Can pregnant women eat cheese?

Can pregnant women eat cheese? This is a question that many expectant mothers are concerned about. Cheese is a source of calcium and abundant protein for pregnant women. However, raw cheese is among the list of foods that pregnant women should avoid. Let’s explore the answer with The Pregnancy Care in this article.

Can pregnant women eat cheese?

Pregnant women can eat cheese, including both hard and soft varieties, as long as these cheeses are pasteurized. Pasteurization means the milk used to make cheese is heated to a certain temperature to eliminate bacteria produced during the cheese-making process.

If cheese is not made from pasteurized milk, it can increase the risk of contracting Listeria bacteria (full name: Listeria monocytogenes). Particularly, certain groups such as pregnant women, the elderly, and children are more susceptible to food poisoning caused by this strain of bacteria. Although the likelihood of infection isn’t very high, the mortality rate can be as high as 20-30% in severe cases.

During the initial stages of contracting Listeria, pregnant women may not exhibit symptoms or may have vague symptoms that could be mistaken for other common flu-like symptoms. However, if the bacteria enter the bloodstream, it can have severe consequences such as:

– Reducing blood flow to tissues, causing oxygen and nutrient deficiencies.

– Severe cases of blood infection may lead to clotting disorders, respiratory failure, and multi-organ failure in pregnant women.

– If it attacks the nervous system, Listeria bacteria can cause inflammation of the brain lining and even death.

Not only does Listeria affect the health of pregnant women, but mild or severe Listeria infections can also impact the fetus. Since the immune system of the baby is not fully developed during pregnancy, it can lead to premature birth, miscarriage, or stillbirth.

Therefore, to answer whether pregnant women can eat cheese, the answer is yes, but pregnant women must choose the right type of cheese to consume. Without caution, it could pose dangers to both the mother and the baby.

Can pregnant women eat cheese?
Can pregnant women eat cheese?

Types of Cheese Suitable for Pregnant Women

Pregnant women consuming cheese should opt for varieties made from pasteurized milk. Here are some key points to consider when choosing cheese during pregnancy:

Hard cheese has a firmer texture and lower moisture content compared to soft cheese. This helps reduce the risk of potential harmful bacteria even when it’s made from pasteurized milk. Eating hard cheese during pregnancy is generally safer than other types of cheese.
Most types of cheese, whether hard or soft, as long as they are pasteurized, are safe for pregnant women.

When purchasing cheese from markets or grocery stores, the origin and quality are often not guaranteed. Therefore, pregnant women consuming cheese should carefully inspect packaging to check for origin and quality.

Some varieties of soft cheese made from pasteurized milk suitable for pregnant women include:

– Cream cheese.

– Fresh cheese.

– Mozzarella cheese.

Certain varieties of hard cheese suitable for pregnant women include:

– Goat cheese.

– Blue cheese.

– Feta cheese.

– Camembert cheese.

– French soft cheese (brie).

– Ricotta cheese.

Additionally, expectant mothers can safely use any type of cheese that has been heated until hot. For example, melted cheese on pizza or in grilled cheese sandwiches.

What are the benefits of pregnant women eating cheese?

Consuming cheese properly during pregnancy can bring several beneficial effects, such as:

Calcium supplementation for stronger bones

Pregnant women are advised to supplement their diets with calcium, ranging from 700 – 1000mg/day. It not only promotes stronger bones and teeth but also reduces back pain and fatigue for expectant mothers. Importantly, during pregnancy, calcium from the mother is crucial for the fetus in the first three months, preventing the risk of deformities and congenital bone diseases.

Provision of protein

Protein is an essential nutrient for tissue and muscle development. Therefore, increasing intake of protein-rich foods like cheese provides several benefits:

Ensuring comprehensive fetal development: During the initial trimester, protein plays a vital role in the formation of fetal cells and organs.

Anti-inflammatory and anti-edema properties

Cheese contains zinc, selenium, vitamin B, and antioxidants essential for the body’s defense against inflammation and oxidative stress. These nutrients also help pregnant women limit swelling and discomfort during pregnancy.

Sustained satiety

100g of cheese contains nearly 30g of fat, providing high energy levels. This helps pregnant women maintain sufficient energy for daily activities without feeling excessively tired or experiencing frequent hunger.

Additionally, cheese contains ample amounts of protein, vitamins, and other essential nutrients, ensuring adequate nutrition without the need for excessive consumption. However, pregnant women should still focus on a diverse diet comprising various foods from vegetable groups, meats, fish, and carbohydrates.

Adding Cheese to a Pregnant Woman’s Diet

Although cheese is nutrient-rich and can be consumed during pregnancy, ensuring safe incorporation into the diet requires understanding the following principles:

– Limit cheese intake to a maximum of 30g per day.

– Avoid pairing cheese with high-protein foods, especially crab, lobster, and certain seafood types.

– Consume cheese during breakfast and lunch; avoid it during dinner to prevent digestion issues and sleep disturbances.

– Divide cheese consumption into multiple meals throughout the day rather than eating a large quantity at once.

Risks of consuming unpasteurized soft cheese during pregnancy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that pregnant women avoid consuming unpasteurized soft cheese due to the presence of Listeria bacteria, which can cause listeriosis.

Specifically, pregnant women consuming unpasteurized soft cheese face a tenfold increased risk of contracting listeriosis compared to others. Listeriosis can pose dangers to the fetus, leading to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, or even infant death.

In some cases, even pasteurized cheese can harbor Listeria if produced in facilities lacking proper hygiene standards. Therefore, pregnant women should be extremely cautious, opting for cheese varieties that ensure clear origins and quality.

Both pasteurized hard and soft cheeses are generally safe for pregnant women when consumed. However, pregnant women should seek advice from their doctors. The Pregnancy Care hopes this article has helped expecting mothers find answers to the question, ‘Can pregnant women eat cheese?’

FAQs

What cheese can’t you eat while pregnant?

Certain cheeses pose a higher risk of carrying Listeria monocytogenes, a harmful bacteria that can cause listeriosis during pregnancy. Soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert, feta, blue cheese, and queso fresco should be avoided unless they are made from pasteurized milk. Also, unpasteurized or raw milk cheeses should be avoided due to the risk of bacterial contamination.

What is the rule for cheese during pregnancy?

The rule of thumb during pregnancy is to avoid soft, unpasteurized cheeses and those made from raw milk. Always opt for cheeses made from pasteurized milk to minimize the risk of bacterial infections such as listeriosis, which can be harmful to both the pregnant woman and the unborn baby.

Can I eat pizza while pregnant?

Eating pizza during pregnancy is generally safe if it is made with pasteurized cheese and other safe ingredients. Most commercially produced pizzas use pasteurized cheese, which significantly reduces the risk of bacterial contamination. However, it’s essential to ensure that the pizza is prepared hygienically and contains safe ingredients.

What are the disadvantages of eating cheese while pregnant?

The main risk associated with consuming certain cheeses during pregnancy is the potential exposure to Listeria monocytogenes, leading to listeriosis. This bacterial infection can result in severe illness for the pregnant woman and pose risks to the fetus, including miscarriage, premature birth, or serious health issues for the newborn. Therefore, it’s crucial to avoid unpasteurized or contaminated cheeses to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses during pregnancy.

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