Eating Chinese Food during Pregnancy – Safe or Not


We love to spend the weekend in the company of friends and family and this includes watching the latest blockbuster, a little bit of shopping and topping it off with dinner. A range of cuisines awaits us at fine-dine restaurants, food courts and at popular street food joints too. Though Chinese food rates amongst the most popular cuisines in the world, if you are pregnant, take a pause and contemplate. While you may crave for Chinese food during pregnancy, what to avoid is an area you should explore and speak to your doctor about too.

Glutamate is an essential part of MSG and our body produces it too. Mother’s milk contains glutamate while it is found in vegetables and fruits which we consume in our daily diet. During pregnancy, it is necessary to balance the consumption of MSG and eating Chinese food like egg rolls, fried stuff etc. at restaurants can upset this balance.

Reasons Pregnant Women Should Avoid Chinese Food

During pregnancy, one should follow a healthy and nutritional diet as the baby’s health is dependent on the mother’s. You will feel cravings for tasty (not necessarily healthy) food and snacks but cravings for Chinese food in pregnancy first trimester can have adverse effects on your health and the baby too. Chinese food should be avoided, especially that made on street stalls because the freshness of the ingredients used is questionable. This can prove to be harmful to your baby’s health.

Check out the following reasons to keep Chinese food off your dining table:

  • Chinese cuisine that is available in India is known to contain MSG-Mono Sodium Glutamate. If you are pregnant it is best to avoid it since it could cause allergic reactions. This can lead to headaches and hot flushes too.
  • MSG is used in Chinese food to enhance its taste. The consumption of Chinese food during pregnancy can make your morning sickness worse. It can also cause heart palpitations and numbness around the face and neck area.
  • MSG, a vital ingredient in Chinese food items, contains glutamate. This part of MSG can travel through the placenta and can have a telling impact on the brain and nervous system of the baby. The placental barrier protects the baby from acidic food and MSG can break this barrier and expose your baby to germs and harmful bacteria.
  • MSG contains sodium which leads to dehydration, bloating and high blood pressure, especially when consumed regularly. During pregnancy, it causes water retention and is harmful to your body.
  • If you have been allergic to MSG prior to pregnancy, it is best to stay away from Chinese foods. Sleep disturbances, vomiting, nausea and headaches are common reactions; so avoid Chinese foods during pregnancy.
  • Non-essential amino acids in MSG can lead to developmental disorders thus arresting the baby’s growth in the womb.
  • Although our body produces glutamate naturally and it is found in fruits and vegetables, artificial MSG is made from fermenting sugar which is harmful to the health of mother and child. Hence it is best avoided during pregnancy.
  • Chinese foods make heavy use of salt which elevates sodium levels in a pregnant woman’s body. This leads to water retention or edema and can enhance pregnancy complications like preeclampsia.
  • Seafood can contain high levels of mercury which can damage your baby’s health and hence should be avoided completely or consumed in limited quantities.

Chinese Foods Which are Said to be Helpful in Pregnancy

It is a known fact that due to the presence of excessive amounts of MSG in Chinese food, pregnancy can be affected. However, certain Chinese foods and their ingredients can prove to be beneficial during pregnancy:

  1. Chinese/Green Tea: Anti-oxidants that are present in green tea can prove to be beneficial for your health and your baby’s too. However, check the caffeine content before you consume it. CHINESE TEA
  2. Chinese Ginger: This food is well-known for its anti-microbial and anti-viral properties. When included in your diet during pregnancy, it revitalizes the body and is used to relieve nausea too. CHINESE GINGER
  3. Conjees: Traditionally used in Chinese medicine and known for its medicinal properties, conjees is used to make Chinese soups. It has a bland taste and can be filling. It also helps in controlling nausea one experiences during pregnancy. CONJEE
  4. Bean Sprout: This wonder food contains proteins, phyto-nutrients and vitamins. It can prove to be beneficial for your baby’s health and brain development.
  5. Fresh Tofu: It contains many proteins and anti-oxidants that help in maintaining your health during pregnancy.
  6. Coconut Milk: The presence of potassium, magnesium, sugar and protein in coconut milk can boost foetal development to a great extent.

During pregnancy, if you want to taste or try out a new food, it is best to speak to your doctor and understand its implications for your health and that of your baby. If you cannot overcome the craving to eat tasty Chinese food, ensure that you consume it at a known restaurant. Search for restaurants that create dishes with low levels of sodium and MSG. Noodles, steam veggies and rice are your best bet during this period and fried Chinese food with high calorie and fat content should be avoided. After all, your baby’s health is more important than satisfying your cravings for Chinese delicacies, isn’t it?

Also read: Eating Mushroom During Pregnancy- Safe Or Unsafe?