Pregnant? Stop before you put that cheesy snack in your mouth

The 411 on cheese you can eat when pregnantFor those of us with a deep love of cheese including those fancy stinky foreign cheeses pregnancy can put a bit of a dampener on our cheese adoration.  Don’t worry, that slice of pizza is probably just fine, but the slice of apple with brie or the salad with Roquefort cheese is out. Confused as to whether you can chow down on mozzarella or inhale camembert? Read on.

What cheeses should I avoid during pregnancy?

Generally you can divide the cheeses you shouldn’t eat into two groups, those soft crumbly blue veined cheeses like Danish blue and gorgonzola and soft cheeses like brie and camembert.
  • Brie
  • Camembert
  • Chevre (a soft goats cheese that often comes in a log like form)
  • Danish blue
  • Gorgonzola
  • Roquefort
  • Queso fresco

But I have an undeniable craving for brie or a blue cheese salad! What should I do?

A baked brie and a pastry crust is a little bit of heaven and it’s a treat you can still enjoy when pregnant! Cooking to 165F should kill any bacteria and make it safe to eat. Can’t live without your gorgonzola sprinkles on your salad, you like cheese with some flavor after all? Try a hard stilton cheese instead.

Just why are some cheeses a no-no during pregnancy?

Soft cheeses tend to contain more listeria bacteria than those that might be present in hard cheeses. Listeria bacteria can cause an infection called listeriosis which pregnant women are at a great risk of getting due to hormonal changes- 13 times more likely. While it might cause merely mild flu-like symptoms in the woman or even no symptoms the impact on the fetus can be significant. If a pregnant woman develops listeriosis it can cause premature delivery, miscarriages and still births. Early treatment with antibiotics may prevent fetal infection. Listeria bacteria is present in other foods.  Alicia Arino, clinical dietitian at TMC, adds “Unpasteurized cheese and milk can also cause Brucellosis (a food borne illness caused by ingestion of raw milk, unpasteurized cheeses, or raw meat) which can have particularly harmful effects during pregnancy.

So what cheeses can I eat?

It’s safe to eat hard cheeses ex.  Gouda, gruyere, parmesan and cheddar and the following soft cheeses are safe as long as they’re made from pasteurized milk: ricotta, cream cheese, cottage cheese, mozzarella, feta and some goat cheeses.
Alicia Arino is a clinical dietitian, board certified lactation consultant and Assistant Manager of Clinical Nutrition at Tucson Medical Center.
 

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