Can Pregnant Women Eat Brussels Sprouts?

It's important to get certain vitamins and minerals in your pregnancy diet, and Brussels sprouts are one way to ingest some of the nutrients you need. They're also safe to eat while you're pregnant, as long as you prepare them properly. In fact, Brussels sprouts are recommended as a food you should add to your pregnancy diet, according to Alex Lluch and Benito Villanueva, authors of "The Complete Pregnancy Guide for Expectant Mothers."

A bowl of sautéed Brussels sprouts with pancetta and olive oil. (Image: Adnanies/iStock/Getty Images)

Vitamins and Minerals

Brussels sprouts are a wise eating choice when you're pregnant because they contain many of the nutrients you and your unborn baby need. A 1/2-cup serving of cooked Brussels sprouts supplies almost 1 milligram of iron, which is about 4 percent of the 27 milligrams of iron you need as part of your daily pregnancy diet. Iron might reduce your chances of delivering your baby prematurely, and it decreases the risk of low birth weight, according to the American Pregnancy Association. That same half cup of Brussels sprouts also delivers 48.4 milligrams of vitamin C, which is more than half of the 80 to 85 milligrams of vitamin C you need on a daily basis. Vitamin C helps you absorb iron and protects tissues from damage.

Birth Defects Prevention

Adding Brussels sprouts to your pregnancy diet will help you increase your intake of folic acid, also called folate. Folic acid is crucial during pregnancy, because it helps your body produce the additional blood you need to support a healthy pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Insufficient intake of folic acid can increase the risk of certain birth defects, such as spina bifida, which occurs when the spinal cord doesn't close properly, and anencephaly, which is severe brain underdevelopment. A 1/2-cup serving of cooked Brussels sprouts contains 47 micrograms of folic acid, which is about 8 percent of the 600 micrograms you need as part of your daily pregnancy diet.

Fiber Is Crucial

The fiber that a serving of Brussels sprouts delivers is another reason why the vegetables are a good part of your pregnancy diet. Fiber is essential for promoting efficient digestion, which helps prevent constipation. About half of all women experience constipation at some point during pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association, and boosting your intake of fiber is one way to help prevent this. Aim to consume between 25 and 30 grams of fiber per day, the American Pregnancy Association recommends. A 1/2-cup serving of Brussels sprouts contains 2 grams of fiber, which is 7 to 8 percent of your daily goal.

Wash Those Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are safe, as long as they're handled and cooked properly. According to the American Pregnancy Association, you must wash all vegetables before eating them because the soil where the vegetables are grown can be contaminated and cause toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can cause premature birth or stillbirth, according to the March of Dimes. Toxoplasmosis can also cause eye disorders, jaundice, brain damage and hearing loss in your unborn baby. Once washed, steam the sprouts for a nutritious side dish or chop them into vegetable soup or salads.

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