Eating a balanced diet is essential while you are pregnant. You are not just eating for yourself, but for the little one growing inside you. So it is important that you know what types of food to focus on, and which ones to avoid. For instance, can you eat pork while pregnant?
While you get more allowance because you’re eating for two, it is still best to monitor and ensure healthy weight gain. This is so you can avoid pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, and ensure your baby’s development and growth.
And while there are clear-cut food and beverages to avoid like alcohol, there are still gray areas that need to be covered in terms of what a pregnant woman can eat and include in her diet.
This article will focus on pork, which is generally regarded as the less healthy type of meat. So if you’re wondering when it’s safe to eat pork during pregnancy–if in the first trimester or last–you’ve come to the right place.
Can you eat pork while pregnant? What’s safe
Image from Shutterstock
It is safe to eat pork while pregnant, provided that it is cooked thoroughly. It must have an internal temperature of 75℃ or 165℉. This means you should avoid eating pork that is undercooked, still has a pink hue or has any trace of blood.
It is a good time to invest in a food-grade thermometer, especially if you cook your own food at home. Meanwhile, when dining out, make sure you tell the server that you want your pork cooked “well done.”
Food-related illnesses when eating pork while pregnant
When you’re pregnant, you have a weaker immune system and have a greater risk of getting sick from bacteria from the environment, and even the food you eat.
Raw and undercooked pork have higher chances of containing bacteria that can cause illnesses and may potentially harm your baby.
Common bacteria found in pork include listeria, salmonella, staph aureus, and e.coli. Out of all these, listeria is a cause for concern as this can severely harm the fetus.
You also have a risk of getting toxoplasmosis if you eat raw and undercooked meat like pork. It can lead to serious complications when it spreads to your baby, and even cause miscarriage.
You must also be careful of catching trichinosis, an infection with symptoms like headache, eye swelling, stomach pain, muscle aches, and chills. You can get trichinosis when you eat pork contaminated with trichinella worm larvae.
That is why it is important to always make sure you eat pork that is well-cooked and when possible, freshly prepared.
Benefits of eating pork during pregnancy
The benefits of eating pork during pregnancy include high amounts of protein and Vitamin B12. | Image from Shutterstock
As long as you are eating well-cooked pork while pregnant, there is nothing to worry about. In fact, there are many health benefits to including pork in your diet. You can even eat pork during early pregnancy, in the first trimester.
Meat, including pork, is an excellent source of protein. Aside from that, pork also has a lot of vitamins and minerals including:
- Vitamin B6 – essential in forming red blood cells
- Vitamin B12 – is important in brain function and blood formation. A deficiency can cause neuron damage and anemia. This vitamin is important in the first trimester, as your baby is experiencing rapid growth.
- Iron – needed for red blood cell production and preventing anemia
- Zinc – for a healthy brain and immune system
- Selenium – essential mineral, a powerful antioxidant
- Vitamin B3 or Niacin – for growth and metabolism
- Phosphorus – for body maintenance and growth
Moreover, pork also contains collagen, gelatin, and glycine. These also have health benefits.
Research has shown that collagen and its cousin gelatin help in reducing joint pains, which are common in pregnancy.
Meanwhile, amino acid glycine is essential during the late stages of pregnancy. Consuming enough glycine helps in making enough proteins, which is important in the baby’s health and growth in your womb.
Types of pork to eat and avoid while pregnant
As mentioned above, you may eat pork as long as it is well-cooked, and it is best eaten while still hot. This includes cured meats like ham, pepperoni, prosciutto, and chorizo. If you enjoy eating them cold and uncooked, best to avoid them while pregnant.
Do not eat raw meat, and avoid all kinds of paté. The same goes for the liver and all kinds of liver products. When it comes to pre-prepared sandwiches that are store-bought, err on the side of caution and skip these while you are pregnant.
Raw and undercooked meat may cause toxoplasmosis. Moreover, cured meats that are uncooked may contain parasites that cause toxoplasmosis. Meanwhile, liver and liver products have a lot of Vitamin A, which in large doses may cause harm to your baby.
When eating leftovers stored in the refrigerator, make sure pork is heated to 75℃ or 165℉.
Ensuring pork is cooked at the right temperature, and eaten “steaming hot” is essential for your and your baby’s safety. This is more so when eating pork during early pregnancy, or in the first trimester. The reason for this is to avoid bacterial infection, which can be harmful to an unborn baby.
Remember this when craving pork dumplings, bacon, and sausages. Meanwhile, because pulled pork is cooked slowly for a long time and in low temperatures, it is safe to eat provided you consume it while steaming hot.
Pork rinds or chicharon on the other hand, because it is cooked at high temperatures, are safe to eat. Frying them in hot oil kills possible bacteria present. They also have low water content, preventing bacteria growth.
If you want to eat pork belly while pregnant, it is best to consult your doctor and know your health condition. Pork belly and other cuts of pork contain a lot of fat and have a high number of calories. If your doctor cautioned you about this, choose leaner cuts of pork like rib chop or loin.
You can eat pork while pregnant. What food should you avoid?
Now that we’ve established how to eat pork safely while pregnant, here are some foods that you should stay away from while you are expecting.
- Raw meat like beef, chicken, and other types of poultry
- Raw seafood
- Cold chicken or turkey found in salad bars or pre-packaged sandwiches
- Store-bought sushi
- Soft and semi-soft types of cheese like feta, brie, camembert, and ricotta
- Raw eggs in food such as in homemade mayonnaise, aioli, pancake batter, cookie dough, chocolate mousse, or cake batter
- Pre-prepared salad (make them at home, washing ingredients thoroughly)
- Raw bean sprouts including Alfalfa, radish, broccoli, onion, clover, sunflower, soybean, and mungbean
- Raw and unpasteurized dairy including milk, yogurt, and cream
The main reason for avoiding these food items is their high risk of containing illness-causing bacteria like listeria, salmonella, and e.coli.
Food to eat while pregnant
Aside from eating pork while pregnant, what else should you load up on?
- Foods rich in folic acids like green leafy vegetables, fortified cereals, bread, pasta, and citrus fruits
- Calcium-rich foods like pasteurized milk and yogurt, hard cheese, sardines, salmon, and green leafy vegetables
- Foods rich in iron including meat, fish, poultry, dried beans, peas, and iron-fortified cereals
- Protein-rich foods like pork, beef, chicken, fish, eggs, dried beans, peas, nuts, and tofu
Eating healthy and nutritious food should be a part of your pregnancy journey. This is not only for you but for the baby growing inside of you.
Here at theAsianparent Philippines, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advise or medical treatment. theAsianparent Philippines is not responsible to those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend to consult your doctor for clearer information.