It is safe to eat red meat during pregnancy as long as certain precautions are taken. It is a rich source of protein, that is essential for healthy growth of baby. Please consider the following when eating red meat during pregnancy:
Eating rare or raw meant during pregnancy
Raw or undercooked meat and fish, especially shellfish, can be contaminated by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites. E.coli, found in undercooked meat or fish can give you stomach cramps, fever, and diarrhea which causes dehydration. It can also cause a miscarriage or premature delivery.
Toxoplasma found primarily in undercooked meat can cause toxoplasmosis which is usually asymptomatic at birth but the child can develop blindness and intellectual disability later in life.
Salmonella can cause severe food poisoning (fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea). In some cases, the bacteria can get into your bloodstream and cause sepsis which can be fatal. In rare cases, it can also cause miscarriages. Rather, this is unpleasant news for sushi lovers and women who love to have their steak medium-rare! It is vital to properly cook meat and fish at high temperatures to avoid contracting any infection. Read about how should you be cooking your steak here.
Eating organ meat during pregnancy
Organ meat such as liver, heart, and more is a healthy option during pregnancy. It fulfills the mother’s iron, vitamin B12, Vitamin A, and copper needs. However, excess intake of organ meat, more specifically liver, can result in Vitamin A toxicity which can lead to brain and heart malformations. High levels of copper can also lead to liver damage.
According to doctors, the intake of liver meat should be restricted to once per week. Read more about vitamin A content of different organ meat here.
Eating luncheon meat during pregnancy
Since Luncheon meat is processed and packaged, it is exposed to a lot of preservatives. That is why, during its processing, the meat becomes receptive to a bacteria known as Listeria. Listeria causes an infection in pregnant women that can lead to miscarriage, premature delivery or stillbirth.
Moreover, the nutritional value of the meat is lowered because of its high fat, nitrate and sodium content. Additionally, salmonella bacteria may be present in this meat, which can cause diarrhea and food poisoning. To be on the safe side, we recommend that you look for alternative meat options, like grilled or cooked chicken.
In case you prefer to eat luncheon meat, reheat it to 165 degrees before consumption.
How much meat is ok?
Unprocessed red meat is known to increase risk of heart diseases in the long run and hence should be limited. A recent study looked at risk of red meat consumption in pregnant women and included pregnancies free of previous gestational diabetes (GDM) or other chronic diseases. The researchers found that women with the highest intake of animal protein had a much greater risk of developing GDM than those with the lowest intake.
It is recommended that substituting 5% of animal protein for plant based protein could cut the risk of gestational diabetes in half. The study also showed that the substitution of red meat with poultry, fish, nuts, or legumes lowered risk of GDM.
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