Many times people have asked, Can you eat beef jerky while pregnant? The simple answer is no, you should avoid eating beef jerky while pregnant. Jerky often contains nitrites from curing salts, which have been connected to high blood pressure and the risk of birth defects in the unborn baby.
Certain types of meat products, like deli meats, lunch meat, and raw meat, can be unsafe for pregnant women because of the risk of a foodborne illness from harmful bacteria, such as salmonella or listeria, also known as food poisoning.
The reason that beef jerky is considered hazardous to your baby’s health and your own is that the meat used to make the product is raw. Raw meat may contain harmful microorganisms, and harmful bacteria such as salmonella and e-coli, which can lead to potential illness for both you and the child you’re carrying.
Traditional meat cooking usually involves a high temperature, and then monitoring the uncooked meat until it reaches a safe internal temperature, utilizing your food thermometer. Bottom line is that at the end, you know you have a safe product.
Can Beef Jerky Harm My Unborn Child?
Yes, it contains nitrates. In large enough quantities, it is believed to be carcinogenic and is found in processed meats like cold cuts, hot dogs, slim jims, dried meat products, chipped beef, and other meats that have undergone the dehydration process, just like beef jerky.
Meat preserved with nitrates has been linked to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease. The risk may be high if you consume them on a regular basis. This is why pregnant women and people who are trying to conceive should avoid beef jerky because it really can harm the baby.
Nitrates may increase the risk of cancer of the colon, pancreas, esophagus, and stomach. Moreover, nitrates also affect blood pressure and cardiovascular dysfunction.
Risk of Increased Blood Pressure
The risk of having high blood pressure in pregnancy is much higher than usual as well. This is because nitrates can cause your blood pressure to rise when your body needs more salt or sodium to function properly.
Furthermore, it can also affect your blood cholesterol. If you have hypertension, your doctor will advise you to avoid all processed meats because they have a high salt content.
Nitrates are not the only thing that beef jerky contains; it also contains sodium nitrite, which can increase the risk of certain types of cancer. According to medical experts, however, there is no evidence linking these two types of nitrites found in beef jerky to cancer development.
Nevertheless, there are some studies that suggest that nitrates can increase the risk of miscarriages and may cause stillbirths in pregnant women. This is usually from a large exposure to nitrates, and not usually from consuming a moderate amount of beef jerky.
10 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Eating Beef Jerky While Pregnant
1. Beef Jerky Contains Salty and Fatty Ingredients
Times have changed, but many people are still not aware of the fact that beef jerky is high in fat and salt. Meat has also been preserved in nitrites, which may be carcinogenic. This means if you want to prevent your baby from getting cancer and heart disease, this is not a food that you should eat while pregnant.
2. Contains Nitrates
Nitrates are a type of carcinogen found in some processed meats. They are commonly used to preserve the meat, so you should avoid beef jerky while pregnant because it contains nitrates in its ingredients. The increased risk of cancer is high even if there is no evidence linking the two together.
3. It Has Been Linked to an Increased Risk of Cancer
According to some studies, the increased risk of cancer may be higher if you consume beef jerky while pregnant. This means that you should avoid it because it may increase the risk of cancer development in your body.
4. Beef Jerky Can Lead to Various Diseases
You should know that there are many health risks associated with beef jerky. One of them is hypertension, which can put you at risk of heart disease and stroke. Another one is stroke, which may cause brain damage and lead to disability or death. These diseases can be dangerous for both you and your baby if you choose to eat this snack.
5. Can Lead to Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are a common condition among pregnant women. Some women also have it in their family, so they are more susceptible to developing them. The cause of varicose veins is poor circulation due to the strenuous activities that you do. One of the main causes of varicose veins is too much salt intake, which can cause high blood pressure in your body. This will affect your circulatory system and lead to varicose veins, especially in the lower part of your body.
6. Beef Jerky Increases the Chances of Miscarriage
If you are not aware of the fact that beef jerky has a lot of salt and preservatives, you may end up eating too much of it. The excess salt and salty foods can cause dehydration in your body. This can be dangerous for both you and your baby, especially if you are pregnant, because it can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.
7. It Can Cause Blood Clotting Problems
For a lot of people, meat is their favorite snack. However, this is not the best thing for your health because it contains a lot of preservatives and fats that can lead to blood clotting problems.
8. Can Lead to Dehydration
For pregnant women, dehydration may be one of the most common health issues that they face. This is because most doctors recommend that a pregnant woman drink more water. The excess amount of salt and preservatives in beef jerky can cause dehydration and make you feel thirsty.
9. Can Lead to Premature Birth
When pregnant, you can gain a lot of weight, which could be harmful to your baby if you gain too much weight during pregnancy. One of the common complications that pregnant women face is premature birth. One cause of this is the excessive amount of weight gained during pregnancy. Therefore, it is best to avoid eating beef jerky while pregnant, even though you may have pregnancy cravings.
10. It Is Not Good for Your Skin
If you have sensitive skin, this may not be good news for you because beef jerky contains preservatives, which can cause your skin to get rashes. If this is the case, beef jerky may not be safe for you to eat.
When Can You Eat Beef Jerky After Pregnancy?
If you do not want to forgo beef jerky completely, you should avoid eating it until you give birth. This is because after childbirth, your body will adjust to breastfeeding and it is safe for your baby.
One concern about cured dry sausages, dehydrated red meat, and deli meats is listeria bacteria. Having said that, listeria does not pass through breast milk.
Those who are at the highest risk of listeria are pregnant women and their babies, individuals 65 and older, and people with compromised immune systems. Others can contract Listeria, but they seldom become very ill as a result of the listeria infection.
Even though it is not advisable for pregnant women, there are times when you can eat it after childbirth to satisfy your jerky cravings. For example, if you are breastfeeding, you can eat beef jerky once in a while as long as your doctor approves of it. Always check with the doctor before eating anything questionable.
Healthy Snacks for Pregnancy
Although beef jerky is generally a healthy snack, there are some alternatives that you can consider while you are pregnant. You can try to eat other snacks because these alternatives are good for your health. Some of these snacks include:
- Green Leafy Vegetables – Beef jerky may contain a lot of fat, but vegetables do not contain such fat. Meat is good for your metabolism because it boosts the rate of digestion in your body. However, vegetables are a great alternative because they cannot boost your metabolism and they contain only water. This means that you will not gain too much weight.
- Fruit – Beef jerky can raise the risk of heartburn among pregnant women, but fruit is completely different. For example, you can eat apples if you are pregnant, and you should also eat pineapple because this fruit is also good for your health and it does not have a lot of calories or fat. A good idea is to wash fruits to help avoid any chemicals or foodborne illnesses.
- Cheese – Although a lot of people do not consider cheese a good snack, it is actually good for you. You can try to eat cheese in moderation so that you do not gain too much weight. Be careful if some varieties contain preservatives because they may cause damage to your body.
- Soft Cheeses – To be safe for pregnant women, most soft cheeses must be made with milk that has been pasteurized. That also applies to hard cheeses made from pasteurised milk, like American, cream cheeses, cottage, and cheddar cheese, Hard cheeses are usually safe for pregnant women to eat.
- Nuts and Seeds – Beef jerky is good for your metabolism and digestion, but nuts and seeds are also good for your health and great for pregnant women. If you are going to a party or a picnic with friends, you can bring some nuts or seeds and eat them instead.
Final Thoughts – Can You Eat Beef Jerky While Pregnant
Beef jerky is not bad for you, but you should avoid eating it if you are pregnant. If you really want to eat it, you should get the doctor’s permission before doing so because he can advise you on whether it’s the right thing for you to do, given your circumstances.
So, to answer the question: Can you eat beef jerky while pregnant? If the doctor permits you to eat this snack, try to do so only in moderate quantities. I’m sure it would be difficult to have just a bite of jerky, but definitely don’t overdose on it, either!