Is It Safe To Eat Pancetta During Pregnancy?

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Pancetta is an Italian meat cut made of pork belly. This seasoned and salt-cured meat is used in several soups and pasta. If you have enjoyed eating this cut in the past and are currently skeptical since conception, here’s more on pancetta during pregnancy. The meat cut is rich in fat and proteins. However, since it is a cured and thinly sliced meat, most people consume it raw. But during pregnancy, consuming such raw meats could increase Toxoplasmosis ListeriosisiXAn infection spread through contaminated meat, causing fever and diarrhea. risk. According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Listeriosis is estimated to infect 1,600 people yearly, and pregnant women are ten times more likely to get an infection than other people due to their weak immunity. Hence, in this post, we help you weigh the pros and cons of eating pancetta so you can make an informed decision to enjoy a safe and healthy pregnancy.

In This Article

What Is Pancetta?

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Pancetta is popular Italian bacon that you prepare using pork belly meat. The meat is salt-cured and spiced with black pepper and other delicious spices. Pancetta is available as a slab or a roll of thin slices with a strong flavor of pork. Pancetta is highly beneficial for maternal health and is a nutritious food to consume during pregnancy. However, many moms have questions and doubts about eating pork during pregnancy. Are these mere rumor mongers or genuine concerns? So, let’s have a look at health benefits and how safe it is to consume pancetta in pregnancy (1).

Health Benefits Of Pancetta During Pregnancy

1. Calorie-Rich:

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Just one serving of Italian pancetta offers about 212 calories. The meat provides you 10.5% of daily intake of calories, which is 2,000 calories. So you can have an appropriate amount of calories to regulate weight gain, have a nutritious diet, and stay healthy while expecting (2).

2. Offers Proteins:

You need proteins to have during prenatal care for good cell growth and cell and tissue repair. Also, proteins are essential for good growth and fetal development. Pancetta contains a high amount of proteins. One serving of the meat provides you with 1.5 to 2 grams of proteins. So consuming pancetta during pregnancy helps you fulfill your protein intake and meet your nutritional needs while you satisfy your craving for pancetta (3).

3. Ensures Good Fat Intake:

Pork meat provides a rich amount of fats that are necessary for your health and nutrition. Just one serving of pancetta offers 22.5 grams of fats, of which 10.5 grams are monounsaturated fatsiXFatty acids with use in the prevention of conditions such as heart disorders and high blood pressure. , 2.5 grams are polyunsaturated fatsiXEssential fatty acids required for the proper functioning of the cells, brain and prevention of diseases , and 8 grams are saturated fatsiX An unhealthy dietary fat found in meat, dairy, and specific oils such as coconut and palm . Consuming one serving of pancetta helps you get more than 51% of your recommended daily intake of fat during pregnancy. So eating two servings of pancetta can help you meet an average daily recommended intake of fats while expecting. However, it is advisable to eat pancetta in moderation to prevent overload or excess weight gain during pregnancy (4).

Can You Eat Pancetta When Pregnant?

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Yes, pregnant females can enjoy eating pancetta or Italian bacon only if you cook the meat fully before eating. Make sure that you cook pork to at least 160°F. You need to make sure that you cook the pork at high temperature; it does not contain any nitrites and nitrates. Your food preparation should involve cooking pancetta at a high temperature to eliminate the risk of the presence of harmful bacteria. Avoid eating any raw or undercooked pancetta since it is more prone to contain harmful bacteria and microbes that cause foodborne illness. It is advisable to cook the pork until it turns crispy and red in color. Also, examine it for spots where it is left raw all the way (5).

Pancetta is rich in saturated fat and hence is among one of the high-risk foods. Therefore, keep its intake limited since excess fat intake may lead to unwanted weight gain, which increases the risk of other complications like gestational diabetes. Consult your doctor before eating pancetta during pregnancy. The doctor will suggest the appropriate amount of meat that you can enjoy while expecting and prevent you from consuming an excess quantity that may prove harmful to you and your unborn baby.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is pancetta healthier than bacon?

Yes. Pancetta and bacon are both made from pork belly, but pancetta contains less fat than bacon and is not smoked. Furthermore, unlike bacon, pancetta is only cured with no added flavoring agents or sugars, making it safer and healthier to consume (2).

2. Is pancetta the same as prosciutto?

No. Pancetta and prosciutto are different traditional Italian cured pork products. Pancetta is made from cured pork belly, whereas prosciutto is made from pork legs (3).

3. How do you know pancetta is cooked?

If the pancetta has turned brown and crisp on both sides after 10 minutes of being placed in an unheated pan over medium-low to medium heat, it is cooked and ready to eat.

4. Is pancetta a good source of iron for pregnant women?

Pork is not mentioned as a good source of iron for pregnant women. It may provide five percent of the daily required value of iron in the non-pregnant population (4).

6. Are there any special storage instructions for pancetta during pregnancy?

Pancetta may be stored in the refrigerator (after the original package is opened) for about a week. It may last up to two weeks in the fridge if stored in an airtight container or individually wrapped in plastic film.

Pancetta is a form of salt-cured meat rich in vital nutrients, such as protein, vitamins including folic acid, and minerals. Pregnant women following healthy eating techniques and a balanced diet can safely consume well-cooked pancetta in moderation as a part of a well-balanced pregnancy diet. However, one should avoid eating raw or undercooked pancetta as it could contain harmful bacteria like Listeria, which could adversely affect maternal health and fetal health. Speak to your doctor before adding pancetta to your pregnancy diet. The doctor can tell you the appropriate quantity of pancetta expecting mothers can safely eat to enjoy its benefits. They can also inform you about the proper food safety measures you should take to avoid health risks.

Infographic: Essential Points About Pancetta In Pregnancy Diet

Pancetta is an Italian cured meat product and can have some potential benefits if eaten in moderation. However, it also contains sodium and other preservatives. Therefore, if you plan to eat pancetta during pregnancy, check out the infographic below for certain precautions to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

benefits and precautions of eating pancetta in pregnancy (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

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Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Takeaways

  • Pancetta is a type of cured meat that is made from pork belly.
  • It is calorie-rich and contains saturated fats, protein, and poly and mono-unsaturated fats.
  • It should be consumed in moderation to avoid risks to the mother and baby.
  • Regular pancetta consumption can help regulate weight, and promote cell growth and repair.
  • To eliminate harmful bacteria like listeria, pancetta must be cooked at high heat until red and crispy.


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