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Sharp Health News

6 foods to avoid while pregnant

Aug. 15, 2016

6 foods to avoid while pregnant

While pregnant women should avoid raw fish, including sushi, Dr. Gelen Del Rosario says it's OK to eat cooked large tuna no more than two servings per week.

With pregnancy comes the excitement and joy of bringing a new baby into the world — along with the surprisingly long list of advice from your doctor. This includes everything from what prenatal vitamins to take and foods you should avoid.

According to Dr. Gelen Del Rosario, an OBGYN affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, there are six main things women should avoid consuming during their pregnancy.

DON’T eat/drink this
1. Sodas and sports drinks

“These drinks are full of sodium that may increase blood pressure,” says Dr. Del Rosario. Also, they are “high in calories and have no nutritional value.”

2. Raw or undercooked eggs
“Raw or undercooked eggs may increase the risk for salmonella and foodborne illnesses, which are not good for the baby’s health,” she says.

3. Unpasteurized juices, soft cheeses and deli meat
Put down that deli meat sandwich and soft cheese. “These items may cause listeriosis, which can be fatal during pregnancy,” warns Dr. Del Rosario.

4. Raw sprouts
It’s best to avoid eating raw sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, radish and mung bean sprouts, because of an increased risk for E. coli. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), bacteria can get into sprout seeds and are “nearly impossible” to remove by washing.

5. Fish that are high in mercury
Steer clear of fish containing high levels of mercury, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and barracuda. Dr. Del Rosario suggests limiting consumption of large tuna to no more than two servings a week.

6. Caffeine
“Moderate intake of coffee and other caffeinated beverages — 2 to 3 cups per day — is not linked to adverse effects on pregnancy,” says Dr. Del Rosario. “High intake — over 500 mg per day — is linked to an increased risk of spontaneous abortions in the first trimester.” Remember to include any food items that contain hidden caffeine, such as chocolate and ice cream, in your total daily consumption.

DO eat this
During pregnancy, it is important to have a healthy weight gain for optimal growth of the baby — with most weight gained in the last three months. In order to maintain that weight, she suggests including these four staples in your diet for the best development of the fetus:

1. Omega-3-rich foods
Omega-3-rich foods include cooked fish, fish oil, canola oil and flaxseed. “These essential nutrients are needed for cognitive and visual development of the fetus,” says Dr. Del Rosario.

2. Whole grains
Dr. Del Rosario recommends keeping carbohydrates in your diet — such as bread, cereals, pasta and brown rice — as they are a main energy source. They also promote weight gain of the fetus, as well as development of the placenta and maternal tissues.

3. Fruits and vegetables
Properly washed fresh fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals necessary for fetal development. They aid in the formulation of connective tissues, help with vascular functioning and enhance iron absorption. Choose green leafy vegetables, bell peppers, eggplant, squash and mushrooms, and fruits such as pears, apples, peaches, nectarines and melons.

4. Lean, pasteurized protein from animals and plants
“Lean proteins such as red meat, poultry, fish, pork, tofu, nuts, seeds, lentils and beans are good for growth and maintenance of tissues, as well as overall metabolism,” says Dr. Del Rosario.

Make sure you strike a healthy balance in your diet by taking vitamins for deficiencies (if your doctor recommends this). Also, regularly meet with your doctor to make sure you are gaining the appropriate amount of weight. This can help keep you healthy and provide the best possible start for your baby.

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