Are Spicy Foods Safe During Pregnancy?

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Many of us love spices and cannot think of not having them in our food. They add a zing to the food. But, how safe are spicy foods during pregnancy? Do they harm the growing baby? MomJunction gives you a complete note on spicy foods and pregnancy.

Is It Safe To Eat Spicy Foods During Pregnancy?

Yes, spicy foods are safe to consume during pregnancy, but in moderation. They expose your baby to a wider food palette, without causing harm.

[Read: Spices To Avoid During Pregnancy]

Spicy Food In The First Trimester Of Pregnancy

The risk of early pregnancy loss is high, which worries expecting mothers about eating spicy foods in the first trimester. But the good news is that many pregnancy losses are due to chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus. And, as long as you do not overfeed your body, you would be fine.

Spicy Food In The Second And Third Trimesters

During second and third trimesters, spicy foods are more likely to cause heartburn and acid reflux. They make you feel uncomfortable if you are already suffering from heartburn. Also, the problem is common in the third trimester as the growing fetus causes the stomach acids to revert to the esophagus. And eating spicy foods can aggravate this condition.

Side Effects Of Eating Spicy Foods

The flip side of regularly eating spicy food while pregnant is the discomfort it would cause.

1. Morning sickness

Morning sickness is very common during early pregnancy. It causes nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain due to changing hormonal levels. Certain tastes could trigger this condition, and eating spicy meals will worsen morning sickness (1).

If you like eating Thai and Mexican food, and the morning sickness has aggravated, it is time to cut down that food down.

[Read: Morning Sickness During Pregnancy]

2. Heartburn

There is a greater risk of heartburn and other digestive issues when you are pregnant than when normal. Eating spicy foods while pregnant can aggravate heartburn and acid reflux, during the later months of pregnancy (2).

If you eat spicy foods, take a glass full of milk or a tablespoon of honey to minimize or prevent heartburn.

Eating Spicy Foods During Pregnancy: The Myths

There are many old wives’ tales that are just myths with no scientific backing.

  • One of the biggest myths is that spicy foods can lead to premature labor.
  • Yet another one claims that spicy foods lead to miscarriage and congenital disabilities.

Possible Alternatives To Spicy Foods During Pregnancy

Different cuisines have different flavors. A few foods are known for their spicy and tangy flavors. A wise option is to have moderate spice, which avoids heartburn sensations and other complications.

  • The best option is to eat home cooked meals, where you can regulate the amount and quality of spices used to prepare your food.
  • Limit your spicy dish to just one per meal. If the spice in Indian cuisine gives you heartburn, switch to other cuisines.
  • Thai and Mexican cuisine have vegetable fillings of hot peppers, jalapeño, chili flakes, oregano, etc. These are milder than the green chilies and red chili powder used in Indian cuisine.
  • You can also choose mild flavored Italian cuisine, which will please your palate.

Is Eating Chilies Good During Pregnancy?

Capsaicin, a chemical compound in chilies is known to prevent the formation of cancer cells. Eating chillies can be considered good if you do not experience any discomfort after consuming foods containing chili, you can continue to have them in limited amounts.

Over consumption can lead to stomach ulcers and heartburn. Also, chilies lower the amount of fibrin in blood, reducing the blood’s tendency to clot. This could lead to excess bleeding during delivery.

Taking Spicy Foods The Right Way

To make sure you are away from the dangers of spicy foods, you should take them in a proper manner.

  • If you are trying out new spices or just having the ones you know about, take them in small quantities. Buy fresh whole spices and grind them at home.
  • Do not consume spices without proper packaging as they may be impure.
  • Buy spices that are branded and approved by regulatory bodies.
  • Check packaging and expiriration dates.

Some Popular Spicy Foods

There are certain spicy foods that are tasty but may need caution while consuming during pregnancy. Let us understand them and their inclusion in your diet.

Curry sauce is a blend of fresh onion, garlic, chili paste, and all common spices. Used largely in Indian cooking, it is safe to consume during pregnancy. Too much can give you stomach pain or heartburn, but will not hurt your baby.

Wasabi peas are hot and crunchy peas which can be addictive. It is safe to eat and causes no harm.

Kimchi is a Korean dish made of pickled cabbage and is served with noodles and barbecued meat. It is safe to eat unless it has raw seafood.

Tom Yum soup is a clear hot and sour soup made with lemongrass, lime juice, kaffir, lime leaves, fish sauce, and chili peppers. It is safe to take unless you have it in large amounts in one go.

Middle Eastern cooking sauces are sweet sauces made of tomato coriander, black onion seeds, and green chilies. They are safe to eat in moderate amounts.

Piri-piri sauce is a blend of onion, garlic, tomato, lemon, spices, and the key ingredient is the super-hot African bird’s eye chili. It is safe to eat as long as you do not include a lot if it.

[Read: Nutritional Foods In Pregnancy]

As every pregnancy and body system is different, the tolerance levels for spicy foods are different too. This means that you should perhaps be a better judge of how much of spice you would like to consume. You could check with your healthcare provider about it.

Like we said, eating spicy food during pregnancy is safe if you refrain from having an excess of it. Also, avoiding a large meal speeds up the digestion process. The key is to stick to a healthy and varied diet and stay away from foods that make you and your baby uncomfortable.

Do share with us below which spicy food you loved to gorge on during your pregnancy

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