Deli Meat and Pregnancy

Deli meats refer cooked meats, sliced and prepared for light dining options. Many people also refer to the same as lunchmeat, sandwich meat, sliced meat, or cold cuts. You can also classify deli meats as whole cuts or processed meats. Found in grocery stores, food chains, and local delis, deli meats are among the most popular food items today. While they are extremely common and popular, many people do not know the negative connection between deli meat and pregnancy.

Can You Eat Deli Meat During Pregnancy?

Unfortunately, deli meat is not safe during pregnancy. You should avoid meats such as turkey, ham, bologna, and salami unless you have heated it thoroughly because deli meat:

Increases Your Risk of Listeriosis

Eating these foods can cause listeriosis, a type of food poisoning that can be dangerous for you and your baby. Caused by Listeria monocytogenes, listeriosis can make you very sick during pregnancy and produce flu-like symptoms that may aggravate and turn into potentially life-threatening meningitis and blood infection.

It is even possible to pass the infection to your unborn baby, which may cause problems such as stillbirth, miscarriage, low birth weight, premature birth, and life-threatening infections such as meningitis and bacteremia.

Is High in Fat and Sodium

What's more, those pre-sliced cold cuts are very high in fat and sodium. Too much sodium and fat can cause obesity and other heart related issues, such as high cholesterol and hypertension. Packaged lunchmeats contain sodium nitrate, which can cause complications during pregnancy. That is mainly because your body turns nitrogen in carcinogens.

Safe Ways to Avoid Listeriosis in Pregnancy

Heating deli meats thoroughly may help kill the bacteria. Even so, it is best to avoid the combination of deli meat and pregnancy. Here are some ways to avoid listeriosis in pregnancy:

  • Be sure to wash your hands properly with warm soapy water after handing food.
  • Be sure to reheat deli meat to at least 165 degrees before you chow it down. You will be better off going for tuna or grilled chicken instead.
  • Avoid deli meats when possible and try other substitutes such as cooked and shredded turkey or chicken, which are high in iron and protein and do not contain bacteria.

Other Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Now that you know the negative relationship between deli meat and pregnancy, you may also want to know what other foods are not safe to eat during pregnancy.

1.        Soft Cheese

You have to avoid cheeses like goat cheese, feta, Camembert, Brie, Mexican queso fresco, and blue cheese as well. These soft cheeses are often made with unpasteurized milk and are likely to contain listeria. The infection can lead to preterm delivery or even miscarriage.

Bottom line: Go for cooked cheese or be sure to look for the word "pasteurized" when buying cheese.

2.        High-Mercury Fish

Big, top-of-the-food chain types of fish are usually high in mercury, which is harmful for you and your baby. They can damage your developing baby's lungs, nervous system, vision, kidneys, and hearing. It is, therefore, a good idea to avoid fish like tilefish, shark, king mackerel, grouper, orange roughy, saltwater bass, tuna steaks, and canned solid white albacore tuna.

Bottom line: While you should take special care when eating fish, it does not mean you should quit eating seafood during pregnancy. You can always opt for herring, salmon, and sardines because they contain omega3 fatty acids, including DHA that are good for your health and improve fetal brain development. The best thing is to eat up to 12 ounces a week of haddock, shrimp, salmon, flounder, catfish, tilapia, sole, or scallops.

3.        Raw or Runny Eggs

Eating eggs that are cooked sunny side up may increase the risk of salmonella and some other food-borne illnesses. The same holds true when you opt for sources of uncooked eggs such as raw cookie dough or Caesar salad dressing. You need to understand that your immune system is naturally weak during pregnancy, so a seemingly harmless bug can lead to food poisoning and more.

Bottom line: Ensure the eggs are cooked through. Eggs contain choline that boosts fetal brain development and helps prevent birth defects.

4.        Raw Sprouts

You should avoid raw sprouts, including clover, alfalfa, and radish during pregnancy. Just like deli meat and pregnancy, raw sprouts are not good when you are pregnant. The reason is that it is easy for bacteria to get into the seeds, making it impossible for you to wash away the germs before eating them.

Bottom line: Be sure to avoid it at all cost and ensure that the sandwiches you buy at the deli do not contain raw sprouts.

5.        Fresh Pre-Stuffed Poultry

While a pre-stuffed turkey or even chicken serves as a quick-fix when you are pressed for time, it is something you should avoid when you are pregnant. The reason is that the raw poultry juice can mix with the stuffing and provide a great environment for bacteria to thrive. Cooking definitely helps, but you should not take any chances because your immune system is already weak during pregnancy.

Bottom line: Buy frozen pre-stuffed poultry, but ensure that you do not let it defrost and cook it directly while it's frozen.

6.        Fresh Juice

While fresh juice is healthy, you may want to avoid it especially when it comes to drinking fresh-squeezed juice in juice bars, restaurants, and farm stands. Since it may not be pasteurized, you may end up becoming infected with bacterial such as E. coli and salmonella.

Bottom line: You should only drink juice that is labeled "pasteurized" to stay safe.

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