Can you eat steak when pregnant?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat steak when pregnant?” and discuss what are the risks of eating steak when pregnant. In addition, we mentioned the benefits of including steak in the diet during pregnancy.

Can you eat steak when pregnant?

Yes, you can eat steak when pregnant. Steak provides important nutrients for the fetal growth.

Steak can be included in a balanced diet during pregnancy, to prevent anemia and as a source of high-quality proteins, iron and zinc. Regular meat consumption contributes to improved muscle growth and bone health, ensuring benefits for both mother and the unborn child (4).

What are the risks of eating steak when pregnant?

The risks of eating steak when pregnant are related to food contamination, which leads to foodborne illnesses. Meat and meat products may carry many microorganisms, including pathogenic bacteria and viruses. 

Enterobacteriaceae spp., , Staphylococcus spp., Clostridium spp, Bacillus spp, Coliforms, yeasts and molds are some pathogens that may be ingested when you ingest raw or undercooked meat, leading to foodborne illnesses.

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by Toxoplasma gondii, a protozoan parasite mainly transmitted to humans via the ingestion of raw or undercooked contaminated meat. Pregnant women, immunocompromised persons, and the elderly should be advised to avoid uncooked and undercooked meat (5).

Another risk of undercooked meat is the foodborne pathogenic bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. In about 29% of infections by Listeria, the mother infection might be asymptomatic or represented as a flu-like disease with headache, fever or myalgia. Miscarriages, stillbirths, and premature labor are all possible outcomes of this illness when affecting pregnant women (3).

In addition, as a food rich in iron, the excessive consumption of steak during pregnancy may lead to iron overload. Although iron is essential to the healthy development of the fetus, playing an important role in the health of both mother and the unborn infant, excessive levels of iron are not desirable. 

Studies suggest that an overload of iron in the body may lead to gestational diabetes mellitus, or glucose intolerance which is developed during pregnancy (1). 

As a highly reactive metal, iron can increase the level of reactive oxygen species, resulting in pancreatic β-cell dysfunction and insulin resistance.

What are the benefits of eating steak when pregnant?

Steak is a source of high quality protein and essential minerals such as zinc, iron, phosphorus and magnesium. Thus, the ingestion of steak favors skeletal metabolism and prevents muscle weakness. 

Meat is a source of heme-iron, a highly bioavailable and absorbable form of iron. As part of a healthy diet during pregnancy, consuming steak may prevent anemia. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for adults is  27 mg for women during pregnancy (6). 

Iron deficiencies leading to anemia during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester, can be very negative to both mother and unborn child, leading to adverse perinatal outcomes, including preterm labor, premature rupture of membranes, and increased maternal and fetal mortality (4).

How to cook steak to ensure the safe consumption by a pregnant woman?

To ensure the safe consumption of steak during pregnancy, it is necessary to cook meat to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F followed by a rest time of three minutes.

The CDC recommends the following for pregnant women as preventive measures to reduce the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis from eating meat (2):

  • Cook meat to the USDA-recommended minimum safe internal temperature.
  • Freeze meat for several days at sub-zero (0 °F) temperatures before cooking to greatly reduce the chance of infection.
  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, counters and utensils with hot, soapy water after contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood, or unwashed fruits or vegetables.
  • Wash hands with soap and water.

All meat should be thoroughly cooked before eating. A food thermometer should be used to ensure that the meat has reached the USDA-recommended safe minimum internal temperature, which is 145°F for beef and chops and 160°F for ground meat. 

Following the minimum recommended internal temperature is important because meat and poultry may contain E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, or Toxoplasma gondii (2).

Is steak a healthy food for pregnant women?

Steak can be considered a healthy food depending on its composition. The composition of the meat mainly depends on the feeding conditions of the cattle. Animals fed especially by grass are known to provide meat with a high amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which act as anti-inflammatory and have positive effects on the central nervous system (7).

On the other hand, steak can be a source of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, depending on the meat cut. Saturated fatty acids and cholesterol are not recommended to pregnants, as they increase the risks of inflammation and other diseases, such as hypertension and heart disease (8).

Other FAQs about Steak that you may be interested in.

Can you eat steak raw?

How to cook a juicy well-done steak?

Can you eat medium steak when pregnant?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat steak when pregnant?” and we discussed what are the risks of eating steak when pregnant. In addition, we mentioned the benefits of including steak in the diet during pregnancy.


  1. Zhao, Lu, et al. Dietary intake of heme iron and body iron status are associated with the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Asia Pacific J Clin Nutr, 2017, 26, 1092-1106.
  2. People at risk: pregnant women. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
  3. Bialvaei, Abed Zahedi, et al. Epidemiological burden of Listeria monocytogenes in Iran. Iran J Basic Med Sci, 2018, 21, 770.
  4. Giromini, Carlotta, and D. Ian Givens. Benefits and Risks Associated with Meat Consumption during Key Life Processes and in Relation to the Risk of Chronic Diseases. Foods, 2022, 11, 2063.
  5. Ross, Danielle S., Jeffery L. Jones, and Michael F. Lynch. Toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus, listeriosis, and preconception care. Matern child health j, 2006, 10, 189-193.
  6. Iron. The Nutrition Source. University of Harvard.
  7. McAfee, Alison J., et al. Red meat consumption: An overview of the risks and benefits. Meat sci, 2010, 84, 1-13.  
  8. Thornburg, Kent L., Jonathan Purnell, and Nicole Marshall. Concerns regarding red meat consumption during pregnancy: a reply. Am J Obstet Gynecol, 2022, 227, 360-362.