Foods to Avoid during PregnancyDuring pregnancy it is important to maintain a healthy diet. Eating for two can have it challenges. There are five types of foods that Health Canada recommends should be avoid.

Top 5 Foods to Avoid during Pregnancy

Unpasteurized cheese

Including  feta, Brie, Camembert, fresh mozzarella, gorgonzola, Limburger, queso blanco, and queso fresco).

Like raw milk, unpasteurized soft cheese carries the risk of Listeria contamination. Listeria infection can cause  blood infection, meningitis, and other serious and potentially life-threatening complications.

Raw sprouts

Such as alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts.

Before the sprouts are even grown, bacteria can get into the sprout seeds through cracks in the shell and since sprouts generally aren’t cooked before eating, there’s no way to kill the bacteria. Listeriosis can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, and life-threatening infections in newborns. Salmonella and E. coli can cause serious illness and can even be fatal.

High-mercury seafood

Including shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.

The body easily absorbs methylmercury from fish – and when you’re pregnant, methylmercury crosses the placenta. Many studies have shown that exposure even to lose doses of methylmercury during pregnancy can impair a baby’s growing brain and nervous system.

Deli meats

Such as bologna, roast beef and turkey breast.

Listeria contamination a threat with refrigerated deli meats. These aren’t safe unless you heat them to steaming before you eat them. Listeriosis can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, and life-threatening infections in newborns. Salmonella and E. coli can cause serious illness and can even be fatal.

Raw or lightly cooked eggs

Including egg products that contain raw eggs, including some salad dressings, cookie dough, cake batter, sauces, and drinks.

Salmonellosis can lead to health complications during pregnancy: Dehydration, meningitis, bacteremia (bacteria in the blood), reactive arthritis and can be passed to the baby causing infections.

Do not eat these foods when you are pregnant:

• Raw fish and food made with raw fish (for example, sushi).
• Fish liver oil.
• Raw seafood such as oysters and clams.
• Undercooked meat, poultry, and seafood.
• Unheated hotdogs and deli meats.
• Patés, meat spreads, smoked seafood, and fish products that are not in a can.
• Foods made with raw eggs, or that contain eggs that are not fully cooked.
• Unpasteurized milk and foods made from unpasteurized milk.
• Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk such as brie, camembert,
feta, goat cheese, queso blanco, and blue cheese.
• Juices that are not pasteurized, such as unpasteurized apple cider.
• Raw sprouts, especially alfalfa sprouts and bean sprouts.
• Fish that is high in mercury
• Do not eat more than 1 serving (75g) of liver every 2 weeks.

Health Canada recommends three essential nutrients during pregnancy.


Folate benefits the baby by helping to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Folate is essential to the normal development of the spine, brain and skull of the fetus, especially during the first four weeks of pregnancy. It is recommended that during pregnancy, each day one consumes at least 400mcg of folic acid.

Folate helps baby grow a healthy brain and spine. Makes healthy blood for you and your baby.
Take a multivitamin with folic acid in it, every day. Some need more folic acid than others. Always talk to your health care provider.

Foods rich in folic acid include lentils, salad greens, spinach, broccoli, breads, corn and grains.


Iron supports normal brain development in the fetus. In the third trimester of pregnancy, the fetus builds iron stores for the first six months of life. Iron makes healthy blood for you and your baby. Eating these foods along with foods high in vitamin C will help your body use iron. Foods high in vitamin C include tomatoes, oranges, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, kiwi, and peppers.

During pregnancy it is important for a pregnant individual to consume 27 milligrams of iron per day.

Red meats including beef are sources of iron. Peanut butter, eggs and fish are also a good sources of iron.


Omega-3 fatty acids are transferred across the placenta and play an important role in the growth and development the growing fetal brain and other tissues. It is recommended that each week a pregnancy person consumes 150 grams of omega-3.

Omega-3 can be found in salmon, cod and omega-3 enriched eggs.  For vegans and vegetarians, alternative sources include chia seeds, kidney beans, hemp seeds and walnuts.

Food Safety

Food handling and safety is important when pregnant.

Follow these tips:

  • Wash your hands before, during, and after you handle food.
  • Wash the skin of all raw vegetables and fruit well.
  • Cook meat, poultry, seafood, fish, and eggs well. Hot dogs and deli meats should be heated until steaming hot.
  • Check “best before” dates on food packages. Do not eat the food after that date has passed.

Always check with your healthcare provider if you have questions about what foods you should eat and those to avoid.

Padma Yogi offers drop in prenatal and postnatal yoga classes each week. To learn more about our classes and to see our schedule, click here.