Having a well-balanced diet is important for anyone to stay healthy. This is most especially true for a pregnant mom who wants her unborn child to get all the vitamins and nutrients needed. But she should also be aware that there are certain foods that are not safe for her and her child. Here are some foods to avoid during pregnancy.
- Avoid unpasteurized foods like soft cheeses in the cheese dip that may harbor listeria bacteria. Other types of cheese to avoid are brie, camembert, feta, blue cheese, queso blanco, queso fresco and panela. Unless the label says it is pasteurized, it is best not to eat these cheeses. When in doubt always ask the waiter when dining out.
- Avoid uncooked and undercooked meat, poultry and eggs that may be contaminated with toxoplasma, salmonella, E. coli and other bacteria. To ensure that the meat is thoroughly cooked, the temperature should reach at least 145F for whole cuts, 160F for ground meats like hamburger and 165F for chicken breasts. It is best to also avoid raw and undercooked seafood like sushi and raw oysters.
- Avoid seafood high in mercury like swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish. Be aware that even canned light tuna may contain mercury. So albacore tuna and tuna steak should be consumed to no more than 6 ounces or 170 grams a week. Other seafood that can be included in two average meals per week are shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish, anchovies and trout.
- Avoid unwashed fruits and vegetables that may contain the harmful bacteria toxoplasma. Do not wash them with soap. Instead scrub the surface with a small vegetable brush and cut away any bruised areas. Scrub and dry cantaloupe before slicing. Also, avoid any raw sprouts like alfalfa, clover, radish and mung bean. Be careful also with fresh-squeezed juices that may not be pasteurized.
- Avoid excess caffeine. Some studies show that high amounts of caffeine can increase the risk of a miscarriage because caffeine can cross the placenta and affect the baby’s heart rate. Experts recommend less than 200 milligrams a day or about a 12-ounce cup of coffee. But other drinks may contain caffeine like soda, tea, chocolate and high energy drinks so be wary of taking these drinks as well.