The top foods to avoid during pregnancy

January 25, 2012 12:00 AM by

If you're an expectant mom, you likely know two of the main things to avoid while pregnant – cigarettes and alcohol. However, in addition to these substances, there are numerous other foods to avoid that could pose a risk to your baby, as well as foods that you should eat sparingly.

Mercury
This potentially toxic compound can be found in certain varieties of seafood, including swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, and can cause developmental damage in a growing fetus. Canned tuna generally has less mercury than other versions of this fish, but it should only be eaten in moderation (the FDA suggests no more than 12 ounces a week). Some seafood that is actually beneficial includes fully cooked tilapia, shrimp, crab and salmon.

Raw and undercooked food
As much as you may love sushi or medium-rare beef, you should avoid these delicacies while you're pregnant. Be even more cautious of raw shellfish like oysters and clams. If you're baking and are tempted to eat raw cookie dough or cake batter, wait to have a taste until after they're cooked. Raw sprouts, such as radish, clover and alfalfa, may have Listeria, so cook those thoroughly too.

Unpasteurized food
Many soft cheeses contain unpasteurized milk, including Brie, feta, blue cheese, Camembert and Mexican-style cheeses like queso blanco. Avoid unpasteurized eggs and juice as well. However, low-fat dairy offers many health benefits, so try to work skim milk, cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese into your diet.

Food to be careful with
When eating fruits and vegetables, always wash them thoroughly to remove any harmful bacteria. Limit your caffeine intake as well because high levels could speed up your baby's heart rate. Try not to drink more than 16 ounces of coffee a day. Hot dogs and deli meats must be cooked before you eat them, even if the package says otherwise, in order to kill off any lingering bacteria. 

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