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3 “Healthy” Foods Pregnant Women Should Avoid

by Jane Wangersky | March 17th, 2014 | Pregnancy

saladAlthough the recent case of a pregnant woman who unknowingly ate meat tainted with LSD made headlines, we can be sure most of the time that the food we buy is safe. However, pregnant women have to be especially careful. During pregnancy the immune system weakens a little to keep the mother’s body from rejecting the baby; this also makes the mother a little more vulnerable to some sicknesses. Foodborne illness is one of them. Some foods that seem to be healthy — and/or would be fine outside of pregnancy — can be dangerous for pregnant women and possibly their babies. The FDA lists the following three, among others.

What could be wrong with fresh-squeezed fruit juice? Well, harmful bacteria from the peel may find its way into the juice.  The pasteurizing process kills the bacteria, but it’s not required by law, and there are many unpasteurized juices for sale out there. They’ll be in a refrigerated section of the store and carry a warning on the label. However, juice sold by the glass, as in some juice bars, may also be unpasteurized — and it doesn’t have to be labeled. So ask about it — and, at home, carefully wash any fresh fruits you eat.

Fish is good for you, on the whole –  though nearly all fish contains some methylmercury, usually there’s not enough to do any harm. However, the longer a fish lives and the larger it gets, the more methylmercury builds up in its body, and a high level of it can damage a young or unborn child’s nervous system.The FDA recommends pregnant women, nursing mothers, and small children avoid eating swordfish, tilefish, King mackerel, and shark for this reason. By the way, some popular fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna (except for albacore), salmon, pollock, and catfish. Still, the FDA recommends no more than two fish meals a week for pregnant women.

Raw sprouts — alfalfa, bean, broccoli, whatever — are another “health” food that may contain bacteria. Working their way in through cracks in the shell, the bacteria are impossible to wash out once they’re in. The FDA  recommends you also avoid them during pregnancy. It’s simple enough not to buy raw sprouts, but remember also to watch out for them in food you order when out, especially salads and sandwiches.

For a few months, your lowered immunity will mean you need to protect yourself and your child from potentially harmful foods — even some “healthy” ones.

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