Indian Food In Pregnancy Is Safe Or Not
Indian food, known for the generous use of spices and its vegetarian bend, is widely believed to provide numerous health benefits. However, it is quite natural for expectant mothers to wonder if is safe to eat Indian food in pregnancy, given the zillion ingredients that go into making the delectable curries and stews. Well, pure common sense would say it is safe. After all, the Indians have been eating it for centuries and it happens to be the 2nd most populous nation in the world!
However, like any other cuisine there are both good and bad foods that one must be aware of when indulging into the spicy curries, stews, and pilafs. Read on to know, which Indian food is safe and what must be avoided or restricted during those precious 9 months….
- Amla Ka Murabba: A jam prepared from Indian gooseberries, it is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C and several B vitamins essential for healthy fetal growth. Traditionally it is prepared using jaggery or molasses, which is rich in iron – again an essential nutrient during pregnancy.
- Curd Rice: Regularly consumed in South India, it is a very simple preparation made by mixing soft cooked rice with fresh yogurt and salt. One may add chopped green peppers, cilantro, and tempering for added taste. Curd rice is rich in carbohydrates, protein, and probiotics. Being quite bland, it is considered as the perfect meal for women suffering from morning sickness during the early weeks of pregnancy and heartburn during the latter weeks of pregnancy.
- Kheer: It is a milk based sweet prepared by adding sweetener along with an adjunct to condensed milk. A variety of adjuncts can be added, including rice, broken wheat, dry fruits, nuts, coconut, fruits, etc. During pregnancy, date syrup or molasses is used as the sweetener. Kheer is a rich source of proteins, essential fats, carbohydrates, iron, and folic acid.
- Coconut based stews: Coconuts are a rich source of essential fatty acids and MUFA – essential for growth and development of fetal brain. Coconut based stews (commonly consumed in Southern states of India) are prepared by cooking a variety of vegetables or meat in coconut milk, mild spices (like cinnamon, cloves, and mace), Indian green peppers, curry leaves, and tempering. These stews are rich in anti-oxidants, phyto nutrients, and trace nutrients required for overall development of the fetus.
- Thepla: This is whole wheat based unleavened bread (roti) from Western Indian cuisine. These rotis are prepared from soft whole-wheat dough mixed with chopped fenugreek or spinach leaves. Mild spices like cumin seeds and Indian green peppers may be added. Theplas are rich in fiber (essential to prevent or relieve one from constipation), folic acid, and proteins. During pregnancy it is served with a spoonful of ghee (clarified butter), which adds the much needed calories and essential fatty acids to the diet.
Indian foods to be avoided during pregnancy
- Raw papaya salad: It is a common condiment used in Western India. Raw papaya contains an enzyme papain, which is purported to cause miscarriage in the early months of pregnancy.
- Mutton and/or egg curries: Curries as such are good for health. However, the high level of spiciness can cause heartburn and nausea in many women. Moreover, traditionally mutton and egg is restricted in a pregnant lady’s diet due to the high risk of food borne infections involved.
- Besan and Chana: Known as horse gram or Bengal gram, this lentil is known to cause flatulence and heartburn during pregnancy. Dhokla, cheela, khandvi, and ladoo are some of the common besan based dishes. Several of the chats use whole chana as well.
- Mango: Indians believe in the principal of hot and cold foods. Hot foods including mango, sesame, fenugreek seeds, and fresh dates are believed to cause contractions. Hence, they are avoided or restricted during the early pregnancy months.
- Eggplant curries: Bhaingan ka bharta, yengayee, and vango bhat are some of the popular eggplant curries. Eggplants are believed to cause miscarriages or pre term births and hence best avoided.
Thus, consuming Indian food in pregnancy is not contraindicated. However, one must practice caution and choose the right Indian foods during pregnancy.