Is It Safe To Eat Chinese Food During Pregnancy?

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Are you expecting? Do you find yourself craving for Chinese cuisine? Then, it’s time for you to explore whether is it safe to eat Chinese food during pregnancy. A lot of myths surround Chinese cuisine especially in the context of pregnancy. An interesting one among them is that if a pregnant mum eats lot of Chinese food, the subsequent baby born is likely to turn naughty! (1)

You believe the myth or not, there is more to know about having Chinese foods in pregnancy.

Reasons To Avoid Chinese Food During Pregnancy

The high sugar content of sauces used in Chinese preparations makes it a no-no for pregnant women. The liberal usage of vinegar, especially in dishes like Sushi, also puts the cuisine under the scanner. Mostly, these vinegars, which even go into the making of many of the Chinese rice are both salty and sweet ended. Dietitians strongly discourage pregnant women from taking sodium and fats in their diet (2).

[ Read: Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy ]

If Chinese women are eating Chinese during pregnancy and they still give birth to healthy babies, then why can’t we? One major culprit that brings all this bad name for the Chinese foods is MSG or monosodium glutamate. It is a typical ingredient that is widely used for Indian Chinese preparations. Ajinomotto is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, a nonessential amino acid that is used to enhance flavors (3).

Categorized as excitotoxin, MSG is potential enough to harm a growing brain and nervous system. Reports have indicated that MSG and aspartame, another excitotoxin increasingly found in Chinese foods, readily crosses the placental barrier and overstimulates the growing brain of the fetus. The excitatory neurotransmitter in MSG can even cause autism, schizophrenia and cerebral palsy in the later years of life. The medical circles fear that an early exposure to MSG by these infants can cause a tendency to criminal behavior and episodic violence in the future (4).

[ Read: Harmful Effects Of Eating Junk Food During Pregnancy ]

A Complete Chinese Food Guide

The NSW Food Authority is a statutory government organization that helps ensure the food is safe and correctly labeled. The organization has listed few foods as a complete no-no in pregnant woman’s diet. They have also classified some foods to be had with caution while also giving a clear green signal to a horde of others.

One of the major reasons to blacklist these foods is due to a higher chance of containing a lethal bacteria called listeria or salmonella. Below is a table that lists few Chinese ingredients which according to the NSW safety precautions is better to avoid, had with precautions and is okay to have in pregnancy. (5)

Don’t EatEat With CautionOkay To Eat
Ham, salami and chicken (If cooked at 750 degree Celsius or more, you may eat)Any raw meat or other under cooked forms of poultry Refrigerated pate, meat spreads and sea food
Store bought sushiMost forms of cheese ( not to be had unless cooked at 75 degrees or more)Fried ice cream, mayonnaise, pancake batterPrepared or prepacked salads, alfalfa sprouts, sunflower sprouts, soybean sprouts etc.
Take away chicken ( Ensure the leftovers are reheated to at least 60 degrees and had within the same day of preparation)Soft cheese, refrigerated should be had within two days of opening the packStore bought custardAlways eat leftovers stored in the refrigerator and eat within a day or two after reheating to at least 60 degree CelsiusHome cooked chicken, eaten on the same day of preparation.Home made sushi with fresh meatTofu, soy yogurt etc after checking the use by date labels. Follow storage instructions

[ Read: Is It Safe To Eat Spicy Food During Pregnancy ]

So next time, don’t lose heart while browsing through a Chinese restaurant menu. Instead, carefully go through the ingredients and choose the less saucy ones for your taste buds. Won’t you? What are the favorite Chinese dishes you know to remorselessly relish in pregnancy?

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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.