When you’re pregnant you have to watch what you eat, so you may ask yourself if cheese is alright to eat? Well, the answer is yes and no, so let’s explore this topic a little more.
There are certain kinds of cheese that are fine to eat, while others are not really a good idea if you are pregnant. As a rule of thumb, if you want to be safe then stick to the ones made from pasteurized milk. The process of pasteurization kills most of the bacteria, which can prove harmful to a fetus if an infection occurs, not to mention the mother.
What Kind of Cheese Can I Eat While Pregnant? Answer: Pasteurized
You don’t need to feel low if you’re craving cheese at this time. Not all cheeses are excluded. The ones that are made from pasteurized milk are alright to eat during pregnancy. These are usually the hard ones like cheddar, derby, edam, goat’s cheddar and gouda, and even soft ones like cottage cheese. The list is longer, so be sure to check the label before you buy to see if it’s pasteurized.
Also, not all soft cheese are a no-no. Processed cheeses, cheese spreads, cream cheese, mozzarella, feta and ricotta are also fine to eat. Aside from the yummy taste, cheese is a great source of calcium, something you need a lot of when you’re pregnant, and frankly even after that.
Risk of Listeriosis
The main risk of eating contaminated cheese is Listeriosis, an extremely harmful disease caused by Listeria monocytogenes, a dangerous bacterium. Though Listeriosis is not a very common disease, it can affect those with weak immune systems, a category into which pregnant women fall. Symptoms are flu-like but can prove to be very harmful to the baby. In extreme cases it can result in birth defects, or miscarriage.
This bacterium is one of those which even refrigeration does not kill, heat does. So, the milk needs to be treated at high heat to kill it. So, if you’re buying from a supermarket where the cheese has been deep-refrigerated, you may think it’s safe, when it might be contaminated.
You need to know that during your pregnancy, your immune system is not that strong. This is nature’s way of protecting the fetus. Thus, what normally may not have affected you, has a chance of doing so while you’re pregnant.
Cheeses to Avoid
So, if you want to play it safe, avoid the cheeses made from raw milk. The FDA warns against soft cheeses, “like Feta, Brie, and Camembert, “blue-veined cheeses,” or “queso blanco,” “queso fresco,” or Panela – unless they’re made with pasteurized milk. Make sure the label says, “made with pasteurized milk.”
Other Foods to Avoid During Your Pregnancy
However, Listeria bacterium, as well as other harmful bacteria, is not only found in cheeses, but in some other foods as well.
As a rule, avoid uncooked or ready-to-eat foods that could’ve been sitting on the shelf for a while. Some such foods include hot dogs and luncheon meats, pâté, raw eggs, raw or undercooked seafood, especially shellfish, or those that have a high level of mercury.
Eating While Pregnant
Remember that you need to exercise your judgment at all times, before putting something in your mouth. Pregnancy can be a trying time, as you try and balance sickness, cravings and nutrition for your baby. You should indulge yourself, but to a point and not without caution. So, if you feel like eating cheese, for instance, go for the safe ones.
Also you need to be aware of not only what kinds of food to eat, but also when to eat it. Different nutrition is required at different times during your pregnancy. For instance, folic acid rich foods are needed in your first trimester, not so much in the later ones. So, remember to include these foods in your diet as soon as you find out that you’re pregnant.
Ask your nutritionist or gynecologist for a list of foods that are rich in the nutrients you need. Trust your instincts and think about your baby. At this point, nothing is more important than what’s growing in your belly.