5 Foods Pregnant Women Should Avoid

Pregnant women should steer clear of certain foods to minimize the risk of pregnancy complications. Find out more in this article.

5 Foods Pregnant Women Should Avoid

A nutritionally balanced diet is crucial for maintaining health during pregnancy, as it directly impacts the development of the baby. Consuming nutritious foods rich in vitamins and minerals supports the baby’s growth. However, pregnant women may experience cravings for drinks at unusual times, which could potentially harm both the mother and the baby’s health. Dr. Aparna Jha, Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology at Apollo Cradle & Children’s Hospital, Brookefield, outlines specific food groups that expecting mothers should avoid.

Foods to steer clear of during pregnancy

Uncooked meat and poultry

Pregnant individuals face a higher risk of bacterial food poisoning, especially from consuming uncooked raw meat. Salmonella, a harmful bacterium, heightens this risk, along with toxoplasmosis, which can result in miscarriage or fetal death. It’s crucial for expectant mothers to opt for thoroughly cooked meat and chicken, preferably homemade, to minimize these risks.

Foods processed with and without pasteurization

Foods processed with and without pasteurization

Pregnant individuals are advised to steer clear of all dairy products made from unpasteurized milk, including soft aged goat cheese, goat milk, sheep milk, or cream. Unpasteurized or softly aged dairy products may harbor Listeria monocytogenes, a pathogen that can lead to listeriosis—a condition associated with miscarriage, stillbirth, and newborn illness. Similarly, soft cheese with a white coating on the outside tends to retain moisture, facilitating bacterial growth. Cooking the cheese until moist helps eliminate bacteria and lowers the risk of listeriosis.

Eggs that are raw or not fully cooked

Avoid consuming raw, undercooked, or soft-boiled eggs due to the presence of harmful salmonella bacteria, which can lead to food poisoning. Symptoms such as diarrhea, severe vomiting, headache, abdominal pain, and fever may occur. While these symptoms are unlikely to directly harm the baby, they can weaken the immune system and potentially impact the baby’s development. Opt for pasteurized egg products instead. Choose hard-boiled eggs or well-cooked omelets and salads as safer alternatives.

Fruits and vegetables that haven’t been washed

Unwashed fruits and vegetables can harbor toxoplasma parasites, posing risks to developing babies. Toxoplasmosis contaminates the soil where these foods grow, and unwashed produce can pick up harmful microbes. It’s essential to thoroughly rinse fruits and vegetables with boiled water to minimize these risks. Additionally, since bacteria can proliferate on their surfaces, consider peeling or scrubbing them and discarding any damaged parts. Cooking vegetables, especially leafy ones, thoroughly is also advisable.

Fruits and vegetables that haven't been washed

Foods known to trigger allergies

During pregnancy, it’s generally recommended for the mother’s diet to incorporate soy, wheat, milk, eggs, peanuts, various nuts like almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts, among others. However, individuals without allergies can also include fish and shellfish. Research suggests that consuming these foods early in pregnancy may lower the risk of the baby developing allergies and asthma later in life. However, not all studies support this claim, so it’s essential to consult with a doctor to determine what’s safe and what’s not, particularly concerning allergies.


Maintaining proper nutrition during pregnancy is crucial as it supports the health and development of both the mother and the baby. Educating mothers about which foods to include and which to avoid is essential for ensuring the baby’s proper growth and safety. Consuming raw or undercooked fish and shellfish, fish high in mercury, soft cheeses, unwashed fruits, and vegetables can potentially expose the baby to toxins and other harmful substances. Therefore, it’s important to follow a healthy diet and regularly consult with a doctor for guidance and support throughout pregnancy.