Pregnancy Nutrition: Foods to Avoid When You're Expecting

Some foods just aren't considered safe for pregnant women to eat. Do you know which ones?

Pregnancy is a great excuse to eat all kinds of special treats (hello, cravings!), but there are some foods you should steer clear of -- no matter how badly you want them. Knowing which foods to avoid when you're pregnant will help keep you and your baby healthy and strong. Here's what to skip:

Foods that are unpasteurized
While dairy products are an important part of your pregnancy diet, you should avoid any foods that contain unpasteurized milk. The reason: They can lead to a variety of food-borne illnesses. Some juices and many soft cheeses may be unpasteurized, including:

• Brie
• Feta
• Blue cheese
• Mexican-style cheeses (panela, quasi fresco and queso blanco)

You can eat soft cheese that are marked as pasteurized.

Foods that are undercooked
You're more at risk for bacterial illnesses like food poisoning and listeriosis when you're pregnant. Severe food poisoning could harm your baby, and listeriosis may result in miscarriage, premature delivery or even stillbirth, according to the March of Dimes. To prevent food poisoning and listeriosis avoid:

• Pre-stuffed raw poultry
• Refrigerated pates and meat spreads
• Processed deli meats and hot dogs, unless you cook them until they are hot and steaming
• Foods with raw egg, such as raw batters, Caesar salad dressing, hollandaise sauce and eggnog

Be sure to cook your eggs until the whites and yolk are firm, and consider buying pasteurized eggs.

Certain Types of Seafood
You may already know that some fish can contain dangerous levels of mercury -- which could potentially damage your baby's developing nervous system -- but do you know which ones? Larger fish are more likely to contain high levels of mercury, so pregnant women are advised not to eat:

• King mackerel
• Swordfish
• Shark
• Tilefish

The Mayo Clinic also advises that during pregnancy you should limit your consumption of tuna to albacore, chunk white and tuna steak and eat no more than 6 ounces of it a week.

In addition, avoid seafood that's raw or undercooked, including smoked seafood like lox. Keep a close eye on local fish advisories if you're eating fish from your local waters, or limit the amount of local fish you eat to 6 ounces a week.

Raw sprouts may seem healthy, but they can contain harmful bacteria. Avoid eating:

• Alfalfa sprouts
• Clover spouts
• Radish sprouts
• Mung beans

Also be sure to thoroughly wash any fresh fruits and vegetables that you consume.

Recent studies show it may be possible that too much Vitamin A during pregnancy could increase the risk of birth defects, according to the March of Dimes. Liver contains high levels of Vitamin A, so pregnant woman are advised to avoid eating it regularly. (And if you don't already eat it, now's not the time to start!)

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