Every expectant mom knows there are certain foods that should be avoided during pregnancy to protect the health of their unborn baby. The list, however, has become so long and so controversial that it’s difficult to know which foods/drinks actually pose a health risk and which ones are actually safe for consumption.
When it comes to pregnancy, there are certain foods that should most definitely be avoided. Foods that are too high in mercury or Vitamin A can pose a health risk to your baby, as can foods that are known to cause foodborne illness such as Listeriosis and Salmonella poisoning.
If you’re worried about your diet, talk to your doctor to find out exactly what foods you can or cannot eat. In the meantime, you should definitely avoid eating the following 10 foods which have been proven to be the most dangerous when it comes to pregnancy.
If you don’t cut anything else out of your diet during your pregnancy, make sure you remove the following foods:
1. Feta Cheese
Feta is a popular form of cheese, used in many salads and pastas and adored by food connoisseurs all over the world. If you’re a cheese lover who craves it even more during pregnancy, it’s important to know what cheese is safe. Unfortunately, this type of cheese (along with other soft, unpasteurized cheese which we talk about later in this article) has been linked to foodborne illness.
The most popular foodborne illness linked with this particular type of cheese is Listeriosis. In general, if you aren’t pregnant, consuming foods with Listeria would cause flu-like symptoms and not have any lasting effect or damage to your health. But if you are pregnant, avoid any cheeses that have “unpasteurized” on the label and opt for safer choices like mozzarella cheese instead. When infected with Listeriosis, there’s risk of a miscarriage, premature labor, and severe illness. Interestingly, some meats are also a risk to pregnant women because they may contain listeria. Keep reading to learn about these meats.
2. King Mackerel
King mackerel may be a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids for average individuals but the high level of mercury in this particular fish (and a few others on our list) can be potentially dangerous to your unborn baby. Too much mercury can damage your baby’s developing nervous system. The risks of consuming king mackerel fish while pregnant far outweigh the benefits, especially when there are a lot of other fish you can eat instead. For those who really like mackerel, there are some other types of mackerel that are okay in moderation, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
Ensure you get the right amount of omega-3 fatty acids by eating healthy, safer types of fish like salmon, tilapia and shrimp and staying within the recommended guidelines for mercury consumption (as noted in slide 9 of this article). To be safe, skip raw fish when you order sushi – there are tons of rolls and other dishes available to you that are much safer to eat and don’t pose a risk to your unborn baby.
3. Caffeinated Coffee/Tea/Pop
The amount of caffeine a pregnant woman can safely consume has been widely argued by many experts. Caffeine can cross the placenta and affect your baby’s heart rate. Common sources of caffeine include, but are not limited to, coffee, tea and pop. Many doctors recommend that pregnant women consume no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day.
On average, an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains approximately 95 milligrams of caffeine, an 8-ounce cup of tea contains about 47 milligrams and and a 12-ounce pop contains about 29 milligrams. If you’re unsure about how much caffeine is safe, it’s best to avoid it altogether until you talk to your doctor. Some doctors don’t think it’s a big deal to have caffeine in moderation while others advocate that caffeinated drinks should be avoided completely. So get the information you need from your doctor to make an informed decision about caffeine during your pregnancy.
4. Brie Cheese
Brie cheese, similar to feta cheese, is commonly unpasteurized and can pose potential health risks to you and your unborn baby. These types of soft cheeses are commonly linked to foodborne illnesses such as Listeriosis. Listeriosis can be incredibly dangerous for pregnant women. Even a mild form of this infection can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or severe illness in newborn babies. Always check the label and avoid any foods that indicate that they are “unpasteurized.” Some doctors say that if the unpasteurized cheese is cooked, it is okay to eat, but you shouldn’t take this chance until you’ve spoken with your doctor.
Unpasteurized means that the milk the cheese is made with is raw, which is what gives it the potential to contain the disease, Listeria. Cheeses that use pasteurized milk have a very low chance of carrying the disease. There are a surprising amount of cheeses that are commonly thought to be pasteurized but aren’t, so make sure the product label explicitly says it’s pasteurized to cover your bases. If you aren’t sure, don’t risk it.
5. Deli Meats
Deli meats are a staple lunch item in households across North America. They’re convenient and cheap, make filling sandwiches, and children generally like them, but their safety related to pregnant women has been a controversial topic for years. In general, processed deli meats should be avoided during pregnancy. These meats have been linked to causing Listeriosis – a dangerous foodborne illness that can cause miscarriage, severe illness and even stillbirths. The average person would feel mild flu-like symptoms but the disease is much more severe for women who are pregnant.
Listeria is a rare disease, but pregnant women are more susceptible to getting the virus, and unborn, developing babies are at a higher risk of developing complications from the disease. Foods in this category include any processed deli meats (ham, turkey, chicken, salami etc) as well as uncooked hot dogs and bologna. Either cook these meats until they are steaming hot – or avoid them altogether.