Chinese Food In Pregnancy Is Safe Or Not
The recent trend is to steer away from Chinese food in pregnancy due to the supposedly high use of teratogenic ingredients in this form of cooking. However, this trend is not absolutely right or wrong. For millions of women in China have survived and given birth to healthy babies eating Chinese food during pregnancy. However, a few foods from this cuisine style are better restricted by an expectant mother. Here is a list of Chinese foods that are safe during pregnancy and foods that are better avoided during those 9 months…
Pregnancy safe Chinese foods
Traditionally the Chinese recommend pregnant females to eat a variety of foods ranging from birds nest soup to herbal tea. However, since most of these are not customarily consumed in the Western countries here is a list of Chinese foods that one may normally find in an American kitchen…
- Coconut milk – It is believed to improve the baby’s skin quality. The MUFA and Lanoleic acid in the coconuts promote brain development of the fetus.
- Fresh Tofu – Chinese believe it ensures a fair-skinned baby. Have it for the protein and anti-oxidant properties that help improve both the fetal and maternal health.
- Bean sprouts – They are a rich source of B Vitamins, proteins, and phyto-nutrients. Sprouts are known to improve fetal health and brain development. Folic acid present in sprouts is a key nutrient in fetal development
- Conjees – These are therapeutic Chinese soups known for their healing powers in Chinese Medicine. They are bland yet filling and perfect meal substitute during the early nausea riddled months of pregnancy.
- Gan Jiang or Chinese ginger – It is known to cure nausea caused by morning sickness and revitalize the body. It is an effective antimicrobial and antiviral agent and aid fetal growth.
- Chinese tea – Green tea is known for its anti-oxidant properties, which not only benefit the mother but the growing fetus as well. Certain tea catechins are purported to prevent development of cellular mutations in the embryo.
Chinese foods to be restricted during pregnancy
As per the Chinese believes, all “cold foods” are avoided during pregnancy. This includes foods like mango, bananas, and watermelon. Apart from these Chinese women prefer to avoid:
- Pineapples - since they can cause miscarriage or preterm labor.
- Soya sauce – it is believe to make the baby’s skin dark.
- Seafood – to prevent the baby from developing rash.
- Squid and crab – they are believed to cause difficult labor.
As one might observe, most food recommendations and restrictions mentioned are based on Chinese superstition rather than Western science. However, the reason the trend to avoid Chinese food started was the use of MSG in most restaurant and commercial Chinese foods. MSG or Mono Sodium Glutamate or Chinese salt is known to cause nausea and trigger headaches, making the symptoms of morning sickness worse. Additionally, some studies show that the glutamate part of MSG can pass the placental barrier and affect the brain and nervous development of the fetus. This artificial additive also contains a sodium component, which adds on to the Na load of the diet. Too much MSG can trigger BP fluctuations and pre- ecclampsia in high-risk mothers.
Thus, traditional Chinese food is quite safe to be consumed during pregnancy. However, what is contraindicated is the excessive consumption of sodium loaded sauces and MSG. Choosing a restaurant that serves Ajinomoto free foods and cutting down on the sauce added to your food will help you enjoy Chinese food in pregnancy without putting your child’s health at risk.