Pregnancy is the one time you can eat more, yet it seems like every option is off-limits. During this period, it is advisable to avoid certain foods that can harm the baby, e.g., raw or undercooked meat. Don’t worry if you are craving red meat during pregnancy. If you cannot part with your favorite steak, sushi, or coffee, you can limit intake or opt for safer meals.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Red Meat?
Yes. Red meat is an excellent source of protein, iron, and zinc, all of which are essential during pregnancy. While eating red meat in pregnancy has several benefits, eating too much can do more harm than good (1). If you cannot forgo red meat, it may be wise to cut back on portion and frequency.
How Much Red Meat Should Pregnant Women Eat?
You need to know just how much red meat during pregnancy is advisable. The recommended daily serving of protein during pregnancy is about 71 grams. While creating your healthy meal plan, you can fit red meat into the diet as it offers essential proteins. You may want to aim at two 3oz servings in a week, and get the rest of your protein from other sources (2).
Why Limit Red Meat During Pregnancy?
Several studies highlight why red meat is not ideal, not just for pregnant women but for the general population. While it is tasty and hosts these benefits, it is vital to be vigilant when cooking red meat. Pregnant women with a preference for meat should ensure that the meat is thoroughly cooked with no pink/blood traces. Read on to find out why you should eat less meat during pregnancy.
Risk Of Toxoplasmosis
There is the risk of getting toxoplasmosis if you consume raw or undercooked red meat. Although the infection is pretty mild to the mother, it could threaten your baby’s health, possibly causing miscarriage(5). Thankfully, if you have red meat pregnancy cravings, you don’t have to cut out red meat in your diet. Just be sure to cook meat properly and observe hygiene.
Increased Chances Of Developing Gestational Diabetes
A study revealed that higher red meat intake in women before they become pregnant poses a higher risk of gestational diabetes than less. Findings show that taking vegetable proteins as a substitute for animal proteins reduces the risk of gestational diabetes by half (4). Remember, the goal is to eat less red meat during and before pregnancy.
Red Meat Increases The Risks Of Mortality
A Harvard School of Public Health study found that increased red meat consumption was associated with increased mortality risk. Findings show that increasing by half a serving of unprocessed meat in the daily diet raised the mortality rate by 9%. Similarly, by adding half a serving of processed meat such as ham, sausages, and hot dogs, the risk went up by 13% (1). This is a valid reason to consume red meat in moderation.
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Which Other Foods Should Pregnant Women Avoid?
Among the first things a woman learns when expecting is what they cannot eat. Some foods have the potential of harbouring bacteria and other harmful agents. If you are a big fan of red meat, sushi, coffee, you may want to hold back or limit intake until the baby is here. Here is a list of what not to eat when pregnant.
- Drinks and foods with caffeine. Even when you couldn’t go a day without coffee, it’s time to switch to decaf ones. You should try and keep the caffeine level below 200 mg a day.
- Unpasteurized dairy products such as Feta, brie, and panela may contain listeriosis which can cause food poisoning. According to the CDC, pregnant women are more susceptible to listeria infections than the general population (3)
- Fish with high mercury levels such as tilefish, king mackerel, swordfish, and shark.
- Raw or lightly cooked eggs.
Pregnancy and red meat do not go well together. To ensure the unborn baby’s safety, pregnant women should not exceed the recommended red meat consumption quantity. While red meat offers vital proteins, substituting it with plant proteins, fish, and lean poultry providing the same nutrition benefits is a great option. There is no better time than expectancy to start consuming nutritious meals to help you and your baby.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Association of changes in red meat consumption with total and cause specific mortality among US women and men: two prospective cohort studies (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Daily Protein Requirements: Are You Getting Enough? (2020, webmd)
- People at Risk – Pregnant Women and Newborns | Listeria (2016, CDC)
- Prepregnancy Dietary Protein Intake, Major Dietary Protein Sources, and the Risk of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Toxoplasmosis – General Information – Pregnant Women – CDC (2020, CDC)