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During pregnancy, it is important for the mother to ensure a balanced diet for the well-being of her baby. There are many physical changes that take place in the body during pregnancy that warrant a change in dietary habits. It is, therefore, essential to know what food items can be included in the diet and what should be avoided. Chicken is one of the foods recommended to be consumed by a pregnant woman, as it is a good source of protein and it provides other essential vitamins and minerals.
Is It Safe to Eat Chicken During Pregnancy?
Chicken is a highly nutritious food that is packed with proteins and nine essential amino acids – both of which are the building blocks of muscles. Chicken has low fat content and does not cause obesity, making it a rich source of necessary nutrients for a pregnant woman.
It is important for the chicken consumed by pregnant women to be well-cooked. Raw, uncooked chicken should be avoided as it can be contaminated by a bacteria called Listeria. Heating the chicken above 160 degrees Fahrenheit can kill the bacteria, making chicken safe for consumption.
Benefits of Eating Chicken While Pregnant
Chicken is packed with lean protein and other important vitamins and minerals. Eating chicken during early pregnancy will provide the necessary nourishment to aid the healthy development of the baby in the womb.
Following are some more benefits of eating chicken during pregnancy:
- Chicken is a rich source of niacin or vitamin B3, which stimulates brain development and keeps the brain healthy.
- Chicken contains nine essential amino acids that provide the necessary support for muscle building and strengthening.
- Chicken is low in fat content. It provides important nutrients and prevents the build-up of waste fat. Chicken should be consumed without the skin to lower the fat content.
- The consumption of 100 g of chicken per day fulfils 50% of the daily protein requirements of a pregnant woman.
- Chicken is a rich source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids and is low in cholesterol content.
- Chicken liver is a good source of the vitamin choline. It helps in brain and memory function of babies in the early years after birth.
- Chicken liver also contains folate, which helps prevent neural tube defects in babies.
- Chicken contains vitamin A and E, selenium, and thiamine. These vitamins and minerals have antioxidant properties that promote metabolism and boost energy levels.
- Chicken supplies the body with iron and zinc, which help in the development of new cells. The iron present in chicken is easily absorbed by the body.
These nutrients assist in the development of organs, cells, and bones of the baby. Chicken provides protection from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cholesterol, and heart ailments.
100 grams of cooked chicken meat is the recommended daily intake for a pregnant woman.
Here are some delicious ways you can enjoy eating chicken during pregnancy:
1. You can pan-cook some skinless, boneless chicken breast and add it to your salad for some much-needed protein.
2. You can cook delicious chicken curry and consume it with rice, rotis, or bread.
3. You can mix cooked, shredded chicken with some homemade mayonnaise and use it as a delicious filling in a sandwich.
4. You can boil the chicken with some spices and consume it in the form of healthy soup.
5. If you feel like experimenting, you can make minced chicken patties at home and treat yourself to a delicious, homemade grilled chicken burger.
Harmful Effects of Eating Chicken
Chicken does not have any harmful substance or mineral that is unsuitable for a pregnant woman and is considered to be a safe food during pregnancy.
The only risk associated with chicken is the infection-causing bacteria called Listeria. It is found in contaminated chicken, and it causes an infection known as Listeriosis. Listeriosis in pregnant women increases the risk of preterm delivery, miscarriages, infection in the newborn, or even premature death. As per studies, 22% of pre-natal listeriosis cases result in neonatal deaths.
The cases of Listeria infections in pregnant women are not common. However, pregnant women are more prone to any disease or infection than women who aren’t pregnant.
This bacteria cannot survive in temperatures higher than 160 degrees Fahrenheit. That is why it is advisable to cook the chicken above this temperature before eating it, in order to eliminate the bacteria. A pregnant woman should only consume well-cooked chicken and avoid the consumption of raw or semi-cooked chicken.
Mothers-to-be should also avoid deli meat that is used in the preparation of sandwiches, burgers, and other instant food items. This is because there are high chances that the chicken has been contaminated during the processing of the deli meat.
It is best to consult your doctor before deciding to include any food item in your diet at the time of pregnancy.
Resources and References: Baby Med
Also Read: Consuming Fish during Pregnancy