Ladies, growing a tiny human in our bellies requires a lot of nutrients! These building blocks like fat soluble vitamins, amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals literally help them to form. So, we need them to boot before we fall pregnant, and all the way through to after our baby arrives.
The conventional list of ‘foods to avoid’ during pregnancy is outdated and not backed by current research. It also does not consider why food quality matters. It’s time for an update and for mamas to be super-nourished beings!
Too Much Goodness to Miss Out On
If we look at the ‘foods to avoid’ list when we are pregnant, the ones that really stand out to me are runny eggs, soft cheeses, pâté, smoked and raw fish and salad. Let’s look at these foods in more detail to see exactly which nutrients we are potentially missing out on if we avoid them during pregnancy.
- Eggs: choline, vitamin A, vitamin D, B vitamins, iodine, selenium, iodine and folate – this is a pregnancy nutrient super list right here, as these are all key ingredients are involved in maternal and fetal hormone and immune production and the prevention of neural tube defects;
- Soft cheese: calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K2, which aid implantation, fetal skeletal growth and blood sugar management;
- Pâté: iron, vitamin A, choline and folate, which assist haemoglobin production, immune function, gut lining development and neural tube health;
- Smoked and raw fish: omega 3’s, protein, and B vitamins for brain and central nervous system development;
- Salad: a traditional garden salad contains important micronutrients like vitamin C, iron, magnesium and B vitamins for iron absorption, fetal growth, placental health and energy levels.
Hopefully the above list paints a picture for you as to why these foods are so necessary for a healthy pregnancy. They also set the scene for a smoother postpartum ride by helping mama accumulate more stores in her nutrient bank. This will be a vital piece of her postpartum recovery journey.
Including these foods into a well-balanced pregnancy nutrition plan means you are giving yourself and your growing baby the best chance at thriving. Whilst you may not eliminate some of these foods altogether, if you are someone who usually enjoys your eggs runny, for example, you may find yourself eating far less of these than you usually would. Make no mistakes – this is 100% impacting your nutrient status.
Why Quality Matters
So why are these foods considered risky? We know that salmonella and listeria are a real concern during pregnancy but let’s be real about what the current stats say. According to this study and this study, the odds that an egg contains salmonella are between 1 in 12,000 and 1 in 30,000, and 7-times lower with organic or pasture raised eggs. So, don’t skip out on this amazing pregnancy food, and if you source them well, slightly gooey is still ok.
Although pregnant women are more susceptible to listeria, infection is extremely rare. According to the Australian Government Department of Health Communicable Diseases Intelligence Report, from 2013-2015, there were 28 cases of perinatal listeria reported. Read more here.
This is very low when you consider how many women fall pregnant and give birth each year. For foods including smoked and raw salmon, if they are properly sourced, handled and stored, the risk is very low. I recommend sourcing wild caught salmon (and even smoked salmon as it’s a quick and easy option) to avoid antibiotic and hormone exposure.
Most soft cheeses in Australia undergo a process called pasteurisation, which destroys any potential pathogens. Once again, if you purchase quality products, you can eat the occasional brie and camembert with a clear and calm conscience. As Steph would say – you’re welcome.
Pâté, which in my opinion is a superfood because of the nutrient punch it packs, gets a bad wrap because it contains natural vitamin A. This is completely different to the synthetic form found in vitamin formulations, and what a lot of the research is based on. Check out this study for more information. When we consume nutrients in their natural state, our bodies utilise them just as they should. It’s also an amazing source of iron and a great staple to include if you are facing low iron stores during pregnancy.
Have a look at our delicious recipe here.
Thankfully in Australia we have access to a wide range of organic and biodynamic food products. Please see below for some of my favourite brands when it comes to these foods:
- Eggs: Honest Eggs
- Salmon: Fish and Co
- Smoked salmon: Harris Smokehouse
- Pate: Offaly Good Food
- Soft cheese: Divine Dairy
Hopefully this article has shed some light for you and given you the go ahead to start including some of these foods in your pregnancy nutrition plan.
Read a related article here.
At TNN, we are super passionate about making sure all the mamas-to-be out there are nourished, thriving and feeling good. That’s why we’ve created our signature Preconception & Pregnancy Program.
Please reach out to find out more or book a 15 minute complimentary consultation with me here. We’d love to hear from you!
Ebel E, Schlosser W. Estimating the annual fraction of eggs contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis in the United States. Int J Food Microbiol. 2000;61(1):51-62. doi:10.1016/s0168-1605(00)00375-5
Denagamage T, Jayarao B, Patterson P, Wallner-Pendleton E, Kariyawasam S. Risk Factors Associated With Salmonella in Laying Hen Farms: Systematic Review of Observational Studies. Avian Dis 1 June 2015; 59 (2): 291–302.
Australian Government Department of Health. Communicable Diseases Intelligence. Monitoring the incidence and causes of diseases potentially transmitted by food in Australia: Annual report of the OzFoodNet network, 2013–2015. Vol 45. Published 2018. Accessed August 3, 2021. http://www.health.gov.au/cdi
Azaïs-Braesco V, Pascal G. Vitamin A in pregnancy: requirements and safety limits. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71(5 Suppl):1325S-33S. doi:10.1093/ajcn/71.5.1325s