Pregnant women should eat a well-balanced diet to ensure their baby’s well-being. Not all foods are safe to consume during pregnancy. You or your unborn baby could be at risk because of illnesses from some foods, due to the way they’re prepared or the germs or chemicals they may contain. Hence, it is crucial to know what food can be incorporated into a diet and what should be avoided during pregnancy as few foods can cause miscarriage during early pregnancy. Several nutrients are found in chicken, including good amounts of protein and vitamins, and minerals. But how safe is chicken during pregnancy? Let’s find out.
Is It Safe To Eat Chicken During Pregnancy?
It is not uncommon for women to be craving chicken during pregnancy. Many pregnant women say they crave chicken salad during pregnancy. Being one of the most common and popular of meats, this should come as no surprise. As long as it is well cooked and served hot, it is perfectly safe to consume all kinds of poultry, including chicken during pregnancy’s first trimester to all the way through the third.
That being said, it is strongly advised that you avoid consuming them cold or processed, as it can lead to certain complications. Fried chicken during pregnancy is also known to cause health problems, especially when consumed excessively. In addition to this, broiler chicken during pregnancy is also not recommended, as they are usually injected with hormones.
Another commonly asked question is “Can we eat country chicken during pregnancy?” – Well, as long as it is freshly cooked, and not too spicy, it is perfectly safe to eat country chicken during pregnancy. However, when it comes to chicken salad during pregnancy, it is important to take care of several safety measures.
What Are The Benefits Of Eating Chicken During Pregnancy?
Though it is certainly not the healthiest food, or even the healthiest meat you can find, consuming chicken during pregnancy does have its benefits to your health. Some of these benefits are listed below:
1. Low-fat content
As a result of a rather turbulent diet during pregnancy, it is not uncommon for pregnant women to experience a little weight gain. However, if left unchecked, excessive weight gain can cause potential complications in the future, and consuming excessive amounts of fat certainly doesn’t help.
Chicken has relatively low-fat content1 and as such can help keep this under control. However, in order to minimize your fat intake, it is highly recommended that you avoid consuming the skin of the chicken.
2. Chicken during pregnancy helps with muscle building and development
As per a study, chicken is known to contain nine essential amino acids, which can be rather vital when it comes to building and strengthening the muscle. This can be highly beneficial to both you and your child.
3. Rich in protein
Protein rich foods during pregnancy are highly recommended in order to promote the growth and health of your baby. Chicken can help do just that. Do you know a skinless, cooked chicken breast (172 grams) contains 54 grams of protein2?
4. Chicken during pregnancy helps with brain function of the baby
Being a rich source of vitamin B3, folate, vitamin Choline, and so on, consuming chicken can quite tremendously promote your baby’s brain function and properly stimulate their memory functions as well. It also helps reduce the risk of neural tube defects in babies.
5. Helps improve blood flow
Chicken is a great source of iron as well as zinc, of which iron is absorbed rather easily by your body. This greatly helps streamline blood flow as well as develop new cells, thus promoting healthy growth as well as preventing the likelihood of a number of ailments.
6. It helps boost your energy and promotes metabolism
Being a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin E, Thiamine, and Selenium3 chicken has some excellent antioxidant properties, and can quite greatly promote your metabolism and boost your energy levels, making it downright essential during pregnancy.
Related Reading: 11 Simple Ways To Boost Immunity During Pregnancy
7. Chicken during pregnancy helps maintain cholesterol
Unchecked cholesterol levels can lead to a number of complications to one’s health, especially during pregnancy. Consuming chicken can help with this, as it can help keep cholesterol levels in check. This is because chicken is a great source of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids4 and has very low cholesterol content.
How Much Chicken Should A Pregnant Woman Eat In A Day?
There is really no single right answer to this question, as it often varies from one woman to another. It also depends on the rest of your pregnancy diet and a number of other factors. As such, it is recommended that you take a professional opinion regarding this; either from your doctor or dietician.
That being said, the generally agreed upon quantity is 100 gm or roughly two slices of chicken meat per day in order to meet a woman’s nutritional needs during pregnancy.
Related Reading: 21 Pregnancy Superfoods To Include In Your Pregnancy Diet
How To Cook Chicken When You Are Expecting?
While pregnant, steaming is the best way to consume chicken since it makes it easy to digest and healthy at the same time. Whatever cooking method is used, be sure to thoroughly cook the chicken. Use minimum chillies and remember which spices to eat and which spices to avoid during pregnancy.
If you are cooking Chinese chicken recipes, you should not use MSG or Ajinomoto. Deep-fried chicken is also not a healthy option. For pregnant women, chicken soup is a healthy option. In addition, it is easy to prepare. Adding vegetables and onions improves the nutritional value. When you are hungry during pregnancy, reach for some freshly made chicken soup.
Can I Eat KFC Fried Chicken During Pregnancy?
This shouldn’t come as too surprising. As stated above, consuming processed chicken like KFC chicken during pregnancy is highly warned against, especially when it is fried and greasy. Consuming such chicken can potentially lead to a number of problems like:
- Unhealthy weight gain
- Increasing blood cholesterol levels
- Improper digestion, and many more.
So, KFC chicken during pregnancy is a definite no-no. Okay, perhaps giving in to cravings once in a while is fine, but it is not the healthiest food to indulge in.
Related Reading: 8 Ways To Cope With Extreme Food Aversion During Pregnancy
Can I Eat Chicken Salad During Pregnancy?
The high protein content of chicken salad and the fact that salad is a healthy food choice make it an appealing choice for pregnant women. Irrespective of its nutritional value, it cannot be guaranteed to be completely safe. Pregnant women should know where and how it is prepared before eating chicken salad during pregnancy. The risk of food poisoning due to cross-contamination is very high when you eat chicken salad from bad food joints or restaurants. More than the salad, the way it it prepared and where it is prepared are the factors to consider.
The safety of chicken salad during pregnancy depends on the ingredients and preparation method. Salads that contain raw vegetables, undercooked chicken, and salad dressings that contain raw eggs or unpasteurized dairy are harmful to expectant mothers. However, a healthy and fresh chicken salad can easily be made at home if you wash the vegetables thoroughly, cook the chicken to an appropriate temperature, and make the salad dressing with safe ingredients.
Can I Eat Half-Baked/Half-Cooked Chicken?
This is definitely not advisable. Uncooked, or even half-cooked chicken can contain E. Coli, a bacterium that if consumed even a small amount of, can lead to a number of health issues for both you and your child. You may suffer from nausea, cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea, and so on. As this is clearly a major health hazard, be sure to properly cook your meat at least above 160 degrees Fahrenheit and maintain proper hygiene.
Can I Eat Tandoori Chicken During Pregnancy?
It’s one of the most craved foods by pregnant Indian women. But as mentioned earlier, restaurants usually tend to add too much tenderizer to it in order to make it more palatable, which can cause problems for your health. However, it should be fine if prepared at home or ordered from a trustworthy, reputed restaurant that prepares it healthily.
Related Reading: 7 Ways To Manage Loss Of Appetite During Early Pregnancy
Risks And Precautions When Eating Chicken During Pregnancy
Following are some risks and precautions associated with eating chicken during pregnancy:
Risks while eating chicken during pregnancy:
Infections caused by Listeria are the only risk associated with eating chicken during pregnancy.
Listeriosis is an infection caused by Listeria bacteria found in contaminated chicken. It is rare for pregnant women to contract Listeriosis. However, let us not overlook the fact that pregnant women are more susceptible to infections.
Related Reading: 9 Common Infections During Pregnancy You Should Be Aware Of
When pregnant women get listeria, they are at higher risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, infection of the new born and even death. According to studies, prenatal Listeriosis can cause stillbirth or neonatal death.
Precautions while eating chicken during pregnancy:
Before and after handling chicken, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water. While washing raw chicken, be sure to prevent chicken juices from spreading throughout the kitchen and contaminating other foods, utensils, and countertop surfaces. The sink and the associated utensils used to wash the chicken should be thoroughly cleaned after you wash the chicken.
Raw chicken should be cut on a separate cutting board. Make sure the chicken is well cooked. Traditional curries that use well-cooked chicken are safe during pregnancy. It is advisable to steer clear of deep-fried chicken items during pregnancy. If you have leftover chicken, put it in the refrigerator or freezer within two hours.
Pregnancy is all about maintaining a healthy body and transferring to the unborn child the nutrients from healthy foods. You may be tempted by a variety of foods during this phase owing to changing hormones and taste buds. However, as a responsible mother, you have to make a choice and consume only healthy and hygienic foods.
As mentioned above, it is perfectly safe to consume chicken, even during your first trimester. Just be sure to prepare it well, without making it too spicy. Also make sure it is fresh, prepared hygienically, and the skin is removed.
Avoid using tenderizers and undercooked chicken. It is best to consult your doctor on how you can incorporate them into your diet, and in what amounts to do so.
It is better to avoid the chicken’s skin while consuming it, as it usually contains only fat and offers no real nutritional value.
It is said that one must always remove the chicken skin completely while preparation in order to get the most benefits and minimize fat intake.
Yes, chicken feet are perfectly safe for pregnant women and can offer a number of health benefits including relief from joint pain, better skin health, more nutrients, and so on.
Just be a bit cautious as they can be a bit of a choking hazard if consumed improperly.
As long as it is fresh and cooked properly, and it is not too spicy, it should be perfectly safe to consume Biryani during pregnancy.
However, it is highly recommended that you avoid it in most restaurants, as they tend to add tenderizers to the chicken. These tenderizers can lead to unwanted problems, and can even react with medications that you might be taking.