23 foods to avoid during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a delicate period for women.

Expecting mothers need to be extra cautious about what they eat. They must eat a nutritious diet which supplies sufficient energy and nutrients to the baby in order to develop properly.

A healthy and well-balanced meal is important when you are pregnant. A balanced meal can be defined as which involves the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates, fats with fresh vegetables and fruits.

Most foods are safe to eat during pregnancy. But, then there are some which must be avoided completely!

Yes. It can harm your pregnancy.

Let us help you by explaining the bad consequences of these foods. Here are the 23 foods you need to avoid during pregnancy.

1. Fish containing high mercury

High level of mercury in fish can harm your baby directly.

Mercury is known to be a toxic element if taken in higher amount can harm your nervous system and immune system. It also creates serious developmental problems in babies.

High level of mercury is found in large fish, which are most commonly found in polluted seawater. High-mercury fish includes Swordfish, King Mackerel, Shark, Walleye, Marlin, Tilefish, and Tuna.

Raw Shellfish: A big concern for pregnant women as most of the seafood-borne illness caused by un-cooked shellfish.

Avoid high mercury fish completely during pregnancy.

Alternative :

It is also important to note that not all fish are high in mercury.

Low mercury fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are very healthy for pregnancy. Some of the low mercury fish are those which exist in clean and fresh water.

Shrimp, Salmon, and Tilapia are few of them. These low mercury fish can be eaten up 2 times per week.

what foods to avoid when pregnant

2. Smoked seafood

Avoid smoked and refrigerated seafood during pregnancy. It is contaminated with Listeria which may lead to listeriosis. Possible symptoms are diarrhoea and vomiting.

Refrigerated smoked seafood, like Mackerel, trout, whitefish, and tuna mostly identified as lox, kippered, nova style, jerky and smoked. It must be re-heated to 165°F.

Alternative :

Prefer canned and shelf table smoked seafood.

3. Uncooked and partially cooked meat, Raw meat, and Deli meat

what not to eat during pregnancy

Eating raw meat in any form is dangerous for an expecting mother.

Raw meat and poultry contain a high risk of Toxoplasma parasite. The consumption of raw meat may develop flu-like symptoms that come into action after some weeks. It has a potential to cause miscarriage.

Consumption of undercooked meat increases chances of bacterial infections such as E.coli, Listeria, and Salmonella. These infections can have a life-threatening impact on unborn babies such as stillbirth, mental retardation, and epilepsy.

You must avoid Deli meat. Deli meat is ready-to-eat meat prepared as sliced meats, hot dogs, lunch meat, cold cuts and sandwich meats. It contains listeria bacteria which can cause fetal death.

Listeria has the ability to enter the placenta in the mother’s womb. It can severely infect the baby.

Eat the meat. But, first, heat the meat till it starts steaming!

4. Raw eggs

foods to avoid while pregnant

Pregnant women must avoid raw eggs or any food which contains partially cooked eggs because they most likely contain Salmonella.

Salmonella is an infection which is usually experienced by expecting mothers.

Nausea, Stomach cramps, Severe Vomiting, and Diarrhea are some of the symptoms of Salmonella infection. The infection may lead to premature birth. If, in case there are any cramps in Uterus which is rare.

You must avoid following foods which contain raw eggs:

Caesar dressings, Scrambled eggs, Home-made ice cream or Custard, Mayonnaise, Tiramisu, Aioli sauce, Cake icing, Salad dressings and Hollandaise sauce.

So, now the question arises – Can we not eat eggs during pregnancy?

Yes, you can!

But, eat foods which are made of pasteurized eggs. Pregnant women must intake fully cooked or pasteurized eggs.

Most commercial products like ice cream, eggnog, and mousse contain pasteurized eggs which reduce salmonella risk.

5. Eggplant

foods you must exclude from diet during pregnancy

Eggplant or Brinjal, a very common vegetable in India.

Eggplant has a fundamental property of stimulating menses which helps in treating premenstrual disorder and amenorrhea due to which, it is a potential threat to pregnancy and can result in abortion.

So, the consumption of eggplant should be avoided during pregnancy.

6. Unpasteurized milk and Unpasteurized cheese

Unpasteurized milk and unpasteurized cheese contain harmful bacteria which includes Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter, and E.Coli.
These bacterial contaminations can lead to life-threatening consequences for the baby before birth.

Alternative :

Pregnant women must only take pasteurized milk and pasteurized cheese. High temperature during pasteurization kills these bacteria’s.

Non-dairy products like Soya milk and Oat milk are also safe and nutritious.

7. Sesame seeds

What not to eat when pregnant

Earlier Sesame seeds were used to stimulate the uterine muscle. Due to stimulation fertilized ovum comes out of the body.

Basically, it was used for causing abortion. It is better to not consume Sesame seeds during the initial months of pregnancy (3-4 months).

Alternative :

You can take Almond, Raisins, and Walnut in moderate amount.

8. Papaya

what pregnant women should not eat

Unripe papaya contains latex which can cause a contraction in the Uterus. The contraction in the Uterus will lead to abortion.

It also contains papain and pepsin which usually restricts fetal growth.

Therefore, it is advisable to completely avoid eating unripe papaya during pregnancy.

9. Ajinomoto during pregnancy

foods to avoid when pregnant

Ajinomoto is widely used as an ingredient in food. In Asia, it is used commonly in street food, specifically Chinese cuisines.

Eating Ajinomoto can harm the fetus during early pregnancy as it affects the development of the brain.

To keep your baby healthy, it is better to avoid Ajinomoto completely during pregnancy.

10. Pineapple

Pineapple in small proportion is safe for pregnancy. But, if eaten frequently during pregnancy it can raise the temperature of your body which can cause premature birth or abortion.

Pineapple is rich in a compound known as bromelain. Bromelain can cause softening of the cervix which can lead to unsuccessful labour.

It is advisable to avoid pineapple completely during pregnancy.

11. Tamarind

not to eat foods during pregnancy

Tamarind is a good source of Vitamin C. But, Vitamin C in excess can be harmful during pregnancy. It lowers the production of progesterone which can result in miscarriage.

So, as a caution, we must avoid tamarind intake frequently.

12. Grapes

Grapes have always been in controversy. Some people say they are totally safe, others tell us to avoid grapes completely during pregnancy.

Let us explore the facts!

Grapes contain a high amount of resveratrol which can cause toxicity during pregnancy.

The digestive system of pregnant women becomes more sensitive. The skin of black grapes becomes non-digestible for a weaker digestive system.

Acidity along with nausea and vomiting is a common problem for pregnant women eating grapes frequently.

It also increases body temperature.

13. Empty calorie foods during pregnancy

things not to eat when pregnant

High in fat, sugar & carrying least nutritional value, these foods can only increase weight and do not help in maintaining healthy body weight during pregnancy.

Some of the empty calorie foods are – Chips, Candy, Cookies, Biscuits, Cakes, and Pizza.

14. High Caffeine foods to avoid when pregnant

Caffeine in coffee or any other food like green tea, some energy drinks, chocolate, etc is not good to have during pregnancy.

Excessive intake of caffeine in any form may lead to severe health conditions, which also includes a low birth weight of the newborn.

In some extreme cases, it can cause miscarriage.

Keep a check!

A standard ready-made cup of coffee contains 95 milligrams of caffeine. Health practitioners also advise to not intake more than 190 milligrams of caffeine per day.

15. No alcohol

Too much Alcohol at the time of pregnancy is harmful to both mother and the baby.

Majority of doctors strictly advise expecting mothers to avoid consumption of alcohol. It directly affects the baby’s development.

Baby’s liver cannot process alcohol.

There is always a high risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome involves very severe health conditions like mental retardation and facial deformities. It directly hits the brain development of the baby.

In order to reduce the risk of any issues in the baby’s growth, a mother must eliminate alcohol from her diet during pregnancy.

16. Pate

foods not to eat when pregnant

Pate is a paste made of meat or vegetables. It can cause listeria infection during pregnancy. Avoid it completely.

17. Uncooked ready-prepared meals

When the food is uncooked or undercooked there is always a high risk of harmful pathogens and listeriosis.

Eat fully cooked food during pregnancy.

18. Soft cheese

foods you must not eat when you are expecting

If the cheese is not pasteurized, it must be containing listeria infection.

Regular intake of soft cheese during pregnancy is a potential threat to mother and her baby.

Some soft cheeses to be avoided are – Blue cheese, Gorgonzola, Brie, Camembert, Panela, Queso blanco, Queso fresco and Roquefort.

All pasteurized cheeses are very safe to consume.

19. Unwashed vegetables

Vegetables are safe. It is also a source of essential nutrients.

But, unwashed vegetables and fruits may carry Toxoplasma parasite which is unsafe for your baby’s growth.

Toxoplasmosis mostly present in the soil where these vegetables and fruits are grown.

It is better to eat thoroughly washed vegetables and fruits so that you do not ingest harmful microbes.

20. Raw sprouts

You must avoid raw sprouts including radish, clover, alfalfa, broccoli, Soya-bean, and Onion.

Seeds start sprouting in humid conditions which is the ideal situation for bacteria like Salmonella. It is very difficult to remove them by just washing.

That is the reason why pregnant women should not consume raw sprouts. However, cooked sprouts are absolutely safe to consume.

21. Limit process junk foods

avoid unhealthy foods during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time when your body grows rapidly. But that doesn’t mean you have to intake double calories for baby and yourself.

A good pregnancy diet must consist of whole foods & nutrients which can fulfil the needs of the baby and mother.

Process junk foods mainly consist of high sugar, fat, trans fat and are extremely low in nutrition.

Eating junk food during pregnancy increases the risk of developing various diseases like type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, and heart disease. This may lead to long-term health complications for your child.

22. Cabbage and Lettuce

Raw cabbage and lettuce carry micro-organisms which may lead to food-borne illness. It is more likely to contain listeria infection.

Due to the consistent use of pesticides and fungicides, cabbage and lettuce are having a higher risk of viruses and bacterial contamination.

Always eat thoroughly washed and well-cooked cabbage and lettuce during pregnancy.

Green veggies like cabbage and lettuce are an extremely good source of essential nutrients. They provide the required amount of nutrients to pregnant women without gaining much weight.

23. Not to eat Leftover food when pregnant

Food left at room temperature for more than 2 hours are likely to harbour bacteria.

During pregnancy, the mother’s immune system starts protecting her growing baby. Due to which her immunity takes a dip and risk of food poisoning because of eating leftover food increases.

Pregnant women must eat food within 2 hours of its preparation. Otherwise, they must reheat the food to at least 165°F before eating.

Food safety tips and facts during pregnancy

what not to eat while pregnant

Safe internal cooking temperatures for foods

145 °F
Fish, Beef, Pork, Veak, Lamb steaks, roasts and chops with a 3 minutes rest time.

160 °F
Egg Dishes, Ground beef, veal, and lamb.

165 °F
Whole ground, or pieces of chicken, turkey, and duck.


#1  Listeria monocytogenes – Pregnant women are 10 times more likely to get listeriosis.

#2  Toxoplasma gondii – More than50% of Toxoplasmosis infections are acquired from food.

#3  Foodborne illnesses can infect your baby even if you do not feel sick.

#4  Listeriosis can cause – Miscarriages, Premature labour, Low-birth Weight, Infant death.

#5  Toxoplasmosis can cause babies to develop – Hearing loss, Blindness, Intellectual disability, Brain or Eye problem later in life.

Always remember

Wash hands and surfaces often.

Keep poultry and raw meat separate from ready-to-eat foods.

Cook foods to the proper internal temperature.

Wash your chop boards and Knives before use.

Get left-overs to the fridge within 2 hours of cooking.


Be selective and watchful about what you eat during these 9 months. The food you eat will decide your baby’s health. We have almost covered all the foods to avoid during pregnancy.

When you eat while you are pregnant, you eat for two. The other one is very small. Therefore, you need to take care of the food.

It’s tough for pregnant women to control their cravings. But, that control will ensure good health of the baby for nine months and also in the longer run.

Eat Healthily! Stay Happy!

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