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Consuming the right diet is essential during pregnancy. However, this can become tricky as many would-be-mothers are fed a healthy dose of myths and traditional wisdom as an accompaniment to each meal. Among the foods that most mothers-to-be are sceptical about are mushrooms. Some say that they are ideal to consume during pregnancy, and some say that they pose a danger to maternal health. Let us see if there is any merit behind this debate.
Is Eating Mushroom During Pregnancy Safe & Healthy?
Mushrooms are edible fungi. They are a low-calorie source of good quality protein and fibre. A hundred grams of white button mushrooms can deliver approximately twenty-two calories. They also contain vitamins, minerals and trace elements in large quantities which makes them a powerhouse of nutrition. However, some edible mushrooms may cause people with allergies to have side effects. Mushroom allergy can lead to life-threatening side effects when consumed.
Mushrooms, including wild and magic mushrooms, may also trigger stomach problems like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea in a small section of individuals. Therefore, if you wish to eat mushrooms, you need to be extra cautious as there are chances of side effects during pregnancy. Having said that, if you do not experience physical issues after eating them, you can continue relishing them and reap their health benefits, but in measured quantities.
So, which mushrooms are safe to consume during pregnancy? Let’s find out!
Mushrooms That Are Safe to Eat During Pregnancy
If you have been relishing mushrooms before getting pregnant, and have not experienced any side effects during pregnancy, it is safe to continue consuming the same type. Usually, commonly available mushrooms like Oyster, Cremini, and Button with no signs of damage are safe to eat. Shiitake mushrooms, mushrooms in medicinal supplements, and frozen and processed mushroom products, which are well within their expiry date are also safe for consumption during pregnancy.
One thing you must remember is that you should purchase mushrooms that look fresh, and clean, with no bruising. Also, do not eat raw mushrooms; cook them well after washing them thoroughly. This will prevent harmful fungi and germs from attacking your digestive system. But, if you still think eating mushrooms could cause problems for you during pregnancy, either stop eating them or cook and consume them in smaller quantities. After eating, wait to see how your body responds. If you experience allergic reactions, seek medication attention immediately and avoid eating mushrooms in the future.
Now that you know some varieties of mushroom are safe to consume, you must also know that there are medicinal mushrooms too that are quite beneficial for the human body. Let’s take a look at what medicinal mushrooms are.
What Are Medicinal Mushrooms?
While most safe mushrooms have proven immunological and anti-cancer properties, some medicinal mushrooms are strong antioxidants, and they have anti-hypertensive, liver-protecting and cholesterol-lowering abilities as well. A lot of pharmaceutical companies consider medicinal mushrooms an important source of biomedical properties that may benefit pregnant women too. That being said, it is always recommended that would-be-mothers consult their medical practitioner/nutritionist before they source these mushrooms and consume them. Some examples of medicinal mushrooms are shiitake, turkey tail, maitake, and reishi mushrooms.
As mentioned earlier, some mushrooms are unsafe for pregnant women to have. Read on to know what makes mushrooms unsafe to consume during pregnancy.
Possibly Unsafe Mushrooms to Consume During Pregnancy
While most mushrooms are safe for consumption, you do need to keep in mind that some may need to be avoided. Here are the ones that are best kept off your plate.
1. Raw Mushrooms
Mushrooms are essentially indigestible if eaten raw because of their tough cell walls. To make their nutrients bioavailable to humans, most mushrooms need to be cooked thoroughly before eating. Some carcinogenic toxins which are present in mushrooms can be removed by cooking. It is thus considered advisable to cook mushrooms thoroughly before eating during pregnancy and otherwise too.
2. Magic Mushrooms
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 movement for up to 6 hours after ingestion. Eating unsafe/toxic mushrooms can also lead to death. Therefore, wild and magic mushrooms are better avoided during pregnancy.
If you are among the lucky few who can eat the regular variety of mushroom during pregnancy, you will want to know its nutritional value health benefits. Read on to know more.
Nutritional Value of Mushrooms
Mushrooms consist of nutrients essential during pregnancy. Here are the nutrients found in 100 grams of fresh Button mushrooms.
- Energy – 27.49 calories
- Protein – 3.68 gms
- Carbohydrate – 1.98
- Calcium – 18.38 mg
- Iron – 0.29 mg
- Magnesium – 18.3 mg
- Phosphorus – 87.11 mg
- Potassium – 318 mg
- Sodium – 7.72 mg
- Zinc – 0.17 mg
- Copper – 0.09 mcg
- Vitamin D – 0.2 mg
- Folate – 8.28 mcg DFE
- Niacin – 0.68 mg
Source – IFCT 2017, ICMR
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. Some of them are given below.
1. Good Source of 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 essential 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.
2. Aids Muscle Strength and Digestion
Mushrooms are an important vegetarian source of protein, which is vital 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. The insoluble fibre is crucial for proper digestion, and the soluble fibre moderates blood sugar absorption and helps maintain blood pressure and cholesterol levels too.
3. Antioxidants and Trace Elements
Antioxidants present in mushrooms boost the immune system and help keep you healthy and disease-free during your pregnancy. Mushrooms also contain potassium, and zinc which are vital for the proper growth and development of your baby.
All these benefits might tempt you to get a packet of mushrooms and cook them in several ways. But, before you do that, you need to know the precautions you must take while eating mushrooms. Read on to know more.
Precautions to Take While Eating Mushrooms
Once you are sure that your body can handle mushrooms, and you get a safe variety of the fungi to have for your next meal, you must follow these precautions to ensure you get the most health benefits out of it. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Mushrooms should be bought and consumed fresh.
- Do not eat them raw.
- They should be free of bruising and decay spots.
- They should be washed thoroughly and cooked well.
- As much as possible, avoid processed mushrooms, but if you have to, reduce your portion and eat it well within their expiry date.
- If you are doubtful about consuming mushrooms, eat 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 immediately.
- When eating medicinal mushrooms, be careful and monitor your health. 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 them during pregnancy by keeping the above precautions and considerations in mind. Try not to experiment with your food as now, your body needs more nutrients than before, and keep the wild varieties away. If you have concerns regarding the consumption of mushrooms considering your current health condition, you must seek medical advice before adding mushrooms to your pregnancy diet.