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Pregnancy comes with many dos and don’ts, especially with regards to diet. While the recommended diet usually includes dry fruits and nuts, many mothers worry that eating peanuts will increase the chances of the unborn baby developing a peanut allergy. Does this mean you have to give up eating peanuts altogether? Well, not really. Read on to find the benefits of eating peanuts and the necessary precautions to be taken.
Is It Safe to Eat Peanuts During Pregnancy?
The fear of allergies is the main reason why many women refrain from consuming peanuts during pregnancy. About a quarter of expectant mothers experience allergies – some allergies spring up during pregnancy, while some women have allergies running in their family. Unless the mother has a proven allergy to peanuts, there is no established evidence that eating peanuts (or any food containing them such as granola bars, cereals, etc.) will affect you or the put the baby at risk of developing an allergy.
So, you can feel free to consume peanuts during pregnancy if you don’t have an allergy yourself.
What Are the Benefits of Consuming Peanuts During Pregnancy?
Contrary to popular belief, eating peanuts is good for pregnancy. The natural fat in peanuts explains its popularity. Analysis of the nutritional value of a peanut reveals that it is as healthy as other nuts in the quantities of valuable ingredients.
Peanuts are loaded with proteins that walnuts contain. A balanced assortment of vitamins (B1, B4, B5, B6, C, E) and various minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium make it a nourishing snack. The calories in peanuts provide energy and strength.
Eating peanuts while pregnant is a smart choice as peanuts are packed with protein and folate, both of which must be a part of your pregnancy diet. Folic acid and folate prevent congenital disabilities and damage to the spine, while protein is essential for a mother and the development of her growing baby.
Peanuts also have the following benefits:
1. Antioxidant Properties
Packed with natural fats and vitamins, especially Vitamins B and E, peanuts provide the antioxidant properties needed to defend the body from flu and other common ailments.
2. Help Cure Skin Ailments
The oil content in peanuts helps control dermatological problems and serves as a natural cure for sores and skin irritations.
3. Bone Development
Including manganese in the diet is essential for healthy bones. The manganese content in peanuts helps boost healthy bone development in the baby.
4. Aid Digestion
The fibre content in peanuts is known to relieve constipation issues. Mothers-to-be could add a small amount to their diet every day to get rid of bowel problems.
5. Cure Anaemia
During pregnancy, your body will need to produce more blood to support the baby’s growth. But if you are not getting enough iron, your body will not be able to do so effectively, leading to anaemia. To combat this risk, pregnant women must ensure they get adequate iron, and peanuts are a great source of iron. This makes peanuts an ideal food to treat anaemia.
Peanut Allergy Symptoms During Pregnancy
Some women might develop allergies during pregnancy. Here are the symptoms of a peanut allergy:
- Diarrhoea or vomiting
- A cough
- Wheezing and shortness of breath
- Itchy throat and tongue
- Itchy skin or rash
- Swollen lips and throat
- Runny or blocked nose
- Sore, red and itchy eyes
- Anaphylaxis: This is the most serious symptom that results in a drop in pulse rate. Since this symptom can be life-threatening, consult a doctor immediately if it occurs.
Side-Effects of Peanuts in Pregnant Women
During pregnancy, consuming peanuts can sometimes have side-effects. The chances of side-effects are especially higher if you have an underlying health issue which could be making you intolerant to peanut consumption.
Some side effects of peanuts during pregnancy are:
1. Risk of Eating Stale Peanuts
Make sure that you do not eat stale and old peanuts. Old, stale and stored peanuts can sometimes cause food poisoning.
2. Toxic Peanuts
If peanuts are stored in hot and humid places, they can get affected by mould and become toxic.
3. Stomach Irritation
If you have gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), eating peanuts could increase stomach irritation.
4. Weight Gain
Peanuts contain a lot of fat that can make you gain weight. If you are overweight, it is best to avoid peanuts.
Ways to Eat Peanuts During Pregnancy
Recent studies have proved that eating peanuts during pregnancy could reduce the risk of your baby developing an allergy. So, if you do not have a history of peanut allergy, go ahead and try the many ways you can eat peanuts when pregnant.
- Fry peanuts in a little oil as frying keeps those allergens away.
- Boil peanuts with the skin on in water and salt. Boiled peanuts make for a great snack if there is a long gap between lunch and dinner.
- There is no harm in consuming peanuts when the pregnant woman is craving them, but the added salt in the peanuts can lead to water retention in the body, as well as high blood pressure.
- Toss a small portion of peanuts in your salad, dips, and chutneys to give them a thick, creamy texture.
A common question asked is, ‘is peanut butter safe during pregnancy?’ The answer is yes. Any food containing a reasonable amount of peanut as an ingredient can be eaten as long as you enjoy the taste and do not have any history of a peanut allergy. If you are craving peanut butter, go ahead and occasionally spread it on that sandwich to relish it.
A pregnant woman is encouraged to have a well-balanced diet – fruits, vegetables, rice, wheat, milk, nuts, pulses, and others. Peanuts can provide you with the essential nutrients that come from nuts. Consult a dietician to understand if you can eat peanuts, and confirm the quantity recommended for you as per your body weight and the overall condition of your pregnancy.
Resources and References: Healthline