6 Foods That Are Off-Limits During Pregnancy
Is it safe to drink green juice while pregnant? Find out what foods you should steer clear of so you and baby can keep healthy
When you have a bun in the oven, all of your favorite foods seem to be off-limits: blue cheese, deli meat, sushi, runny eggs, swordfish, rare-cooked steak, raw oysters, and, of course, booze. Sigh. And while the foods on the naughty list seem to be exhaustive (to say the least), as a hungry mama-to-be you may often find yourself wondering whether other grub-such as lox, homemade ice cream, and green juice-is safe to consume. Read on to find out. (Whether you want a baby now or not, it's important to learn how to take care of yourself to ensure a healthy pregnancy. In fact, a recent study shows Half of Women Don't Know Basic Facts About Baby-Making.)
You've become a green drink fiend and know it's a great way to get much-needed nutrients. Unfortunately, most fresh-pressed and bottled juices are unpasteurized. This means they haven't been treated to kill harmful microbes, such as Toxoplasma, a parasite that can be found on unwashed fruits and veggies and can cause hearing loss, mental retardation, and blindness in your baby, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Verdict: Since you can't be certain that juice bars and manufacturers are as stringent about cleaning their produce or equipment as needed, make your own green drinks with well-scrubbed ingredients and be sure to thoroughly clean your machine afterward.
You already know to steer clear of deli meats, which can harbor the bacteria Listeria. Although it's incredibly rare (about 1,700 people in the U.S. get sick from it each year), pregnant women are about 20 times more likely to become infected. According to the American Pregnancy Association, it's okay to eat deli meat as long as you heat it until steaming-about 160 degrees. But are those crispy, melt-y toasted sandwiches from Subway, Quiznos, Potbelly's, and Panera hot enough to eat? Sorry to say, but the answer just isn't clear since they're not tested. Instead, heat homemade sandwiches on your own (in the microwave or on the stove) or stick to non-deli meat options such as veggie, meatball, or roasted chicken when ordering out.
There isn't enough evidence to strictly declare whether the fizzy fermented tea is safe to consume during pregnancy or not, but most signs point toward leaving it on the shelf until after baby is here (and probably until you're done breastfeeding). The fermentation process results in naturally occurring alcohol that may range from 0.5 percent to up to 3 percent (as high as some beers). Plus, most kombucha drinks are unpasteurized, and as far as the FDA is concerned that's a no-no during pregnancy.
Homemade Ice Cream
Pregnancy cravings are real. While store-bought ice cream is a-okay, homemade versions are often made with uncooked eggs, which may contain Salmonella. Either steer clear or follow these tips for a safer homemade scoop: Use pasteurized eggs and thoroughly reheat the eggs with the liquid mixture when making the base.
Smoked fish is confusing. It's smoked (so that means it's cooked, right?), but it still appears raw. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to skip it since it can still contain Listeria. The smoking process may not heat the food enough to kill the bacteria. It's okay to consume smoked fish if it's within a cooked dish such as a casserole, however. The same rules apply for other refrigerated smoked fish and spreads such as trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, and mackerel, as well as those labeled as "nova-style" or "jerky."
You've whittled your caffeine consumption down to a cup or two per day, but are herbal teas safe to sip? According to the American Pregnancy Association, the concern with consuming herbal teas during pregnancy is the lack of research available on how most herbs affect a developing fetus. Your best bet: Choose teas that list the ingredients on the label and if you can recognize them, they're probably fine, says Joanne Stone, M.D., director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Also beware of the caffeine content: Herbal teas are naturally caffeine-free, but check the label on other kinds and to make sure you're getting 200 milligrams of caffeine or less per day.