Smoothie Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy…Or Not

Pregnant woman drinking a smoothie

The following list of foods are often on the “avoid” list for pregnant women, but eating them won’t necessarily kill your baby or terminate your pregnancy. Instead, some of these foods come with precautions that you should look out for when you are carrying a child.

If you experience severe cramping, bleeding, or other signs of miscarriage after eating any food, see your doctor immediately. Keep in mind that most miscarriages or pregnancy complications have nothing to do with particular foods you may have eaten.

Papaya

Papaya is one of the top “fruits to avoid” for pregnant women…according to Internet rumors. It is said that eating the fruit may cause miscarriage. The truth, however, is that ripe papaya poses no known risk to a fetus.

Unripe, or semi-ripe papaya, on the other hand, MAY pose a risk since the papain in the fruit latex may trigger uterine contractions. Even so, papaya isn’t listed as a “food to avoid” on any of the top pregnancy websites backed by scientific organizations, including the American Pregnancy Association.

So in short, enjoy moderate amounts of ripe papaya and don’t worry about your growing baby.

Pineapple & Pineapple Juice

I was surprised to see pineapple on a list of fruits pregnant women should avoid. Fortunately, there is no science behind this. Fresh pineapple is perfectly safe for pregnant women.

However, some anecdotal evidence suggests that pregnant women should avoid drinking excessive amounts of pineapple juice, as the bromelain (an enzyme in pineapple), when taken in concentrated amounts, may pose a risk, though I don’t know of any scientific studies that have demonstrated this.

Grapes

I’ve read on a few obscure websites that grapes should be avoided during pregnancy. There is absolutely no science to support this, and while researching this, I encountered numerous women who ate grapes during pregnancy and gave birth to healthy babies.

The “grape danger” is just a rumor, and nothing more.

Parsley

Parsley contains an oil called apiole. Apiole is a kidney stimulant. Because this oil can also stimulate uterine contractions, pregnant women should avoid eating large quantities of parsley (although it is very difficult to eat large quantities of this herb).

A couple sprigs chopped into a salad is nothing to worry about, but maybe skip using parsley in green smoothies while pregnant.

Cacao

There’s some conflicting information about whether or not cacao or raw chocolate is safe for pregnant women. Chocolate is not on any of the “foods to avoid while pregnant” list on any scientifically-backed pregnancy website.

While it is best to limit caffeine intake while pregnant, raw cacao contains very little and not enough to cause concern.

As with anything, I do not recommend going nuts with raw cacao while pregnant, but using it on occasion should be fine, as there are no scientific studies expressing concern about this food.

Raw Sprouts

Pregnant women should avoid consuming raw sprouts including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean.

Sprouts, and the process of sprouting, are prone to contamination with bacteria. Since it is almost impossible to wash the bacteria off the sprouts, the FDA recommends that pregnant women cook sprouts before eating them.

Unpasteurized Fruit Juices

Unpasteurized juices have not been heated to remove potential bacterial contaminants. While it is virtually impossible to purchase unpasteurized juices in a grocery store, they are sometimes available at farmers markets or road-side stands.

It is generally safe to make your own fruit juices at home, provided that the fruits or vegetables used in making the juice have been washed thoroughly and not been contaminated.

On a side note, I don’t recommend drinking fruit juice anyway – pregnant or not. Juicing fruits releases the naturally occurring sugars from the fiber, completely negating the health benefits of the fruit. It’s better to blend it in green smoothies, or eat fruit as-is.

Herbal Teas and Supplements

The concern with consuming herbal teas during pregnancy is the lack of data available on most herbs and their effects on a developing fetus. Because of this, the American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women avoid consuming herbal teas.

The same goes for herbal supplements, as some herbs are known to cause birth defects or other complications in pregnant women when taken in medicinal amounts.

Raw Milk and Dairy Products

As with unpasteurized fruit juices, there is a risk of bacterial contamination from raw milk and dairy products. It is important to understand these risks and to know how your milk and dairy products were processed.

There are a few other food warnings for pregnant women such as potential contamination from deli meats and pates, and mercury content of seafood.

The risks associated with these foods are well explained on most pregnancy websites, and since they are not smoothie foods, I won’t go into the details in this article.

Green smoothies are an excellent food for pregnancy as they are rich in calcium, iron, folate, and other nutrients a developing baby needs. So don’t worry and drink a green smoothie for the health of your baby!
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