Is Having Feta Cheese During Pregnancy Safe?
- What Is Feta Cheese?
- Nutrition You Get From Feta Cheese
- Can a Pregnant Woman Have Feta Cheese?
- Risks of Eating Unpasteurized Feta Cheese
- Other Risks of Eating Feta Cheese While Pregnant
- Is Cooked Feta During Pregnancy Safe?
- How Much Feta Cheese Can You Consume During Pregnancy?
- When You Should Not Eat Feta Cheese When Pregnant?
- Directions for Rightly Choosing and Eating Feta During Pregnancy
- Feta Dishes That Are Pregnancy Safe – With Warnings
Feta cheese is delicious, let’s face it. But when you’re pregnant, you have to watch your diet. What you eat will impact your baby’s health and delivery. And if you’re on the first trimester, you have to be super careful.
Your doctor may have advised you to avoid feta, but do you have to? This crumbly, soft cheese has a unique taste profile that many enjoy, but its safety during pregnancy has been a topic of discussion. There’s more to feta cheese than you think, and we’ll tell you if you can enjoy eating feta cheese in pregnancy. Just keep reading to make an informed decision about your diet.
What Is Feta Cheese?
Feta cheese is cheese made from a blend of goat’s and sheep’s milk. This crumbly coloured block of cheese is popular for being a natural source of probiotic and is easier to digest than cow’s milk. Used in the Mediterranean cuisine a lot, the cheese is used as a garnish for various main dishes, appetizers and desserts.
Nutrition You Get From Feta Cheese
Feta cheese is loaded with nutrients and known for being a good source of calcium. In just an ounce of serving, you get up to 6 grams of fat and 4 grams of protein. It’s very low in carbs which makes it safe for consumption by diabetics as it doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes.
In terms of the nutrition profile, feta cheese has generous amounts of vitamins K, A, pantothenic acid, folate and magnesium. Unlike ricotta, Mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, feta has lots of B-vitamins, protein and phosphorus – all three of which are vital for good bone health.
Can a Pregnant Woman Have Feta Cheese?
Eating soft, pasteurized mild feta cheese is safe during pregnancy. Pasteurizing kills any harmful bacteria and renders the product safe for unborn babies. A pregnant woman can get feta cheese in moderation as long as the label says it’s pasteurized. Additionally, if she doesn’t have lactose intolerance, she can treat herself to it.
So, if your question was ‘Is pasteurized Feta safe during pregnancy? – The answer is, yes.
Risks of Eating Unpasteurized Feta Cheese
The main risk associated with eating unpasteurized feta cheese and pregnancy is being exposed to the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. This is a sneaky bacteria found in a lot of animal and dairy products and thrives at refrigeration temperatures. Refrigerating your feta will only make it worse, and the bacteria targets pregnant moms who have a compromised immune system. Any mom over the age of 65 who is carrying a baby is at the most risk from this.
Listeriosis is the term for the condition that occurs due to the bacteria. Pregnant moms who eat unpasteurized feta fall at the risk of having a miscarriage or new-born illnesses. There’s also the risk of abnormal baby growth and development deformities due to this condition. If you have unpasteurized feta cheese to work with, at least cook it for 2 minutes until the bacteria dies and then consume. It’s a lot safer that way.
Other Risks of Eating Feta Cheese While Pregnant
Here are some risks associated with eating feta cheese during pregnancy:
1. High Sodium Content
Feta cheese, like many types of cheese, tends to be high in sodium. Excessive sodium intake during pregnancy can contribute to conditions like high blood pressure and preeclampsia. These conditions can pose risks to both the mother and the developing fetus.
2. Potential for Excess Weight Gain
While cheese, including feta, is a good source of calcium and protein, it can also be calorie-dense. Consuming it excessively, without proper portion control, may contribute to excess weight gain during pregnancy. This can increase the risk of gestational diabetes, which in turn can lead to complications for both the mother and the baby. Additionally, excessive weight gain can make it more challenging to lose weight postpartum.
3. Digestive Discomfort
Some individuals may experience digestive discomfort, such as bloating or gas, after consuming feta cheese. This can be particularly bothersome during pregnancy when hormonal changes may already be affecting digestion. It’s important for expectant mothers to be mindful of any discomfort they experience after consuming feta cheese and adjust their diet accordingly.
Is Cooked Feta During Pregnancy Safe?
As long as the feta is pasteurized, it is safe for consumption both cooked and raw. The amount of protein in the feta cheese is enough to repair muscles, and for moms trying to meet their dietary requirements for iron and calcium, it’s a good addition.
How Much Feta Cheese Can You Consume During Pregnancy?
Balancing intake is crucial, especially with cheeses. While feta has lower fat content compared to other cheeses, it’s still relatively high in sodium and saturated fats. Typically, a small portion suffices due to its robust, distinctive taste.
When You Should Not Eat Feta Cheese When Pregnant?
You should not eat feta cheese if you find yourself suffering from digestive issues. If you’re struggling with lactose intolerance and get acne breakouts, you should cut out or limit the feta cheese. Where you source your feta from is important too. If you suspect that the supplier doesn’t meet the safety and hygiene standards in the manufacturing plant, it’s best to avoid buying from them. Cross-contamination and bacterial infections are a possibility during those sourcing cases. If you’re on a low-carb diet temporarily, you should limit your intake of feta cheese.
Directions for Rightly Choosing and Eating Feta During Pregnancy
If you’re getting feta cheese that’s pasteurized and straight from the farm, there’s nothing like it. Read the label and see if it says ‘pasteurized’ on it. If you’re not sure how to choose feta cheese brands when going to the grocery store, you can ask your doctor for recommendations. Consulting a nutritionist or dietician will also help too since they’re aware of popular brands for these types of cheeses.
Here’s what you should do when shopping for feta cheese:
- Look at the nutrition label and see if it has any added sugars, salts or any other ingredients. If it has, avoid it. If it doesn’t, go for it.
- It should say clearly on the label that it’s pasteurized. Pasteurized grass-fed feta cheese is often the healthiest, in terms of nutrition profile.
- If it says it has allergens or is processed in a facility that processes nuts and other allergens, avoid it.
Feta Dishes That Are Pregnancy Safe – With Warnings
There are a million recipes you can make with pasteurized feta cheese. Feta cheese is very versatile as an ingredient for cooking, baked and raw dishes. It doesn’t matter if you’re vegetarian or non-vegetarian, feta cheese makes your life better.
If you want your baby to grow strong and healthy, it’s a no-brainer that adding feta to your diet will make a difference. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are some common but popular feta dishes for pregnant moms. Take what you can out of these, tweak them and enjoy the process.
1. Feta Cheese Pizza
Feta cheese pizza is one of the tastiest dishes out there for pregnant moms. You can sprinkle pasteurized feta cheese on top of the pizza as a garnish or simply cook the pizza with feta cheese added along with the toppings. If the pizza has unpasteurized feta as the topping for the end, avoid it. If you’re gluten-free, you can swap out the flour for the pizza base with a millet base or a base like coconut flour.
2. Feta Cheese in Burrito Bowls
It’s safe to have feta cheese sprinkled into burrito bowls and enjoy them as long as the cheese is pasteurized. You can play around with the ingredients, and kidney beans in burrito bowls are a good source of dietary iron for pregnant moms as well. If you’re trying to eat healthily, we suggest going with brown rice for your burrito bowel since that eases hunger and leaves you feeling satisfied.
3. Melted Feta Cheese
Who doesn’t love melted feta cheese? As long as it’s piping hot and cooked properly, you can add melted feta to your sandwiches, quiches, tarts and more. It’s a delicious way to spruce up your meals, and you will love it. Baked feta cheese is another good option for pregnant moms too. No need to go stingy with melted feta on your meals. Layer it generously, and your tastebuds will love it!
4. Feta Cheese Salad
Home-grown or garden-fresh salads with pasteurized feta cheese sprinkled on top is a good way to add veggies to your diet. You can get creative with the toppings and even add nuts like cashews and almonds, dried apricots/figs and cherry tomatoes to these. Add olive oil or vinaigrette for the dressing and you have a juicy salad that’s not just healthy but tasty as well.
5. Feta Dips
Do you eat a lot of fried or fast foods and find yourself reaching out for dips? Pregnancy triggers cravings and enjoying a feta dip with your meals is a good way to save some of it off. When you’re going for feta dips, be sure to watch out for the label. You want to make sure it specifies that the dip’s made from pasteurized feta cheese and not unpasteurized.
6. Feta in Brine
Traditional feta cheese is always stored in brine. But the important part is if it’s pasteurized or not since the brine is irrelevant to your pregnancy diet. As long as the feta in brine is pasteurized, you can safely consume it without worries.
7. Feta Tortilla Wraps
If you’re looking for an easy, quick and no-nonsense feta cheese for pregnancy dish, having a feta tortilla wrap is the way to go. As long as you have some chilli sauce, chopped veggies, meat and tortilla bases, you’ll be good. Top the wraps with these ingredients and generously sprinkle pasteurized feta cheese. You can make the wraps even more delicious by adding peanut butter or sauces along with the feta cheese. It’s delicious!
Although most soft cheeses aren’t allowed during pregnancy, the feta cheese is an exception. As it’s made from goat milk, it is a valuable source of nutrition and considered very healthy. Ready-to-eat hot dogs and deli meats can be sprinkled with pasteurized feta cheese to get a good taste. Hard cheeses are also considered safe during pregnancy and if you want other options, you can try out variants like Cheddar, American cottage cheese and Buffalo mozzarella too.
1. What To Do If You Accidentally Eat Feta Cheese When Pregnant?
If you accidentally consume raw Feta cheese during pregnancy, there’s no need for immediate alarm. The risk of contracting listeriosis from commercially available Feta cheeses is generally low. However, if you exhibit any symptoms of listeriosis, it’s crucial to promptly seek medical attention. Blood tests are available to confirm the presence of the infection.
2. Which Other Cheeses Should You Avoid During Pregnancy?
You must avoid the following types of cheeses when pregnant:
- Soft cheese
- Soft blue cheeses
- Fresh mozzarella
- Mexican-style cheeses
Have fun with your meals, prep wisely and you’ll find yourself sticking to your pregnancy diet without running into any problems. That’s pretty much it!
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