Should You Avoid Certain Fruits During Pregnancy? Here's What You Need to Know
There are some fruits that are best to avoid in pregnancy for very good reasons. Find out more.
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 and vegetables safe to eat? And if not, why?
Here, we discuss three fruits to avoid during pregnancy. 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. This 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' 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? Let's take a look at these.
Should You Avoid These Fruits During Pregnancy?
This one is a little iffy, but it's occasionally suggested that pregnant women stay away from grapes.
There are mixed opinions about grapes when it comes to fruits to avoid during pregnancy's first trimester. This is because grapes contain resveratrol, a poisonous substance that could result in poisoning or other complications during pregnancy. But when consumed in moderation, grapes, like pineapple, usually show to be a low-risk food.
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 of 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 that aren't easily washed away. These pesticides may contribute to health complications in the foetus.
- Constipation - Grapes may cause constipation as their skin is difficult to digest.
- Heatiness - Pregnant mums can easily feel hot or overheated, and this 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:
- Papayas are abundant in latex, which promotes early uterine contraction. This may result in a miscarriage.
- One of papain's side effects is that it can trigger early labour and papayas have large amounts of the same. 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. 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.
Furthermore, papaya skin and seeds, even when ripe, should not be consumed. To avoid these risks, many women decide to completely avoid papaya while they are pregnant.
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:
- potassium, and
- Vitamins A, B and C
Who doesn't like pineapple? It's sweet, bright yellow and tasty whether eaten ripe or used in dishes (like pineapple fried rice).
Sadly, this tropical fruit is deemed to be not recommended 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 the protein that they can even cause irregular bleeding! If consumed in large doses, bromelain can soften the cervix and trigger preterm labour.
Many medical professionals agree that pineapple is safe to eat in moderation and is packed with beneficial nutrients. However, it is advised to restrict pineapple consumption to the first trimester of pregnancy in order to be safe.
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.
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.
Though tamarind may come to mind right away when you have a tangy craving during pregnancy, this fruit actually has more negative effects than positive ones. Tamarind has long been used as a remedy for nausea and morning sickness.
But when it comes to eating tamarind, moderation is the key. Tamarinds are extremely high in vitamin C, which is one of the main reasons they are listed among the fruits to stay away from while pregnant.
Tamarind contains a lot of vitamin C, so eating too much of it can make your body produce less progesterone. A miscarriage, preterm birth, and even cell damage to the foetus can result from low progesterone levels. Therefore, watch your tamarind intake, especially during the first trimester.
The human body benefits from watermelon in general because it helps the body remove all toxins while maintaining proper hydration. However, consuming watermelon while pregnant could expose the unborn child to the various toxins the fruit removes.
Although this fruit typically benefits a pregnant woman's health, it can occasionally have unfavourable effects. The sugar content in it has the potential to increase blood sugar levels if consumed in excess. The diuretic effects of watermelons can occasionally even help your body remove toxins and essential nutrients.
Although dates are full of vitamins and other essential nutrients, pregnant women are frequently told to avoid eating them. The fact that dates raise body temperature and may even trigger uterine contractions is one of the main justifications for their inclusion on the list of fruits that should be avoided during pregnancy. So, while eating one or two dates per day should be okay, any more can result in problems.
7. Frozen Berries
Women who are expecting should stay away from frozen berries and other foods that have been freeze-dried or frozen for an extended period of time. Consuming fresh fruit is always preferable to choosing frozen berries.
Berries lose their original flavour and nutrients when they are frozen, and eating them can be toxic for both you and your unborn child. For this reason, fresh berries may be preferable to those that are frozen or canned.
8. Canned Tomatoes
It is always a good idea to stay away from all canned food items when you are expecting because they contain a lot of preservatives. Avoid eating canned tomatoes and other canned foods as these preservatives may be toxic to you and your unborn child and cause complications.
Why You Should Wash Your Fruits Before Eating Them
While green leafy vegetables need to be an important part of the diet of expecting mums, unwashed and unpeeled fruits and vegetables need to be completely avoided. As much as they are a strong source of vitamins and nutrients, unwashed fruits and vegetables can be contaminated with bacteria and parasites.
Some of these include Toxoplasma, E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria, which could be acquired from the soil or when handled from the farms to the store. This leaves room for uncertainty and is risky for the health of the mother and the newborn.
Toxoplasma, for instance, is particularly infectious. It rarely exhibits any symptoms while some may have the flu for a month. However, the parasite can infect the baby while still in the womb. The baby born will have no symptoms at birth but toxoplasma can cause blindness or even intellectual disabilities.
It’s important then that you stay cautious of the foods you consume to ensure you and your baby are at minimal risk throughout the pregnancy. Make it point at all times to wash the produce as soon as you bring it home. This is all the more important in the post-pandemic era when the concerns around hygiene and sanitisation are at their peak.
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 them 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.
The high fibre content of apples can help a woman's digestion and prevent haemorrhoids, which are a common problem for many pregnant women.
Lemons and oranges are two citrus fruits that are particularly rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is in charge of promoting healthy bone development in your child. Additionally, citrus can improve a woman's digestion and prevent morning sickness while she is pregnant.
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. The fibre in bananas can help prevent constipation, whereas vitamin B6 can mitigate nausea and vomiting from morning sickness. When a woman is pregnant, potassium can greatly aid in regulating her body's fluid and blood pressure as well as preventing leg cramps and pain.
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
This includes berries like raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and just about any other berry you can think of! Berries are a great source of antioxidants, which can protect both mother and foetus from serious diseases.
When eaten fresh (not frozen!), these yummy fruits are also nutrient-dense superfoods that provide a lot of beneficial compounds, such as:
- vitamin C
Pears are a fantastic source of fibre that can help avoid constipation since they have an edible peel that includes pectin, a digestive aid. In addition, they're a fantastic source of folate, iron, magnesium, and vitamin C.
Prunes are something you're familiar with and you're aware of the reputation that prunes have, right? Yes, that's right—moving your bowels. Try eating a plum a day if you're having major constipation problems; if they're hard to come by, choose dried prunes instead. Soon you ought to be back to normal.
The vitamins C and A in mangoes are great for boosting your baby's immunity. Although it is theoretically conceivable to consume too much vitamin A, this is exceedingly uncommon. You should be alright as long as you consume mangoes in moderation.
Although cherries only have a brief summer season, they make excellent pregnant foods. They support your child's brain growth in addition to being high in vitamin C and melatonin, which regulate sleep. Additionally, they are among the fruits with the lowest calorie counts, so you get a lot of nutritious value per calorie.
Other healthy fruits
There are many other healthy fruits besides those already mentioned that can provide the nutrients the baby needs while in the womb. They consist of:
Discuss with your doctor the best fruits to eat while pregnant as well as the suggested serving sizes.
More Tips About Eating Fruit When Pregnant
How Many Fruits Should a Pregnant Woman Eat
You can eat two to four servings of healthy fruit every day. A medium-sized piece of the whole fruit or a cup of cut fruit constitutes a serving of fruit.
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.
Can women drink fruit juice while pregnant?
For the simple reason that freshly squeezed juices cannot be pasteurised, pregnant women are strongly advised to avoid them. So make sure the fruit juice you consume has been pasteurised.
Drink prune juice if you're craving a glass of juice because it can ease constipation. Even vitamin C juice, which contains folic acid and can help your foetus develop normally while preventing conditions like spina bifida, might be worth a shot. However, it is generally advised that all expectant women stay away from fruit juices.
Now that you know which fruits are unsafe to eat while pregnant, stay away from them at all costs. It will initially be challenging for you to give up some of your favourite fruits and vegetables, but remember that doing so will help you carry your pregnancy to term and ensure both your health and that of your unborn child.
Always wash fruits and vegetables before consuming it
Clearly, unwashed fruits aren't fit for consumption whether you are pregnant or not. However, they are especially risky for pregnant women.
Fruit should ALWAYS be washed before eating. Any fruit may contain pesticide residue or harvest-related soil, both of which can be harmful to the mother and the foetus. Because of this, many mothers choose organic produce, but washing is still required.
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.
Limit fruit consumption
It is well known that many fruits contain a lot of sugar, which can be problematic for pregnant women at risk for gestational diabetes. It is advised to limit fruit consumption to a small serving size and to completely avoid fruit juices in order to maintain nutrient intake without consuming excessive amounts of sugar.
Ask your doctor for advice
If you have any concerns about your pregnancy diet, don't be afraid to ask your doctor for advice on the best ways to get the essential nutrients your unborn child needs to develop normally during your pregnancy. Always choose safety over regret!
Updates by Matt Doctor
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