5 Indian Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy

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Pregnancy brings along a lot of responsibilities for the mother-to-be. One of them is knowing what to eat and what not to. Here we present a list of Indian foods to avoid during pregnancy to help you categorize your food choices and avoid complications.

The food you eat while pregnant affects both you and your baby. Some foods have been known to induce abortion or premature delivery, while others can affect fetal brain development. Even though your near and dear ones may suggest you some meal plans, their contradicting advice can cause significant confusion.

So, if you are anxious and feeling clueless about things you should refrain from eating for a healthy pregnancy, continue reading. We help you learn more about food items that a mother-to-be should avoid eating through this post.

5 Indian Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy:

In India, we commonly categorize food according to its Taseer or effect on the body temperature. You can broadly divide food into two broad categories of hot and cold foods. For example, you are sure to avoid guava if you are suffering from cold and cough as its Taseer is cold. While a glass of aam pana, a raw mango drink, can help you beat the heat. Similarly, a pregnant woman should consume foods that help maintain her body temperature.

So let’s quickly look at Indian foods to avoid in pregnancy the reason for shunning them. Here are a few unsafe foods
(1) (2):

1. Raw Papaya:

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Papaya is a healthy food, but you should only eat a ripe one. As raw papaya contains a high concentration of latex, a milky liquid that can trigger uterine contractions. The unripe papaya latex can induce labor and abortion (3).

2. Eggplant:

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It is a veggie that enjoys great popularity across the globe. It contains phytohormones that may have a diuretic effect. Brinjals can be very helpful in curing premenstrual syndrome [PMS] and amenorrhea. If an individual consumes half an eggplant on a daily basis, it could naturally regulate the menstrual cycle (4). Hence, pregnant women should refrain from consuming eggplants. This is another Indian food to avoid during pregnancy.

3. Sesame Seeds:

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The sesame seeds can stimulate the uterine muscles, cause contractions and ultimately evict a fertilized ovum. Women especially in the first trimester of pregnancy should avoid eating sesame seeds (2). Pregnant women can safely munch on nuts like pistachios, walnuts, groundnuts, and other dry fruits like raisins and almonds instead.

4. Fennel And Fenugreek Seeds:

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In many Indian homes, the elders in the family advise a new mother to consume fenugreek seeds and fennel in the form of a laddoo or some other variation. Methi dana or fenugreek seeds and fennel or saunf have the potential to stimulate menstruation, correct a hormonal disorder, cleanse the uterus and boost milk production. The two spices contain phytoestrogens, which may induce uterine contractions (5). You can safely use a pinch of the two popular ingredients while cooking. But taking it as a medicinal dose is a complete no-no for a pregnant woman.

5. Ajinomoto (Monosodium Glutamate):

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Even though it is not an Indian spice, Ajinomoto is still used in rustling up street-side Chinese dishes in India! Owing to its extensive use, Ajinomoto has become a common household cooking ingredient. It is the secret ingredient that makes Chinese food so delicious! Chinese cuisine enjoys huge popularity in India. If you love to binge on noodles and Manchurian curry, you may have to compromise on your taste buds for nine months. Ajinomoto may adversely affect the development of the brain in the fetus. Hence, you should strictly stay away from it to safeguard the growth and development of your precious baby (6).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which foods are harmful to pregnancy?

The American pregnancy association advises that it is best to avoid raw eggs, unwashed vegetables and uncooked meat, and unpasteurized dairy products to prevent the risk of complications while pregnant (7).

2. What herbs and spices should I avoid when pregnant?

According to recommendations by the American pregnancy association, certain herbs, including the saw palmetto, ephedra, pennyroyal, aloe, and ginseng could be unsafe for consumption when pregnant (8).

3. Which Indian food can cause miscarriage?

A cohort study on women in India revealed that certain foods (apart from raw papaya), including pineapple, wood apple, and eggplant, were associated with an increased risk of miscarriage when consumed during pregnancy (9).

Raw papaya, fennel and fenugreek seeds, eggplants, and sesame seeds are some Indian foods to avoid during pregnancy. Some of the ingredients in these foods may negatively impact the pregnancy or the growing baby. Also, some ingredients may trigger uterine contractions that could lead to miscarriage or early delivery, especially if consumed in excess amounts. You may also avoid Ajinomoto (monosodium glutamate), which is often used in Chinese foods and street foods since it causes issues with fetal brain development. Maintain a balanced diet, practice regular exercise during pregnancy for better health, and always seek your doctor’s advice to learn the safest food choices.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Lakshmi G; (2013); FOOD PREFERENCES AND TABOOS DURING ANTE-NATAL PERIOD AMONG THE TRIBAL WOMEN OF NORTH COASTAL ANDHRA PRADESH.
    https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.650.9370&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  2. Deboshree Ghosh and Suvendu Ghosh; (2018); Forbidden Foods for Healthy Pregnancy.
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328513110_Forbidden_Foods_for_Healthy_Pregnancy
  3. Pregnancy: Avoiding Papaya.
    https://wa.kaiserpermanente.org/kbase/topic.jhtml?docId=tn9779
  4. Frances Betty Fraikue; (2018); Review of Historical, Health Benefts and Uses of Eggplants by Humankind.
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323966778_Review_of_Historical_Health_Benefts_and_Uses_of_Eggplants_by_Humankind
  5. Ramzi Shawahna; (2018); Which Benefits and Harms of Using Fenugreek as a Galactogogue Need to Be Discussed during Clinical Consultations? A Delphi Study among Breastfeeding Women, Gynecologists, Pediatricians, Family Physicians, Lactation Consultants, and Pharmacists.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5937604/
  6. Monica Singh; (2015); Fact or Fiction? The MSG Controversy.
    https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/8846733/Sing05.pdf
  7. Foods to Avoid When Pregnant
    https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/foods-to-avoid-during-pregnancy/
  8. Herbs and Pregnancy
    https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/is-it-safe/herbs-and-pregnancy/
  9. Hannah G Lunkenheimer et al., (2021); Tradition, taste and taboo: the gastroecology of maternal perinatal diet.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8718855/
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Ria Saha

Ria is a techie-turned-writer and writes articles on health, with special emphasis on nutrition. She did her B.Tech from West Bengal University of Technology and was previously associated with IBM as SAP ABAP technical consultant. She moved into freelance content writing in 2013 and worked for various websites including MomJunction, Brainpulse Technologies, and Emarketz India.