Pregnancy is a time of cravings. Most women have a different set of cravings, few like sweet, and others like salty. Many like the taste of red meat, while others develop an aversion to it. “Craving red meat during pregnancy” is quite normal. However, the choices should be healthy ones as it is good for the mother and the child. Everything that she eats affects the child.
Some food items can be hard to digest and lead to digestive issues, others could generate too much heat. Thus, it is important to keep a balance and have things in moderation. Red meat during pregnancy is also a meal that is heavy on the stomach so it is important to know if it can be eaten. What is “too much red meat during pregnancy”, its benefits and side effects, etc? Let us have a thorough knowledge of the different postulates.
What Is Red Meat?
Red meat is indicative by name is red. This is due to the presence of myoglobulin, which is a meat protein that holds oxygen in it. Though all red meats are not red, for example, pork is red meat, yet its color is pink. Red meat can comprise the following:
- Cuts from pigs
- Bison, elk, etc.
Processed red meat is kept for preservation by adding chemical additives, smoking, salting, etc. Processed red meat can be bacon, beef, sausages, luncheon meats, etc. Red meat refers to the meat that is taken from reared farm mammals like cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, deer and horses.
What Happens If You Eat Red Meat While Pregnant?
When red meat is consumed during pregnancy, it is very good for the pregnant woman as it has protein, zinc, and iron, which are all important during pregnancy. However, “undercooked red meat during pregnancy” can prove harmful for both the mother and the baby. It is thus best to follow a few precautions while cleaning and cooking it.
Few pointers to keep in mind while consuming red meat during pregnancy are1:
- Avoid liver and liver products as they are rich in Vitamin A and excess of this can harm the unborn child
- Undercooked meat or raw meat can result in toxoplasmosis.
- Pate of all kinds as they have listeria that could be harmful to the baby.
Related Reading: Chicken During Pregnancy: Benefits, Risks And Precautions
Benefits Of Eating Red Meat During Pregnancy
Red meat during pregnancy is a nutritious bet and comprises many important vitamins and minerals. Having red meat during pregnancy is quite beneficial for both the mother and the child provided it is taken in a moderate quantity.
Here are some common benefits of eating red meat during pregnancy:
1. Promotes muscle growth
Red meat has protein that helps to fix the body tissues as well as improve muscle formation. Zinc in protein present in red meat help in developing the strength of the muscles. It offers the right nutrients to the body2.
2. Red meat boosts immunity
Zinc is a good constituent of red meat, and it has antioxidative properties that help in the creation of antibodies to fight germs. Red meat has selenium, which is responsible for improving immunity during pregnancy. It even has vitamin A which helps in the smooth functioning of the reproductive system3.
3. It helps to enhance blood circulation
Red meat has iron that helps transport oxygen to all the different cells in the body. Iron deficiency during pregnancy can result in tiredness, weakness, etc. For better absorption of iron, the Vitamin C intake should be increased which could be by consumption of Orange, strawberries, etc4.
Related Reading: 11 Signs Of Weakness In Pregnancy
4. It helps in improving the digestive system
Red meat has amino acids that help with digestion. Vitamin D present in red meat helps in building strong bones, improving absorption of calcium, and carrying out other functions as well. Red meat is total meat and comprises all nine amino acids: tryptophan, lycine, threonine, leucine, valine, phenylalanine, isoleucine, histidine, and methionine5.
5. It is good for the proper functioning of the heart
Red meat has omega-3 fatty acids that help in the healthy functioning of the heart. It even rules out the potential threat of a heart attack. It even has Vitamin B like folic acid, biotin, niacin, etc that are good for forming red blood cells, hormones, etc. The vitamins also offer immense energy which is a requisite during pregnancy6.
6. Good for the brain
Red meat has EPA and DHA that help in brain growth and promote cognitive functioning as well. It even helps to improve the concentration level7.
Related Reading: Top 10 Protein-Rich Foods For Pregnancy
7. It helps in the development of the foetus
Omega-3 fatty acids present in red meat help in eye and brain development. Red meat consumption also helps suppress depression, which can be seen during pregnancy and postpartum as well. Omega 3 Fatty acids are also responsible for healthy hair and skin. Vitamin A in red meat even results in strong teeth and bones8.
Which Red Meat Is Best for Pregnancy?
The best meat to have during pregnancy is organ meat like hearts, livers, etc. This is a healthier option as it can fulfill the mother’s needs of Vitamin A, B12, and other dietary needs. One thing to remember, however, is that having an excess of organ meat at this time, more specifically the liver, can harm the heart and the brain. Excess intake of copper can damage the liver and that of Vitamin A can result in congenital malformations9.
Among the best meats are:
- You can eat precooked, pre-packaged meat in pregnancy, such as ham and corned beef
- If you cook beef, pork and lamp thoroughly to a steaming hot temperature without traces of pink or blood, you can eat it safely during pregnancy
Related Reading: Scientific Reasons To Not Eat Raw Eggs During Pregnancy
How Much Red Meat Can You Eat During Pregnancy?
Red meat, whether lamb, beef, or pork, is very delectable. It is important to note, however, that a pregnant woman’s protein intake is approximately 71 grams per day. As per reports having two or a maximum of three servings a day is enough for a pregnant woman10.
There’s no doubt that red meat is a complete protein and has many nutrients that help the heart, digestive system, brain, and other organs work well. Yet there are a few risks that cannot be overlooked, and some of them are as below:
What Are the Risks of Eating Meat While Pregnant?
Whether is pork or lamb, not cooking red meat during pregnancy increases the threat of toxoplasmosis, which can even be passed to the baby and is harmful to the health of both the mother and the baby. Toxoplasmosis can have detrimental effects on health like brain and eye damage, due to which other functions can be affected as well11.
Related Reading: 9 Common Infections During Pregnancy You Should Be Aware Of
Consuming deli meats might carry a bacteria known as listeria which could further result in other infections like gastrointestinal issues, meningitis, etc. As per studies, there is a 17% chance for a pregnant woman to get listeriosis12.
3. Risk of gestational diabetes
If a pregnant woman consumes an excessive amount of red meat, she is more likely to develop gestational diabetes. Under gestational diabetes, the blood sugar level rises which might result in overweight babies or even type 2 diabetes.
Precautions To Take When Eating Red Meat During Pregnancy
Red meat is an excellent source of nutrients if taken in the required amount. Besides that, it is even important to make it the right way to avoid any of its side effects. A few tips to eat meat the right way are as below:
Cleaning the red meat is a crucial step so follow the steps given
- It is advisable to wash hands before and even after chopping red meat.
- It is also advisable to wash the utensils to be sure that there are no bacteria.
It happens that even after getting red meat, we cannot cook it immediately. In certain circumstances, it should be kept in a frozen state and refrigerated to avoid any side effects.
3. Ensure it is thoroughly cooked
Raw meat during pregnancy is a high no as it contains many bacteria that can be harmful to the mother as well as the baby. So, it is important to cook it thoroughly and then consume it.
4. Avoid marinades
Marinades soften the meat and should not be reused because they can contain harmful bacteria.
All red meat items should be kept away from other items like fruits, vegetables, etc so that no bacteria get transmitted to them. It is ideal to keep them on different shelves altogether to avoid drippage to other items. One can even use frozen pre-stuffed poultry for the same13.
Thus, it is good to have red meat during pregnancy; however, it is very important to be vigilant about the requisite quantity only. It is beneficial to both the mother and the baby until they reach the recommended limit; after that, it can be extremely harmful to both. Red meat is a powerhouse of nutrients but has some adverse side effects so best to keep it minimalistic and substitute it with fish, plant proteins, etc.