In general, eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables during your pregnancy is a good thing. You need the vitamins, minerals and fiber they provide. Plus, opting for unprocessed, "whole" foods is generally a healthier choice overall. There are no specific types of fruit pregnant women are advised to avoid, but there are still some categories to keep a watchful eye on.
The outer surface of raw fruit can harbor harmful bacteria such as listeria, which can cause devastating complications in pregnant women. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to develop listeriosis than non-pregnant women, probably because your immune system function less effectively during pregnancy, the American Pregnancy Association explains. Other pathogens such as E. coli are of lesser danger but still serious threats to both you and your fetus. Heat will kill these organisms, so cooked fruit is generally safe. If you're not going to cook it, wash your fruit with soap and water to eliminate surface bacteria; scrub firm fruits like melon with a brush. Refrigerating fruit won't prevent the growth of listeria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions.
The data on the danger of pesticide residues on fruit and vegetables to pregnant women is still skimpy. Nonetheless, if you're at all worried, choose organic fruit over conventionally grown produce. According to The Environmental Working Group, the fruits with the most pesticides are peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, cherries, grapes and pears.
Like unwashed whole fruit, unpasteurized fruit juice can be a vector for foodborne pathogens such as salmonella, cryptosporidium and E. coli. When juice is pasteurized, it's heated to a temperature that kills any pathogens present. If you're worried that this process also reduces the vitamin and mineral content of your juice, you have another choice: juice your own fruit and drink it right away. Remember to wash your fruit first.
High-acid fruit such as pineapple, cranberries and all citrus fruits including lemons, limes, oranges and tangerines aren't likely to pose any serious health dangers in pregnant women. However, you may still wish to avoid them if you are experiencing any symptoms of heartburn or reflux, a common concern during pregnancy. Acidic foods can aggravate these symptoms.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Listeriosis
- The Daily Green: The Dirty Dozen -- Twelve Foods to Eat Organic
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Preventing Health Risks Associated with Drinking Unpasteurized or Untreated Juice
- American Pregnancy Association: Listeria and Pregnancy