Can you eat medium steak when pregnant?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat medium steak when pregnant?” along with the causes and effects of eating medium steak during pregnancy and other foods that should be avoided in pregnancy.

Can you eat medium steak when pregnant?

No! It is not recommended to eat raw/medium steak during pregnancy. It could cause illness not only to the pregnant lady but the baby too. 

By eating medium steak, the mother can get infected with toxoplasmosis, which is something that could cause a flu-like illness. Symptoms of flu are experienced a few weeks after the infection. Also, there is the possibility of miscarriage, birth defects, and stillbirth. Ocular toxoplasmosis leads to blindness in 25% of cases (3).

So, you should be very careful about your and your baby’s health.

Foods you should not eat during pregnancy:

Pre-pregnancy and pregnancy adherence to food-safety recommendations, according to the updated Dietary Guidelines for American and Mediterranean Diet, should avoid inadequate levels of key nutrients and micronutrients (proteins, iron, folic acid, vitamin D, calcium, iodine, omega-3, and vitamin B12) that may predispose the offspring to chronic condition later in life such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurodevelopmental delays (1).

During pregnancy, you should avoid eating the below-mentioned foods for the sake of your and your baby’s health (2).

  • Avoid any kind of raw/pre-cooked meat like poultry, fish, and shellfish. 
  • Do not consume raw hamburgers, beef, sushi, sashimi, ceviche and carpaccio, and raw oysters. These can contain toxoplasmosis.
  • Fishes that contain a very high amount of mercury should be avoided by pregnant women. It includes swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, shark, and orange roughy. Methylmercury in fish is teratogenic, affecting development of the fetal nervous system, and therefore should be restricted to two portions a week. 
  • Pregnant women should avoid eating refrigerated smoked seafood. It must be cooked properly and heated at an internal temperature of 165-degree F. You can eat smoked seafood but make sure that smoked seafood is properly canned. 
  • Pregnant women should also avoid having unpasteurized dairy products. Unpasteurized dairy products include “raw” milk and cheese. They should not eat fresh soft cheese like Feta, Brie, Camembert, and Mexican style queso fresco too, due to the risk of  contamination with Listeria bacteria. But if these products are labeled as they are properly pasteurized then there’s no fear in consuming them. 
  • Pregnant women should not eat raw or undercooked eggs. They could contain Salmonella
  • Pregnant women should also avoid eating anything that consists of undercooked eggs like unpasteurized eggnog, Monte Cristo sandwiches, and homemade Caesar salad dressing.
  • To avoid health risks pregnant women should avoid eating raw sprouts. It is better to cook properly before eating sprouts. Also raw salad can be contaminated with soil or contamination with cat feces.
  • Unpasteurized fruits and vegetable juices are something that should also be avoided by pregnant women. 
  • Food high in fat and sugar (including fried, some drinks and confectionery) should be avoided.

Tips for reducing health risks for pregnant women

Other than avoiding above mentioned food for good health pregnant women should also follow some tips to reduce the chances of getting ill. Some of the tips are mentioned below:

Wash hands often:

Washing hands properly is the best tip not only for pregnant women but for everyone to reduce the chances of getting infections. 

Washing hands properly could reduce the chances of spreading germs of flu, cold, and some others. Especially pregnant women should wash their hands before eating anything because it would affect not only the mother but also her baby.

Refrigerator safety habits:

You must check that your refrigerator is working properly. If it’s not set, then set it to 40-degree F or cooler. You should be very responsible regarding your food and health. If there is some leftover food, then you should keep it in the refrigerator before it gets spoiled and makes you sick.

Keep raw meats and ready-to-eat foods separate:

You should keep the raw meat and properly cooked food or meat separate. So that the contaminants present in raw meat do not affect fresh food. 

Dangers of eating raw meat during pregnancy 

While eating raw food, one of the big risks of health you could get is dehydration. Dehydration causes severe problems in delivery. While giving birth, it could result in the premature delivery of the baby, cause low amniotic fluid and some other birth problems. 

Toxoplasma is caused by the Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite. Its infection during pregnancy can lead to serious and sometimes fatal disease of the fetus or newborn. Food, soil or water contaminated with oocysts from cat feces and undercooked meat from infected intermediate hosts are important routes of infection. Heating is the most efficient way to kill T. gondii tissue cysts. Meat should reach internal temperatures of 56°C for at least ten minutes (3).

Consumption of raw meat during pregnancy also poses a higher risk of contracting Salmonella. It could make them sick either temporarily or for a longer time (3).

Healthy meat for pregnant women

Lean beef, pork, and chicken are the best meat one can get high-quality protein from. These meat foods are highly beneficial for health because they contain iron, choline, and vitamin B. The recommendation is the daily ingestion of protein sources, including lean meat, and two portions of fish a week (one of which should be oily) (1).

Iron-rich foods are super beneficial for pregnant women because iron is an essential mineral. Red blood cells in the body use iron as a part of hemoglobin.

Iron is good for growth and development. So, pregnant women need iron in high amounts because not only their body needs iron but also the baby for the growth and development process.

A study compared pregnant women having a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet (no meat in the diet) with a low-meat diet (< 300g meat/ week) pregnant women and pregnant women having (> 300g meat/ week). The results show that low-meat diets and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets increase significantly the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency during pregnancy. Another study showed vitamin D values below the cutoff (<22.5 ng/mL) and low calcium intake in the pregnant women population who do not consume meat. In addition, another study described a high prevalence of anemia in Indian pregnant women because of the very low frequency of meat eating. This all show the importance of eating meat during pregnancy (1).

That’s why eating healthy food should be the foremost priority of everyone, especially pregnant women for a healthy life.

Other FAQs about Steak that you may be interested in.

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Conclusion

In this brief article, we have discussed how pregnant women could get sick from eating medium steaks and the problems they could face at the time of delivery. Moreover, there are some food recommendations pregnant women should avoid eating.

References

  1. Sebastiani, Giorgia, et al. The effects of vegetarian and vegan diet during pregnancy on the health of mothers and offspring. Nutrients, 2019, 11, 557. 
  2. Ho, Alison, Angela C. Flynn, and Dharmintra Pasupathy. Nutrition in pregnancy. Obstet Gynaecol Reprod Med, 2016, 26, 259-264.
  3. Kijlstra, Aize, and Erik Jongert. Toxoplasma-safe meat: close to reality?. Trend parasitol, 2009, 25, 18-22.