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Is it OK to Eat Hummus When Pregnant?

author image Krista Sheehan
Krista Sheehan is a registered nurse and professional writer. She works in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and her previous nursing experience includes geriatrics, pulmonary disorders and home health care. Her professional writing works focus mainly on the subjects of physical health, fitness, nutrition and positive lifestyle changes.
Is it OK to Eat Hummus When Pregnant?
Although nutritious, hummus could be dangerous during pregnancy. Photo Credit Viktorija Kuprijanova/iStock/Getty Images

During pregnancy, you must be cautious about the types of foods you eat, even if you've eaten them regularly without any problem before getting pregnant. Hummus, a traditional Middle Eastern dish, is a mild flavored, creamy textured soft paste often. used as a dip or spread. Hummus can be a healthier option than many other calorie-laden, high-fat dips. But while there's no question about hummus' nutritional value, there’s some debate regarding its safety during pregnancy.

Great Debate

The BabyCenter website lists hummus as a healthy snack for moms-to-be. But the “Food Safety During Pregnancy” brochure offered by the NSW Food Authority in New South Wales, Australia, labels hummus as a food that should be eaten with caution during pregnancy. And with an even stronger warning, the “Eating for Healthy Pregnant Women” brochure released by the New Zealand government recommends completely avoiding hummus and any sort of tahini dip during pregnancy.

Possible Dangers

Listeriosis, a foodborne illness, is the main point of concern regarding the safety of hummus during pregnancy. Although the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria is harmless to most healthy adults, it can cause serious illness in older adults, pregnant women, newborns and anyone with a weakened immune system. During pregnancy, your immune system doesn't respond as vigorously to threats. This is a protective mechanism that keeps your body from rejecting your growing fetus.

Symptoms and Prevention

If a pregnant woman consumes food contaminated with the Listeria bacteria, she might only experience mild flu-like symptoms. However, the infection could easily result in miscarriage, premature delivery, stillbirth or a serious infection in the newborn. If you do choose to eat hummus during pregnancy, store it in the fridge and eat within two days of making or opening it.

Nutritional Benefits

Hummus can be an extremely healthy snack during pregnancy, as long as you consume it safely. The two main ingredients in hummus -- chickpeas and tahini -- are rich in protein and calcium. Chickpeas are rich in fiber and low in fat, making them heart-healthy. Hummus also contains olive oil -- high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats -- and garlic and lemon juice, both of which are high in antioxidants. Hummus is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, iron, folic acid, copper, manganese and vitamin B-6. rather than buying commercially prepared hummus, consider making your own, to reduce the worries about bacterial contamination.

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