Can you eat Mexican food while pregnant?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Can you eat Mexican food while pregnant?”. We will also elaborate on what Mexican food is, is it safe to consume Mexican food while pregnant, what types of dishes are served in Mexican food, and will also discuss the Mexican sweets which can be consumed.

Can you eat Mexican food while pregnant?

Yes, you can eat Mexican food even if you are pregnant. Eating Mexican food would not cause any harm to the mother or fetus but if you experience any type of heartburn or nausea-like feelings then you should avoid the consumption of Mexican food.

Among the food items that constitute the Mexican diet, maize, maize tortillas, beans, squash, tomato, chile, and chocolate drinks are the most cited (1). Studies show that Mexican traditional food can promote diverse health effects acting as prebiotics, exerting specific activities on microbiota bacteria or probiotics, and some are rich in antioxidants, such as the blue maize, whose high anthocyanin content confers it valuable antioxidant effects, along with anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetogenic, and anti-carcinogenic properties (2).

The traditional Mexican diet is potentially high in fiber, as it contains grains, legumes, and fruits and vegetables. High fiber intakes have been consistently inversely associated with some obesity- and diabetes-related outcomes (i.e., BMI, body fat, fasting glucose, and fasting insulin), colon cancer, and cardiovascular disease. This diet is also potentially high in antioxidants, provided by fruits, vegetables, and some legumes and seeds, which have been associated with a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and cancer. While the traditional Mexican diet might also contain meats and animal products, sugars, and caloric beverages, which have been discouraged in the literature, these can still be part of a healthy diet, especially if these are consumed in small quantities (1).

Mexican dips and sides in pregnancy

Guacamole 

Avocados are a good option for diet planning in pregnancy as they are filled with a large number of nutritional components such as vitamin C, B12, and K. These are also enriched with a large variety of minerals. 

Guacamole which is made freshly is considered best to consume as compared to those which are served from the buffet or homemade, self-served. Those guacamoles are considered best which are fresh and not standing for a long time.

Health promoting effects of avocado have been attributed to the high content of health-related compounds, including unsaturated fatty acids, acetogenins, phytosterols, tocopherols, tocotrienols, carotenoids, chlorophylls, phenols, organic acids and sugars of seven carbons. Avocado is one of the few fruits in the human diet with a high content of both water-soluble and fat-soluble health-related compounds. The main protective effects attributed to avocados include the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and some forms of cancer, which are diseases considered in many countries as public health problems (3).

Salsa

Salsa is considered a component of a variety of sauces in the cuisine of Mexico. The most common sauces in Mexico are namely verde, ranchero, almendrado, casero, and pipian. They all contain high amounts in fat and capsaicin, the chemical compound found in pepper species responsible for the pungent taste (4). The most significantly found salsa is Salsa Roja, which is based on red tomatoes. The variants of salsa which are considered salsa Picante, these variants are similar to salsa but are spicy to some extent. 

Salsa’s all varieties are considered safe in pregnancy but it is also mandatory to enjoy freshly occurring salsa versions. But if you are going to purchase it from the store then consume it as soon as possible after opening the salsa.

Studies show the presence of mostly insoluble dietary fiber, high phenolic content, and high antioxidant activity could be considered important strengths to boost the consumption of these traditional preparations (4).

Refried Beans

Refried beans are also considered best as a good alternative to veggies. Refried beans are also considered safe in pregnancy. The same formula of freshly synthesized is applied to almost all Mexican edibles.

The refried beans are considered good until they are present within the can or sealed in a container. These sealed or canned refried beans are considered safe as compared to those which are served in buffet or self. 

Beans are high in micronutrients such as minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and vitamins. They also have variable amounts of carbohydrates as starches and fibers. Several studies demonstrate the prebiotic properties of beans, that is, its capacity to favor the growth of health promoting gut bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and decrease in pathogenic bacteria (2).

The self-served or buffet refried beans could be at risk of contamination.

Sour Cream

Sour cream should be examined before consumption whether it is pasteurized or not. The commercially available sour creams are pasteurized which are available in different restaurants. But you should ask them before consuming the sour cream to avoid any type of risk factor.

Queso cheese

This Mexican dish should also be examined before consumption. In most of the restaurants of Europe and the USA, where Mexican foods are available, these are primarily pasteurized but you should ensure the pasteurization of queso cheese before consumption. According to the Colorado State University, this kind of cheese is not always pasteurized and should be avoided by pregnants (5). 

You should keep in mind that queso is often made with unpasteurized milk, and it might be possible that it is raw milk. This unpasteurized, raw milk is mostly used in Mexico and also in other Hispanic cultures, so it is always suggested to make the pasteurized milk.

Nachos and Tortillas also termed chips

Nachos, tortillas also termed as chips are all considered safe for consumption in pregnancy. But these can build up the concentration of fat and salt, especially at that time when these are associated with the creamy dips or sauce. 

So it is also suggested to go easy for nachos, tortillas, or chips when you are bearing pregnancy.

These typical mexican foods are made with corn, (Zea mays L.), which is an important source of carbohydrates, proteins, fiber, vitamins, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. Studies showed that corn contains xylooligosaccharides, which exhibits prebiotic properties and promotes the growth of L. plantarum S2, increasing the short chain fatty acids and the antimicrobial effects of L. plantarum against S. flexneri, E. coli, S. aureus, and S. typhimuriu, maintaining the gut homeostasis (2).

These same precautions should be used in case of crunchy snacks like salted nuts or chicharrones. If you ordered the loaded nachos for consumption to fulfill the cravings then you should check the toppings of nachos for the cheese, whether that cheese is safe to eat or not.

Mexican Desserts and sweets in pregnancy

Mexican foods are not complete without desserts, some of the desserts which can be safely consumed in pregnancy are described as:

Flan 

Flan is one of the most demanding dishes due to the high content of egg in it. Eggs are a risk factor due to the possible contamination with Salmonella (5).

Churros

These are also termed Spanish doughnuts, these are also fine to eat in pregnancy. The chocolate dipping sauce is also considered safe in diet during pregnancy. But it also consists of Caffeine. However, any desserts containing cream should be avoided due to the risk of Salmonelosis (5).

Ice cream

If it is synthesized from pasteurized milk then it is safe to consume during pregnancy.

Fresh fruit

It is recommended to avoid pre-prepared fruits in pregnancy due to the increased risk of the presence of listeria, particularly in the case if you are not going to wash them again. The most consumed fruits in the Mexican diet are citrus fruits, guava, plums and prickly pear, papaya and avocado (1).

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “Can you eat Mexican food while pregnant? We also elaborated on what Mexican food is, is it safe to consume Mexican food while pregnant, what types of dishes are served in Mexican food, and will also discuss the Mexican sweets which can be consumed.

References

  1. Valerino-Perea, Selene, et al. Definition of the traditional Mexican diet and its role in health: a systematic review. Nutrients, 2019, 11, 2803. 
  2. Torres-Maravilla, Edgar, et al. Looking inside Mexican Traditional Food as Sources of Synbiotics for Developing Novel Functional Products. Fermentation, 2022, 8, 123.
  3. Ramos-Aguilar, Ana L., et al. The importance of the bioactive compounds of avocado fruit (Persea americana Mill) on human health. Biotecnia, 2019, 21, 154-162.
  4. Campos-Montiel, Rafael, et al. Nutritional and Nutraceutical Properties of Mexican Traditional Mole Sauce. Molecules, 2022, 27, 966.
  5. Dean, J., and P. Kendall. Food safety during pregnancy. Food and nutrition series. Food safety; no. 9.372, 2004.

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.