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Consuming the right diet is essential during pregnancy. However, this can become tricky as many to-be-mothers are fed a healthy dose of myths and traditional wisdom as an accompaniment to each meal. Mushrooms are a bone of contention, with some saying that they are an ideal food and others saying that they pose a danger to maternal health. Let us see if there is any merit behind this debate.
Is Eating Mushroom in Pregnancy Safe & Healthy?
Mushrooms are edible fungi. They are a low-calorie source of good quality protein. A hundred grams of white button mushrooms can deliver approximately twenty-two calories. They are a powerhouse of nutrition and contain vitamins, minerals and trace elements in large quantities. However, some edible mushrooms may cause people with allergies to have side effects. They also may trigger stomach problems like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea in a small section of individuals. Eating wild and magic mushrooms can even be dangerous.
Safe Mushrooms In Pregnancy
If you have been eating mushrooms before, it is generally safe to continue eating the same type through your pregnancy. Choose mushrooms which look fresh and clean, with no bruising. Do not eat raw mushrooms. Cook them well after washing; this will save you from an attack on your digestion from harmful fungi and germs.
Commonly available mushrooms like Oyster, Cremini, and Button with no signs of damage are safe to eat after cooking. Shitaake mushrooms, mushrooms in medicinal supplements, and frozen and processed mushroom products which are well within their expiry date are all safe to eat. If you feel that eating mushrooms may cause problems for you, either stop eating them or cook them in small amounts. After consumption, wait to see if any problems appear. If they do, avoid eating mushrooms in the future.
While most safe mushrooms have proven immunological and anti-cancer properties, there are some medicinal mushrooms that have other important health benefits too. These include strong antioxidants, anti-hypertensive properties, and liver-protecting and cholesterol lowering abilities as well. A lot of pharmaceutical companies view the medicinal mushroom as a very important source of biomedical properties.
Unsafe Mushrooms In Pregnancy
While most mushrooms are safe for consumption, you do need to keep in mind that some may need to be avoided. Here are some mushrooms that are best kept off your plate.
Mushrooms are essentially indigestible if eaten raw because of their tough cell walls. To make their nutrients bioavailable to humans, most mushrooms which have tough cell walls need to be cooked before eating. Some carcinogenic toxins which are present in mushrooms can be removed by cooking. It is thus considered advisable to cook mushrooms before eating while pregnant.
Magic mushrooms and those gathered wild can potentially pose problems. Magic mushrooms contain a substance called Psilocybin which causes hallucinations, muscle weakness, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting. They also cause ataxia – a lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movements for up to 6 hours after ingestion. Gathering and consuming wild mushrooms poses the danger of toxic mushrooms being eaten, since they may be mistaken as an edible species. The side effects of eating toxic mushrooms are many and can vary from slight gastrointestinal discomfort to even death. These dangers are the reason both wild and magic mushrooms must be avoided altogether during pregnancy.
Benefits Of Mushrooms During Pregnancy
The good thing about mushrooms is that they make foods around them taste better while adding very small quantities of fat, calories or carbohydrates. They are nutritional powerhouses and contain significant quantities of substances important during pregnancy.
- Vitamin B Nutrients: Mushrooms are a natural source of many complex vitamin B components, such as riboflavin (B2), thiamine (B1), niacin (B3), and pantothenic acid (B5). These components have several benefits for the mother and the baby. Riboflavin is very important for nerve development, healthy skin, good eyesight and the development of strong bones and muscles. Niacin helps maintain cholesterol levels and is very good for the health of the heart and circulatory system of both the mother and the foetus. Thiamine is responsible for the baby’s brain development. It also boosts your energy, helping with fatigue which can be a common issue during pregnancy. Pantothenic acid prevents digestive disorders by helping food metabolism in your body.
- Vitamin D Nutrients: Mushrooms are a natural source of Vitamin D which is vital for calcium absorption. This helps in bone and dental development. Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women can trigger fatigue, tiredness, bone weakness, back pain, and depression. Adding mushrooms, a good source of Vitamin D, to a pregnancy diet daily can help with all these issues.
- Protein and Fibre: Mushrooms are an important vegetarian source of protein. Protein is vital for the overall growth and development of your baby. Proteins are also important for the development of the placenta and the foetal support system in the womb. Mushrooms also have a high fibre content which promotes regular motions. It contains insoluble fibre – crucial to proper digestion. It also contains soluble fibre that moderates blood sugar absorption, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
- Iron: Mushrooms are a good source of Iron which is vital to maternal and foetal health during pregnancy. Over 90% of their nutritive iron value can be easily absorbed by the body. This promotes the formation of haemoglobin and red blood cells and keeps both the mother and the foetus healthy and functioning at their full potential. The iron in mushrooms assumes more importance during pregnancy as the maternal heart now has the additional responsibility of pumping out more blood than ever. It is also very important since reports suggest that many women in their childbearing years are anaemic.
- Antioxidants and trace elements: The antioxidants present in mushroom boost the immune system and help keep you healthy and disease-free during your pregnancy. Mushrooms also contain potassium, zinc, and selenium, which are also vital for the proper growth and development of your baby.
Precautions to take while eating mushrooms
- Mushrooms should be bought and consumed fresh. Do not eat them raw.
- They should be free of bruising and decay spots and washed and cooked well. Processed mushrooms should be used well within their expiry date.
- With mushrooms, as with any food item that you have a doubt about, take a small amount and wait a while. If there are any side effects, do not eat anymore. If allergic symptoms are severe or look worrisome, call or see your doctor or visit the hospital in time.
- When eating medical mushrooms as a food supplement or to deal with any pregnancy troubles, be careful and monitor your health status. This way, any allergy or side effect can be handled in its inception.
- Pregnancy is not the best time to experiment with adventurous foods. Avoid wild and magic mushrooms during pregnancy.
Mushrooms can supply several essential nutrients to a pregnant woman. Enjoy eating mushrooms during pregnancy by keeping the above precautions and considerations in mind.