Eating Liver During Pregnancy – Is It Safe?
Pregnancy requires you to change your diet to one that provides you with all the nutrition you need. Since the focus is on a balanced diet, including meat is a given for it provides a good dose of protein. But, meat preparations, because they come in different forms with different components, might raise questions on their safety, especially during pregnancy. Since pregnant women are at a high risk to suffer from anaemia, they might instantly think of adding liver to their diet plan. But, is it safe to eat liver during pregnancy? Let’s find out.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Liver?
On a general note, consumption of liver is not forbidden for pregnant women. The liver is known to contain a variety of substances that can be quite beneficial for the mother as well as the growing child. However, the liver also has a component called retinol which increases the risks of foetal malformations. Therefore, the portions need to be maintained as excessive consumption of liver can be harmful to foetal health. We shall talk about the harmful effects of consuming too much liver later in the article. Let’s first take a look at the health benefits and the right portions (or amount) of liver you can safely eat.
Benefits of Consuming Liver During Pregnancy
The liver contains some vital elements that are considered essential for a mother and her baby in pregnancy, which makes consumption of liver quite a beneficial choice. Here are some of them:
- Folic acid – It plays a key role in the protection of the child in the womb. It also boosts the foetus’ neurological development.
- Proteins – They are necessary for body building or strength and important for foetal development. And a woman can get enough protein by consuming liver in the moderate proportions.
- Vitamin A – Liver is a good source of vitamin A, which not only provides all-around nutrition but also directly impacts the development of eyesight and immunity in the nascent child.
- Iron – Presence of iron in the liver is one of the main reasons why pregnant women are recommended liver consumption since it reduces risks of anaemia and keeps the blood healthy.
What Is the Amount of Liver That Is Safe to Consume During Pregnancy?
It is safe to consume 65 to 75 grams of well-cooked liver per week to gain health benefits; however, the portion may vary because the liver coming from different sources have different levels of retinol. Some might be advised to reduce the quantity and frequency of eating liver to avoid health complications. It is generally in your best interest to keep its consumption restricted to once a week or twice a month.
So, in what forms can you eat liver during pregnancy? Read below to know more.
Different Forms of Liver
In meat preparations, the liver is generally presented in more than one style, in order to suit different palates. As much as the source might govern its edibility, the style generally doesn’t. You can, therefore, go for the following forms of liver:
- Sausages – Preparation of sausages from livers is a rather popular way of eating liver-based food items in numerous parts of the world.
- Chopped Liver – Another quick side-dish or a snack of sorts to go along with other preparations is a delicious portion of chopped liver.
- Liver Plate – Liver pate is generally a small loaf-like portion of meat that contains liver along with many other meat items and foods mixed together. This is the best way to limit the quantity of liver during pregnancy and yet feel full.
Now, let’s come to the most important part of the article – the risks associated with eating liver during pregnancy. Every expectant mother must know about the risks to make an informed decision of either avoiding liver or seeking immediate medical attention when needed.
Risks of Eating Liver During Pregnancy
Meat is generally beneficial for a mother, but if consumed in large quantities, it might affect foetal health. Read on to know the risks associated with eating liver.
- The nutrient proportions in chicken liver vary as compared to those in beef or mutton liver. That needs to be taken into account when planning the diet if you are keen on eating liver during pregnancy.
- Vitamin A is present in large proportions in the liver. As beneficial as it might be, consuming a lot of it can be harmful to the baby as it is present in the liver in the form of retinol, which is a precursor to the actual vitamin. Retinol, when consumed in high quantities is risky. Overconsumption has been linked with developmental defects in the child, and cancer in the mother.
- Along with retinol, a higher proportion of cholesterol makes liver a bad choice for a pregnant woman who has problems related to hypertension.
You must also know that retinol is also present in some products we use in our daily lives. Therefore, you must avoid some liver products too that could harm your baby.
Liver Products to Avoid During Pregnancy
You might be abstaining from consuming any liver directly, but there are certain products that ought to be avoided as well, which contain liver constituents in their preparation, or derivatives of the same. These usually are:
- Nutrition supplements that contain retinol as a way to deliver Vitamin A.
- Cod liver oil or shark oil along with certain spreads or dips that can contain liver traces within them.
Alternative Sources of Vitamin A
Vitamin A is absolutely essential for babies. You don’t need to depend purely on the liver for it since it can be easily obtained from numerous other sources. Vegetables are a much safer choice in this regard, since vitamin A is present in the form of beta-carotene, instead of retinol. Some of these are:
- Turnip greens
- Sweet potatoes
Eating liver during pregnancy when you have cravings for it isn’t harmful to you. Preparing it the right way and restricting its consumption to the occasional luxury can help you enjoy the taste of it while keeping you safe from its possible harmful consequences.