Should you have eggs during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is that happy yet crucial phase of a woman’s life where your body experiences various physiological and hormonal changes. A balanced diet consisting of both macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) should be taken during this phase to remain healthy and active. According to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), pregnant women require additional nutrients for ensuring the normal growth and development of the foetus. And in this regard, the question often arises that if pregnant women should consume eggs or not. As eggs are a rich protein source, knowing about the right way to eat them during pregnancy is essential.
Importance of protein during pregnancy
Adequate intake of protein is essential during pregnancy for the proper growth of foetal tissues, including the baby’s brain. It also helps in the development of breast and uterine tissues. Adequate consumption of protein also increases blood supply for the benefit of your foetus. And protein also helps in the following -
- Growth of new and damaged tissues
- Repair and maintenance of damaged tissues
- Production of antibodies for the immune system
- Development of hormones and enzymes
- Proper functioning of muscles
- Transportation of oxygen through the blood
Pregnancy and eggs intake
Eggs are a complete protein source which contains all “essential” amino acids, or the building blocks of protein that are required for the growth and development of the foetus. They are nutrient-dense and have high-quality protein. Eggs also contain omega-3-fatty acids, selenium, phosphorus, choline, folate, iron, zinc, vitamin B 12 and D, and multiple antioxidants, which keep the body's cells active and healthy. It also has “good” cholesterol known as High Density Lipoprotein (HDL).
During pregnancy and lactation, as the body demands more nutrients to keep the mother and baby healthy, it is vital to follow a balanced diet. Various studies have shown that it is wise to consume eggs during pregnancy to improve maternal nutrition and ensure smooth birth outcomes. However, it is safe to consume only those eggs which are completely cooked. Pregnant women should avoid eating raw eggs as they are contaminated by salmonella, which might lead to sickness and increased risk of premature birth or stillbirth.
Below are the benefits of eating eggs during pregnancy -
- High in protein - Eggs are known as a “complete” protein source and assist in the development of the baby inside you.
- Brain development - Eggs contain choline, which is essential for the growth and development of brain tissues, and it also protects the baby against diseases like spina bifida and anencephaly.
- Wholesome food - Each egg contains around 70 calories, which nearly fulfils the daily calorie requirement necessary for the baby’s growth, and provides support to the mother.
- Regulation of cholesterol levels - Egg consumption can help balance cholesterol deposits in the body. However, women should consume only egg whites and avoid eating egg yolks during pregnancy to avoid high cholesterol issues (if they are suffering from high cholesterol levels).
- Vitamin enriched - Egg has all the fat-soluble vitamins like A,D,E and K, which are essential for the normal growth and development of lungs, kidneys, heart, eyes and other organs in the foetus.
- Rich in antioxidants- Antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin are important for eye and vision development, and are available in eggs.
Foods with raw eggs
During pregnancy, one should avoid eating raw eggs, eggnog, and foods that are prepared from raw eggs, to prevent the risk of contracting salmonella bacteria that can lead to food poisoning. Below is a list of foods prepared from raw eggs:-
- Homemade mayonnaise
- Salad dressings
- Ice cream which uses raw eggs
- Italian meringue
Consumption of eggs during pregnancy
Before consuming eggs, a pregnant woman must make sure that the eggs are thoroughly cooked, pasteurized, or boiled until firm. Fried eggs during pregnancy or poached or scrambled eggs are wise options. Egg omelette during pregnancy is also safe as it is thoroughly cooked.
Other protein-rich foods during pregnancy
As mentioned above, protein is a vital building block for the growth and development of the human body, and helpful for creating skin, muscle, hair and bones. It is crucial during pregnancy for the normal growth of the baby, and can reduce the risk of low birth weight. So, apart from eggs, other rich protein sources that you can try are:
- Whole grains and legumes
- Milk and milk based products
- Nuts and seeds
- Meat and fish
Pregnancy is a phase that demands extra nutrition for the normal functioning of the mother’s body as well as the proper development of the foetus. Hence, including properly cooked eggs in the daily diet is essential for assisting pregnant and lactating women to fulfil their nutritional requirements.