15 Foods to Never Eat While Pregnant

Navigating the world of nutrition can be challenging, especially during pregnancy when the stakes are high. As an expectant mother, it’s critical to be aware of what foods to avoid to ensure your and your baby’s health and well-being. In this post, you’ll discover 15 foods to avoid during pregnancy, explaining why they may pose potential risks. Let’s take a closer look.

Raw or Undercooked Meat

Raw or undercooked meat and poultry have a high risk of contamination with bacteria, parasites, and viruses such as salmonella, E. coli, listeria, and toxoplasmosis. These can cause severe foodborne illnesses that may lead to serious complications for pregnant women and their babies.

Deli Meat

Deli meats like ham, turkey, and salami may contain listeria bacteria, which can cross the placenta and cause infection in the baby. It is best to avoid these types of meat or heat them thoroughly before consuming.

Seafood High in Mercury

Mercury can be harmful to a developing baby’s nervous system. Pregnant women should limit their consumption of high-mercury seafood such as swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel.

Fish Exposed to Industrial Pollutants

Fish caught in contaminated waters may contain high industrial pollutants like PCBs and dioxins. These can accumulate in the body and potentially harm the developing fetus. Pregnant women should avoid fish from local lakes or rivers and opt for safer options like wild-caught salmon or shrimp.

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Raw Eggs

Raw or undercooked eggs may contain salmonella, which can cause food poisoning. It is best to avoid foods that use raw eggs, such as Caesar salad dressing, homemade mayonnaise, and cookie dough.

Unpasteurized Dairy Products

Unpasteurized dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt may contain harmful bacteria like listeria, salmonella, and E. coli. Pregnant women should opt for pasteurized versions of these products to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables may carry harmful bacteria from soil or water sources. Washing them thoroughly before consumption is essential to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.


Caffeine crosses the placenta and can affect the baby’s heart rate, blood pressure, and sleep patterns. Pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to 200 mg daily, equivalent to one cup of coffee. 

Unpasteurized Juices

Unpasteurized juices may contain bacteria like E. coli, salmonella, and campylobacter, which can cause severe infections. Opting for pasteurized juices or making your own at home with thoroughly washed fruits is best.

Raw Sprouts

Raw sprouts like alfalfa, clover, and mung bean may contain harmful bacteria like listeria and E. coli. Pregnant women should avoid these sprouts, which cannot be washed or cooked thoroughly.  

Unwashed or Raw Shellfish

Shellfish like clams, mussels, and oysters may contain harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause food poisoning. Pregnant women should avoid eating raw Shellfish and go for cooked ones instead.

Unwashed or Undercooked Vegetables

Vegetables not washed thoroughly or cooked properly may contain harmful bacteria like E. coli and listeria. It is essential to wash all vegetables before consumption and cook them to a safe temperature.

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Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners like saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose are often found in diet sodas, sugar-free candies, and other processed foods. Artificial sweeteners should be avoided during pregnancy as they may negatively affect the baby’s development.

High-Sodium Foods

High-sodium foods like processed meats, canned soups, and fast food can contribute to excessive weight gain and increase the risk of gestational diabetes during pregnancy. It is important to limit sodium intake and opt for healthier options.

Excessively Spicy Foods

Spicy foods may cause heartburn, indigestion, and discomfort during pregnancy. Limiting or avoiding spicy foods altogether is best to avoid these symptoms.

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