Eating Spicy Food in Pregnancy: Myths, Risks & Tips

Eating Spicy Food While Pregnant

A woman’s diet during pregnancy is of utmost importance, as it not only gives nourishment to the mother, but also to the baby. As it is the only source of nourishment for the growing foetus, the diet of a woman needs to be well balanced. Care should be taken to include only those items that will not harm the mother and the baby. On most days, you should eat what your doctor recommends and what is good for your and the baby. However, sometimes the mother may want to indulge in her favourite foods. These foods may be spicy, and hence comes the important question, “Can you eat spicy food while pregnant?” In this article, we will answer just that! 

Is Eating Spicy Food Safe During Pregnancy?

Spicy food does not affect the baby or the pregnancy. However, consuming more spicy food than what your body can bear creates digestion, acidity, and heartburn related problems.

I. Spicy Food During the First Trimester

Consuming spicy food in the first trimester is safe and does not affect the development of the baby. The risk of early pregnancy loss is high in the first trimester, which may make expecting mothers worry about the side effects of consuming spicy food.

II. Spicy Food During the Second and Third Trimester

Consumption of spicy food during the second and third trimester increases the chances of experiencing heartburn and acid reflux. In the third trimester, the growing foetus causes stomach acids to revert to the oesophagus, and eating spicy foods could aggravate this condition.

How Much Spice is Safe in Food?

As long as your body can digest all the spices, it is safe to consume spicy food in limited quantities. Avoid eating spicy food cooked outside. Instead, buy fresh spices and grind them at home to avoid adulteration with heavy metals and colours.

Benefits Of Eating Spicy Food During Pregnancy

As there are negatives, there are also positives to eating spicy food during the pregnancy. Here are some benefits of eating spicy food during pregnancy:

1. Exposes the Baby to New Tastes

By eating spicy food during pregnancy, you can introduce your baby to new tastes while their in your womb. Some researchers suggest that eating different flavours during pregnancy and breastfeeding increases the likelihood of the child accepting those flavours later in life. The flavours are passed on to your little one in your womb by the amniotic fluid. 

2. Improves Heart Health

Some studies suggest that eating spicy food reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is considered to be ‘good’ cholesterol which reduces the risk of heart diseases and strokes. 

What Are the Risks and Side Effects of Eating Spicy Food?

Eating spicy food can cause digestion problems leading to discomfort in a pregnant woman. Listed below are the risks and side effects of eating spicy food during pregnancy:

  1. Morning Sickness: Morning sickness is very common in the early stages of pregnancy due to changing hormonal levels. Morning sickness can be aggravated by the consumption of spicy food.
  2. Heartburn: The chances of experiencing heartburn and other digestive issues are high when you are pregnant. Spicy food will increase acid reflux and aggravate heartburn, especially in the late months of pregnancy.
  3. Indigestion: During pregnancy, the rate at which your stomach processes food slows down. Spicy foods have a tendency to cause indigestion and discomfort. 
  4. Increase in GERD: Eating spicy foods can cause an increase in gastroesophageal reflux which can further cause discomfort. 

If you decide to eat spicy food, pair it with a glass of milk to minimise heartburn. Honey can also help prevent heartburn after eating a spicy dish.

Myths About Eating Spicy Food When Pregnant

There are myths attached to eating spicy food during pregnancy. Myths without any scientific backing include:

  • Spicy food can have an adverse impact on your baby.
  • Eating spicy food can lead to pre-term labour.
  • Consumption of spicy foods during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage and congenital disabilities.
  • You must consume spicy foods to induce labour. 
  • It can cause your baby to be born blind. 

None of these myths have any scientific backing, so they must not be believed.

Why You Crave Spicy Food During Pregnancy, and Does It Specify the Gender Of the Baby?

During pregnancy, there are a lot of hormonal fluctuations in the body, which can alter the woman’s perception of taste and smell. This can cause you to crave spicy food during your pregnancy. 
The simple answer is no. Craving spicy food while pregnant can’t specify the gender of your baby. Only a licensed professional can predict the gender of the baby through sonography. 

Tips to Consume Spicy Food in the Right Manner

To make sure that you are not adversely affected by the dangers of spicy food, you must consume them in a proper manner.

  • Consume spices that are branded and approved by food certification authorities.
  • Do not consume spices that are sold loose, as they may contain impurities such as brick powder.
  • If you are consuming new spices, start eating them in small quantities. It is best to buy fresh spices and grind them at home.
  • Check packaging and expiry dates before buying spices from outside.
  • Limit spicy dishes to one per meal and change your cuisine if spicy Indian cuisine gives you heartburn.
  • Give preference to home-cooked food, as you can regulate the quality and quantity of spices used in food.

How You Can Include Spicy Food In Your Diet?

You should be cautious and selective while consuming spicy food during pregnancy. Some of the spicy food items that can be included in your diet are as follows:

Sauces and Pickles

  • Wasabi Peas: These are hot and crunchy peas that are safe to eat and cause no harm.
  • Curry Sauce: A blend of onion, garlic, chilli and all common spices, curry sauce is widely used in Indian food and is safe to consume.
  • Piri-Piri Sauce: It is a blend of onion, garlic, tomato, and the main ingredient ‘super-hot’ African bird’s eye chilli.
  • Middle Eastern Cooking Sauces: Sweet sauces made of black onion seeds, green chillies, tomato, and coriander.
  • Spicy Pickles: Available at any convenient store, small amounts of these pickles alongside your food is safe and can satiate your craving for spices.
  • Pepper: One can try out pepper-based soups whenever you have a cold due to low immunity. The anti-bacterial properties of pepper, along with its spicy effect, make it an ideal spice during pregnancy.

It is preferred to make sauces at home, to avoid excessive use of spices or oils, which can cause heartburn.

Irritable Uterus Due to Spicy Food

Though spicy food is usually safe during pregnancy, too much spice or a sensitive digestive system can have some side-effects for pregnant women. In some women, spicy food can cause an irritable uterus or irritation in the intestines. Spicy foods usually pass through the gastro-intestinal tract quicker than non-spicy food, and may even cause diarrhoea, acidity, or gas. These issues can make the intestines cramp, which in turn, causes irritation in the uterus due to its close proximity to the intestines. The major symptom of an irritable uterus is disorganised twitching in the uterine muscles or cramps in the lower abdomen, which in rare cases, can cause contractions that begin to dilate the cervix. Women who are less than 37 weeks pregnant and experience any such symptoms should immediately consult their doctor, who can further guide them. If you notice any sensitivity to spicy foods during pregnancy, such as acidity, gas, or cramping, it is suggested that you avoid spicy food.


FAQ’s pertaining to consumption of spicy food are as follows:

1. Is Consumption Of Spicy Food Safe For My Baby?

Spicy food does not harm the baby and is absolutely safe to consume.

2. Can My Baby Taste Spicy Food In The Womb?

Research suggests that eating spicy food when pregnant can pass on the flavour to the amniotic fluid, which further passes the flavour to the baby in the womb. So, in a way, your baby can taste spicy food in the womb. 

3. What Spices Should You Avoid During Pregnancy?

Poppy seeds, garlic, peppermint, rosemary, and nutmeg are some spices that you must avoid during your pregnancy. These should especially be avoided in large quantities. 

4. Can You Eat Spicy Chips When Pregnant?

You can eat spicy chips in moderation unless suggested otherwise by your doctor. 

5. Does Spicy Food Help To Induce Labor?

No, spicy food does not help induce labor. 

Although spicy food is safe to consume during pregnancy, it is best to keep its intake limited in order to avoid discomfort due to heartburn and indigestion. Eating a healthy diet with a mix of different flavours will help break the monotony and keep your taste buds interested in the food you consume.

Also Read: 15 Most Common Pregnancy Myths

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