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During pregnancy, it is important to ensure a balanced diet for the well-being of the mother as well as the baby. There are many physical changes which take place in the body during pregnancy. Additionally, there are different hormones which are released during this phase. It is therefore essential to know what food items can be included in the diet and what should be avoided. Chicken is one of the food items which is recommended to be consumed by a pregnant woman as it is a good source of protein and provides other essential vitamins and minerals.
Is It Safe to Eat Chicken in Pregnancy?
Chicken is a highly nutritious food which packs proteins along with nine essential amino acids, both of which are building blocks of the muscle. Chicken has low-fat content and does not cause obesity making it a rich source of necessary nutrients for a pregnant woman.
It is important that the chicken consumed by pregnant women is well-cooked. Raw, uncooked chicken should be avoided as it can be contaminated by a bacteria called Listeria. Heating the chicken above 160 degrees Fahrenheit can kill the Listeria bacteria making the chicken safe for consumption.
Benefits of Eating Chicken while Pregnant
Chicken is packed with lean proteins and other vitamins and minerals. Eating chicken during early pregnancy will provide necessary nourishment to aid the healthy development of the child in the womb.
Following are some more benefits of eating chicken while pregnant:
- Chicken is a rich source of niacin or vitamin B3 which stimulates brain development and keeps the brain healthy.
- Chicken contains nine essential amino acids which provide necessary support for muscle building and strengthening.
- Chicken is low on fat. It provides necessary nutrients and prevents build up of waste fat. Chicken should be consumed without the skin to lower the fat content.
- Consumption of 1 cup chicken fulfills eighty-seven percent of the daily protein requirements of a pregnant woman.
- Chicken is a rich source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids and is low on cholesterol content.
- Chicken liver is a good source of the vitamin choline. It helps in brain and memory function of babies in the early years after birth.
- Chicken liver also contains folate which helps in preventing neural tube defects in the babies.
- Chicken contains Vitamin A and E, Selenium and Thiamine. These vitamins and minerals have antioxidant properties that promote metabolism and boost energy levels.
- Chicken supplies the body with iron and zinc which helps in the development of new cells. The iron present in chicken is easily absorbed by the body.
These minerals and nutrients assist in the development of organs, cells, and bones of the baby. It provides protection from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cholesterol and heart ailments.
100 grams of cooked chicken meat is the recommended daily intake for a pregnant woman.
Harmful Effects of Eating Chicken
Chicken does not have any harmful substance or mineral which is not suitable for a pregnant woman and is considered to be a safe food during pregnancy.
The only risk associated with chicken is because of the infection causing bacteria Listeria. This is found in contaminated chicken and causes an infection known as Listeriosis. Listeriosis in pregnant women increases the risk of preterm delivery, miscarriages, infection in the newborn or even premature death. As per studies, 22% of pre-natal listeriosis cases result in neonatal deaths.
The cases of listeria infection in a pregnant woman are not common. However, pregnant women are more prone to any disease or infection than normal women.
This bacteria cannot survive in temperatures higher than 160 degrees Fahrenheit. That is why it is advised to cook the chicken above this temperature before eating it to eliminate the bacteria. A pregnant woman should only consume well-cooked chicken and avoid consumption of raw or semi-cooked chicken.
Mothers-to-be should also avoid deli meat which is used in the preparation of sandwiches, burgers and other instant food items. This is because there are high chances of contamination of chicken at the time of processing of deli meat.
It is advised to consult your doctor before deciding to include any food item in the dietary plan at the time of pregnancy.