the sprouts, it is almost impossible to wash them out, and this can cause food poisoning. This is an unnecessary risk. Fully cooked sprouts can be consumed safely.

Ready-to-eat salads with ham, chicken, or seafood can pose a danger as they can contain various bacteria that are destroyed only by thorough cooking. Salad dressing can also include unsafe foods like raw eggs. Any ready-to-eat food can pose a risk for a pregnant person. 

To rule out the risk of food-borne infection, experts suggest making these salads at home to ensure that the ingredients are cooked properly.

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“Pregnancy nutrition: Foods to avoid during pregnancy.” Mayo Clinic, MFMER, Accessed Dec 31, 2019, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-nutrition/art-20043844

Berthold Koletzko, Monika Cremer, et al. “Diet and Lifestyle Before and During Pregnancy – Practical Recommendations of the Germany-wide Healthy Start – Young Family Network” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Accessed Sep 25, 2018,
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