Consuming Drumstick (Shajan) during Pregnancy

Drumsticks in a bowl

A pregnant woman needs to eat healthily and ensure that she consumes all the nutrients necessary for the healthy growth and development of her baby. Drumstick (also known as Shajan in Hindi) is one vegetable that has nutritive qualities that will benefit you as well as your unborn child. This article talks about the health benefits of drumstick for pregnant women.

What is Drumstick?

Drumsticks

Drumstick is a long, slender and fleshy seed pod that grows on the Moringa oleifera tree. The Morning oleifera or drumstick tree is native to north-western India. It is cultivated widely in tropical regions where its seeds, leaves and young seed pods are used as vegetables.

The drumstick is so versatile that it is used not only as a vegetable due to its nutritive qualities, it is also used for water purification, hand washing and in herbal medicine.

Is it Safe to Eat Drumstick during Pregnancy?

It is completely safe to eat drumstick during pregnancy. As with other vegetables, it must be thoroughly washed to get rid of dirt and germs before consumption. Like any other nutritive food, it should be eaten in moderation. The leaves, seed pods and seeds of the drumstick are all edible and full of nutrition.

Nutritional Value of Drumstick

Drumstick contains several nutrients that are beneficial for a soon to be mom and her growing baby. The leaves are a highly nutritious part of the drumstick tree. Just a hundred grams of drumstick leaves contain high amounts of dietary fibre, carbohydrates and protein. They also contain 10% of the daily Recommended Dietary Allowance or RDA of Folate, Calcium (19% of RDA), Iron (31% of RDA) and smaller amounts of other essential minerals like Magnesium, Manganese, Sodium, Potassium, Phosphorous and Zinc. The drumstick leaves also contain Vitamin A (47% of RDA), Vitamin B1 or Thiamine (22% of RDA), Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin (55% of RDA), Vitamin B6 (92% of RDA), and Vitamins B3, B5 and C.

The long, tender, and fleshy seed pods that give the tree its name are consumed mainly in South Asia. They are cooked by parboiling until soft and added to curries. They contain vitamin C and are an excellent source of potassium, dietary fibre, magnesium and manganese.

The seeds of the drumstick can be removed and roasted like nuts or even eaten like peas. They contain vitamin C and fair amounts of minerals and Vitamin B.

Health Benefits Consuming Drumsticks when Pregnant

Drumsticks are packed with several vitamins, minerals and other nutrients essential for our body. Eating drumstick during pregnancy has several benefits for both the mom-to-be and the growing baby in her womb.

Various Health Benefits of Drumstick are:

1. Reduces Morning Sickness

Drumstick reduces the feeling of lethargy during pregnancy and decreases nausea and dizziness caused by morning sickness. Regular consumptions of drumstick make pregnant women feel active and refreshed.

2. Helps Prevent Birth Defects like Spina Bifida

Drumstick leaves contain folate, which is a vitamin essential for the formation of the baby’s neural tube, which goes on to form the brain and spinal column. Deficiency of Folate leads to neural tube defects such as Spina Bifida which can cause serious health problems in the babyThus, the benefits of drumstick leaves during pregnancy include preventing birth defects.

3. Regulates Blood Sugar

Drumstick is very effective in regulating blood sugar. Regularly eating drumstick will help pregnant women maintain their blood sugar levels and avoid dangerous conditions like gestational diabetes.

4. Great for Mom’s and Baby’s Bone Health

Drumstick contains high levels of calcium, iron and minerals that help in the formation of strong bones and in maintaining good bone health.

5. Prevents Anaemia

The large amounts of iron in drumstick helps boost haemoglobin in the blood and thus prevents anaemia in expectant mothers.

6. Prevents Infections

Drumstick has powerful antimicrobial properties, and it helps thwart infections and bolsters the immune system in moms-to-be.

7. Reduces Constipation

One of the side effects of pregnancy is constipation. Drumstick contains high amounts of dietary fibre that helps soften the stools and thus relieve constipation.

8. Soothes Stomach Upsets

Drumsticks have medicinal properties that can help soothe or cure stomach upsets in expectant moms. Drumstick leaves with tender coconut water are given to alleviate the symptoms of diseases like dysentery, cholera, diarrhoea etc.

9. Helps in Childbirth

Drumsticks can improve uterine contractions and reduce labour pain, thus helping in childbirth and reducing pre and post-delivery complications.

10. Helps with Lactation

Regular consumption of drumstick helps to increase the production of breast milk in nursing mothers.

11. Reduces Respiratory Problems

A bowl of warm drumstick leaves soup can help clear congestion and soother a sore throat and cough. Drumstick is used as a natural preventive for respiratory problems like bronchitis and asthma.

12. Reduces Skin Problems and Purifies Blood

Eating drumsticks regularly helps in reducing skin problems such as acne. Drumsticks also have antibiotic properties and help purify the blood.

Side Effects of Having Drumsticks

Although drumsticks are full of nutrition and are very beneficial for pregnant women, there are some parts of the drumstick tree which can cause side effects. Also, over-consumption can cause problems in the body.

  • Consuming large quantities of drumstick leaves may cause diarrhoea, stomach upsets and heartburn as the leaves are known for their laxative effect.
  • The bark and roots of drumstick contain toxic chemicals that can cause miscarriages. They are hence unsafe for eating. The roots contain a chemical that can even cause paralysis.
  • The moringa flowers are also not safe for pregnant and breast-feeding mothers to consume as they can contain toxic chemicals.

How to Add Drumsticks in Your Pregnancy Diet?

  • Use the leaves in soup or cook it like spinach.
  • Drumstick leaves and seeds can be dried and ground into a powder that can be sprinkled onto salads or mixed with rice.
  • Drumstick seed pods are usually parboiled and added to the South Indian dish called ‘Sambhaar’, which is thick lentil soup with vegetables.
  • Cook the leaves just like spinach to make a tasty side-dish

Tips to Buy the Right Drumsticks

Remember the following tips when buying drumsticks –

  • The seed pods should be tender, bright green and be slightly bendable. If they are rigid, have big bumps on them and are faded in colour, it means the drumstick is not fresh.
  • The leaves should be fresh and dark green in colour.
  • Pick drumsticks with smooth skin. Rough skin means that it is old and may taste bitter.

How to Store Drumsticks

Drumsticks should be stored in the fridge wrapped in cling film. It is best to consume them within 2 to 3 days of buying. Leaves should be de-stemmed and washed thoroughly before use. They can be stored in an airtight box for 1 to 2 days in the fridge.

The benefits of Moringa oleifera during pregnancy are numerous. Regular consumption of moderate amounts of drumstick is very good for the health of both the pregnant woman and her developing baby. However, it is always advisable to check with your OBGYN before you include drumsticks in your diet. Once the doctor gives the go ahead, you can take advantage of the nutrition and benefits of eating Shajan during your pregnancy.

Also Read: Healthy Indian Diet During Pregnancy