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Safe Foods During Pregnancy

August 15th, 2016 | By: Sydney Loney
Here's what to eat, and what to avoid, when it comes to pregnancy nutrition

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Safe Foods During Pregnancy

Pregnant women often worry about the safety of the food they eat during pregnancy, says registered dietitian Daina Kalnins. From soft cheese to herbal teas, here’s what you need to know when it comes to safely eating for two.

Unsafe foods during pregnancy:

Some foods simply aren’t safe to eat during pregnancy, often because they can be contaminated by bacteria that puts pregnant women at greater risk than the general population. Here’s a look at the foods you should avoid when you’re pregnant:

1. Soft, unpasteurized cheeses: These include brie, camembert, feta, gorgonzola, and blue cheeses (if these types of cheese are labeled "pasteurized," then they are safe to eat, says Kalnins). “Some pre-packaged soft cheeses, such as feta or chèvre, may be pasteurized, but just check the labels to make sure and avoid buying them fresh from a deli counter.” Unpasteurized cheeses may contain Listeria, putting you at risk of listeriosis. Listeria can also cross the placenta and harm the fetus.

2. Pre-packaged deli meats:  Deli meats may also be contaminated with Listeria and are only safe if reheated until they’re steaming. 

Symptoms of listeriosis include flu-like nausea, vomiting, headache, fever and achy muscles and can occur two to 20 days after eating a contaminated food.

3. Raw fish:  You’ll have to put your sushi habit on hold until after your baby is born. Raw fish (which includes mussels, clams, oysters and sushi), as well as smoked salmon, may be contaminated by salmonella, E. Coli or toxoplasmosis, which can put both you and your baby at risk.

Eating fish during pregnancy is important, says Kalnins. (Health Canada recommends moms-to-be eat at least 150 g of fish each week because it contains omega-3 fats and other important nutrients for pregnancy). But it’s important to be careful when it comes to types that contain high levels of mercury, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tuna and tilefish. Canned light tuna is safe at about two cans per week, while canned albacore tuna should be limited to six oz per week. 

4. Pâté and undercooked meat and eggs: These are all potential sources of bacteria that could be harmful during pregnancy. It’s important to cook all meat and poultry until there is no pink left inside, and cook eggs until they are hard (watch out for homemade recipes that could contain uncooked eggs, such as Caesar salad dressing or hollandaise sauce).