Pregnancy is a journey with many changes. From morning sickness to rapid changes in body structure, pregnant women adapt to a different set of routines that they aren’t normally used to. One of the main changes is diet: Exactly what’s safe and beneficial to eat, and what isn’t? Are all fruits safe to eat, and if not, why? Here, we discuss three fruits to avoid during pregnancy first trimester. But first…
Why is the first trimester of pregnancy so important?
A woman’s pregnancy is divided into three parts, or trimesters. The first trimester is regarded as the first three months of your pregnancy.
The first trimester is important because even though your bump is barely showing, your baby is physically growing inside you. By the end of the first trimester, most of your tiny foetus’s organs have formed already.
Since the foetus is still developing, it is also defenceless as it still doesn’t have its own immune system. All of its growing organs can be injured by a variety of things, such as drugs, infections, radiation, tobacco and toxic chemicals.
Knowing all this, one way of keeping you and your foetus healthy is to refrain from alcohol, caffeine, smoking or drugs. Healthy foetal development also goes hand in hand with good lifestyle habits, such as exercising regularly, drinking adequate amounts of water and eating the right things.
When it comes to food that is not safe to eat during pregnancy, we know of the usual suspects: soft cheese, sushi, soft-serve ice-cream – anything that can result in food poisoning. However, did you know that there are some fruits too that you should avoid, especially in the first trimester?
3 Fruits to Avoid During Pregnancy First Trimester
There are mixed opinions about grapes when it comes to fruits to avoid during pregnancy first trimester.
Some experts advise that’s it safe to eat while some say it should be avoided. While grapes do have high levels of vitamin A and C (which are important nutrients for pregnant mums), there are a few reasons why you might want to steer clear from grapes in your first trimester:
- Resveratrol toxicity. The outer skin of grapes is rich in a compound called resveratrol. Although scientific research identifies resveratrol as a healthy nutrient, it could be toxic to pregnant women. This is because resveratrol can react with disproportionate hormone levels a pregnant woman might have. A study also found out that pregnant monkeys fed with resveratrol supplements led to surprising results. Although more blood was directed from the pregnant monkey’s placenta to the foetus, the baby’s pancreas developed irregularly. The pancreas is important for controlling glucose levels in the blood, meaning that the babies were likelier to suffer from diabetes later on.
- Pesticides that remain on the skin. Grapes are often sprayed with pesticides which aren’t easily washed away. These pesticides may contribute to health complications in the foetus.
- Grapes may cause constipation as its skin is difficult to digest.
- Heatiness which can affect both the mum and the baby.
If you are concerned about eating grapes while you are pregnant, please consult your doctor or gynaecologist for further advice.
2. Unripe and Semi-Ripe Papaya Fruit
Papayas are known for their sweet, juicy, orange flesh and as a natural remedy for indigestion. It is common in tropical countries and comes in a variety of types and sizes. However, the unripe and semi-ripe forms of this fruit aren’t particularly good for pregnant women for the following reasons:
- They are abundant in latex, which promotes early uterine contraction. This may result in a miscarriage.
- They contain large amounts of papain. One of papain’s side effects is that it can trigger early labour. The reason behind this is that papain looks very similar to another molecule that performs this role, which your body mistakes papain for.
- Latex is a common allergen. Common allergic symptoms include a runny nose, swelling in the mouth area and skin rashes. However, sometimes allergic reactions can cause breathing difficulties and anaphylaxis. In such cases, medical attention should be sought immediately.
Do avoid food or dishes that contain unripe or semi-ripe papaya (which have completely green skin), such as green papaya salads or papaya smoothies containing papaya seeds.
While the unripe versions are best not eaten during pregnancy, ripe papayas, on the other hand, are completely safe.
In fact, ripe papayas (with fully yellow skin) contain many nutrients that are important for a healthy pregnancy, such as:
- and vitamins A, B and C.
Who doesn’t like pineapple? It’s sweet, bright yellow and is tasty whether eaten ripe or used in dishes (like pineapple fried rice).
Sadly, this tropical fruit isn’t suitable for pregnant women. Pineapple is known to contain bromelain, an enzyme which breaks down protein. One of its side effects is that bromelain may soften the cervix, which could lead to early labour.
Studies also show that bromelain tablets are so potent in breaking down protein that they even can cause irregular bleeding!
However, do note that you need to eat massive amounts of pineapple (between seven to ten fresh ones at one go) to actually induce this effect. This means that while concentrated bromelain pills should be avoided, eating a few slices of pineapple while pregnant is okay.
Do note that eating too much pineapple can cause issues due to its acidic nature, such as acid reflux, heartburn, and even diarrhoea (which leads to dehydration).
Also, if you haven’t eaten pineapple for some time, it’s possible that doing so will cause an allergic reaction. If you have symptoms like nasal congestion, itchy or swollen areas in your mouth or asthma after consuming pineapples, do book an appointment with your local doctor and discuss this.
More Tips About Eating Fruit when Pregnant
Clearly, unwashed fruits aren’t fit for consumption whether you are pregnant or not. However, they are especially risky for pregnant women.
The soil particles on fruits and vegetables can harbour bacteria such as toxoplasma, which makes infection possible for both the mother and baby.
Always wash your fruits and vegetables, ensuring that they are completely free of soil particles before eating them.
Why should pregnant women eat fruits as part of their diet?
Fruits are an essential part of a pregnant woman’s diet. Not only do they have nutrients that support your baby’s growth, but they also provide minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and fibre.
Furthermore, their rich nutrient content is counterbalanced by low calorie content, making it the ideal food for pregnant women! In addition, the following benefits have been linked to fruit consumption:
- Preventing cell damage. Fruits have antioxidants, which help to reduce any fetal cell injuries from damaging substances in the environment.
- Reduced infancy wheezing, which is associated with higher consumption of apples.
- Lower likelihood of childhood eczema, which is linked to eating citrus fruits during pregnancy.
What fruits are completely safe to eat during pregnancy?
Apples contain a variety of beneficial nutrients, like fibre, vitamins A & C, and potassium. In addition, previous research also highlights another added bonus: Most children born from mums who ate apples while pregnant did not develop childhood asthma or allergies.
In addition to preventing childhood eczema, oranges also have:
- High water content, helping you stave off dehydration;
- Folate, a key vitamin that stops irregular development of the brain and spinal cord;
- Vitamin C, which not only has antioxidant properties, but also aids iron absorption.
Bananas contain high levels of potassium, vitamin B-6, vitamin C and fibre. Fibre in bananas can help prevent constipation, whereas vitamin B6 can mitigate nausea and vomiting from morning sickness.
Avocados are the nutrient powerhouses of all fruits, containing a diverse array of nutrients such as:
- Vitamins B, C and K
- Folate – avocados have much higher levels compared to your average fruit.
In particular, eating avocados can reduce the instances of:
- leg cramps from low potassium and magnesium levels
- nausea, perhaps due to its high magnesium and choline content
- abnormal brain and nerve development in your baby via supplying ample amounts of choline
These yummy fruits are also nutrient-dense superfoods which provide a lot of beneficial compounds, such as:
- vitamin C
To maintain healthy levels of energy during the day, pregnant women should consume 50 to 60% of their calories from carbohydrates. Berries pack a lot more nutrients than other “empty calories” from refined grains. Do consider limiting refined carbohydrates and eating more nutrient-rich sources of carbohydrates like berries, instead.
We hope this information on fruits to avoid during pregnancy first trimester has been useful to you, and helps you ensure a safe and smooth pregnancy!