Pregnancy is a blissful phase that comes with a lot of joyous moments as well as some challenges — especially when it comes to handling food cravings — which you must be smart enough to deal with. This is because you get a lot of advice on what to eat and what not to. One such opinion is about eating raw vegetables during pregnancy.
You may have been warned against eating raw vegetables during pregnancy, but there always existed doubt on if it should be completely avoided. A pregnancy diet must be planned carefully as the nutrients you eat during this phase is what develops a healthy baby.
Read on to know more about raw vegetables to avoid during pregnancy and on tackling craving raw vegetables during pregnancy.
Eating raw vegetables during pregnancy is an excellent choice as it adds a good amount of nutrients to your diet. However, this must be practiced with caution1.
Vegetables indeed are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber which are much needed during pregnancy. However, the amount of nutrition we retain from our veggies is influenced by the way the food is prepared2.
There is no doubt that the intake of fruits and vegetables in your diet when you are pregnant acts as an excellent source of nutrition. However, the question arises if it needs to be cooked or eaten raw.
Raw vegetables provide the body with more minerals and proteins and there are certain benefits of eating raw vegetables during pregnancy. However, it is best to consult your doctor who will be the best guide for your particular case.
Listed below are a few benefits of eating raw vegetables during pregnancy.
Constipation during pregnancy is one common problem faced by many moms-to-be. Certain foods act wonderfully without any side effects. Raw cucumber during pregnancy is one such food as it is a source of both soluble and insoluble fibers.
Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels whereas insoluble fiber softens stools and treats constipation, which is common during pregnancy3.
Omega 3-rich foods play an important role during pregnancy. It helps in supporting brain and eye development in babies and helping to prevent preterm birth4.
A few omega-3 fatty acids-rich vegetables include squash, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
Folate is important for preventing malformation of the baby’s brain and spine. Broccoli is one of the best sources of antioxidants like vitamin A and folic acid, which makes it a wonder food during pregnancy. If you are wondering “can I eat raw broccoli during pregnancy” the answer is yes, unless they are washed and cleaned.
Related Reading: Green Tea And Folic Acid Absorption During Pregnancy
Other vegetables rich in folate are cabbage, peas, broccoli, and asparagus.
Calcium during pregnancy plays an important role as it is required to maintain healthy blood vessels, muscles, nerves, and the functions of hormones. Spinach is one of the raw vegetables that you can take along with salads. Also, small baby artichokes are the best choice if you want to eat them raw.
Raw vegetables come with high vitamin content which gets lost when the vegetables are exposed to heat. For example, boiled cauliflower is likely to have less vitamin C than raw cauliflower.
Eating raw vegetables during pregnancy means you are likely to get more water-soluble nutrients – vitamin C, and B vitamins. However, cooked vegetables can still meet daily requirements5.
Antioxidants are much available in vegetables. Just like vitamin C, antioxidants also break during cooking. Eating raw veggies as with their ripeness helps you get the most antioxidants6.
Related Reading: Indian Tea (Chai) During Pregnancy
Many people follow a raw food diet owing to a plethora of benefits such as no oil, low calories, etc. It is believed that exposing certain foods to heat reduces their vitamin and antioxidant contents. However, there always exists the question: “are raw vegetables good for pregnancy?”
Not all raw foods are safe during pregnancy and hence it requires certain precautions to be followed.
Listed below are certain raw vegetables that are safe to be consumed during pregnancy.
1. Onions are safe during pregnancy
Be it dal or sabzi, onions are the most common vegetables in the Indian household. Onions contain several antioxidants that are good for the liver. Allicin in onion helps in preventing heart disease, boost bone density, and also decreasing blood pressure. You can use raw onions in salads which can be taken as a midday snack7.
2. You can eat raw beetroot during pregnancy
This is an iron-rich veggie that has maximum benefits when taken in the form of salads or juice. Beetroot helps in lowering blood pressure and also provides you with an energy boost — which is much needed during pregnancy.
Tomatoes are probably another vegetable that is commonly used in many households. The properties of tomatoes are best received when consumed raw in the form of salads. Tomatoes contain antioxidants that are lost during the process of cooking8. So you can easily include tomatoes in your pregnancy diet.
Eating raw garlic may not be resisting for many, yet it comes with a plethora of benefits. Raw garlic works as an anti-inflammatory boost to your immunity and also helps to control blood pressure9.
Related Reading: 11 Easy Tips Glowing Skin During Pregnancy
5. Raw broccoli is safe during pregnancy
Broccoli is one of the healthiest veggies that you must include in your daily diet owing to its richness in antioxidants, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and protein. If you are wondering “can I eat raw broccoli during pregnancy?”, the answer is yes. However, ensure to blanch it in salt water before consuming.
6. Indulge in eating raw carrots during pregnancy
Eating carrots is good for pregnant women and their unborn babies. These root vegetables can be eaten both in raw and cooked form. It is a rich source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
Regular consumption of carrots is very effective for fetal growth and development because carrots contain good amounts of calcium and Vitamin A carotene, which is very important for fetal bone and teeth formation.
According to a source, images from fetuses in the womb show they smiled after their mothers ate carrots but scowled over kale11.
Though we keep hearing about the fact that cooking vegetables will rob the food’s nutritional value, there are certain raw vegetables to avoid during pregnancy. Remember, not all vegetables are safe enough to be eaten raw. Ideally, they are much more nutritious when cooked.
Related Reading: 11 Simple Ways To Boost Immunity During Pregnancy
The effect of cooking adds more benefits to your overall health. Certain vegetables are safe to consume only when they are cooked. Few vegetables, when eaten raw, can lead to digestive distress. Also, the chances that these vegetables contain worms are high.
Here’s a list of such veggies you should never eat raw. They are healthier when cooked.
1. Avoid raw potatoes during pregnancy
Also, due to a compound known as solanine, raw potatoes when stored for too long, develop green spots. It is not safe to consume such potatoes13.
Although eating this vegetable raw is jit going to cause much harm to you, it is suggested to eat it cooked as Asparagus is healthier when cooked. Cooking helps to absorb the nutritional value of asparagus in a better way.
Similar to potatoes, the solanine compound available in eggplants makes it an unsafe option to eat them raw. Young eggplants harvested early contain these compounds at a high level. Eating raw eggplants during pregnancy is expected to cause gastrointestinal troubles. Hence, it is safe to be consumed after cooking14.
If you are craving raw vegetables during pregnancy, especially French beans, we suggested you avoid them. Some of the varieties of beans can prove hazardous when eaten raw. These contain amino acids which could be harmful and toxic. However, when these vegetables are soaked, cleansed, and cooked, they are safe to consume15.
This vegetable when consumed raw can cause certain gastrointestinal problems. It comes with certain compounds in it such as tetracyclic triterpenoid, or cucurbitacins, which can induce toxicity if consumed raw.
According to a source, a case report was submitted where a 52-year-old hypertensive woman had complaints of severe upper abdominal pain, multiple episodes of vomiting, and fresh blood in vomitus since the morning. The episode had begun after she had consumed a bottle of gourd juice in the morning16.
Sweet potatoes are considered safe for consumption during pregnancy as they are rich in vitamins A and C, and fiber. The outer layer of sweet potatoes, if uncooked, can lead to digestive-system-related issues like bloating and heartburn. It can also cause nausea17.
Vegetables are a great source of nutrition for pregnant women as they come with vitamins, folate, calcium, and fiber. Though there is always a conception that cooking vegetables lose their nutrition, eating raw vegetables during pregnancy could come with disease-causing microbes, pesticides, or other contaminants.
Though eating raw vegetables during pregnancy is a healthy option, it is important to understand the risks and safety issues associated with it.