Do you know which foods to avoid when you're pregnant? (2023)

Pregnancy nutrition: Foods to avoid during pregnancy

More foods can affect your health or your baby's than you might realize. Find out what foods to avoid during pregnancy.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You want what's best for your baby. That's why you add sliced fruit to your fortified breakfast cereal, top your salads with chickpeas and snack on almonds. But do you know what foods to avoid during pregnancy? Here's help understanding pregnancy nutrition basics.

Avoid seafood high in mercury

Seafood can be a great source of protein, and the omega-3 fatty acids in many fish can promote your baby's brain and eye development. However, some fish and shellfish contain potentially dangerous levels of mercury. Too much mercury could harm your baby's developing nervous system.

The bigger and older the fish, the more mercury it's likely to contain. During pregnancy, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages you to avoid:

  • Bigeye tuna
  • King mackerel
  • Marlin
  • Orange roughy
  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • Tilefish

So what's safe? Some types of seafood contain little mercury. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 8 to 12 ounces (224 to 336 grams) — two or three servings — of seafood a week during pregnancy. Consider:

  • Anchovies
  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Herring
  • Light canned tuna
  • Pacific oysters
  • Pollock
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Shad
  • Shrimp
  • Tilapia
  • Trout

However, limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces (168 grams) a week.

(Video) 21 foods to avoid when pregnant: dietitian reveals

Avoid raw, undercooked or contaminated seafood

To avoid harmful bacteria or viruses in seafood:

  • Avoid raw fish and shellfish. Examples of raw or undercooked foods to avoid include sushi, sashimi, ceviche and raw oysters, scallops or clams.
  • Avoid refrigerated, uncooked seafood. Examples include seafood labeled nova style, lox, kippered, smoked or jerky. It's OK to eat smoked seafood if it's an ingredient in a casserole or other cooked dish. Canned and shelf-stable versions also are safe.
  • Understand local fish advisories. If you eat fish from local waters, pay attention to local fish advisories — especially if water pollution is a concern. If you are uncertain about the safety of fish you have already eaten, don't eat any other fish that week.
  • Cook seafood properly. Cook fish to an internal temperature of 145 F (63 C). Fish is done when it separates into flakes and appears opaque throughout. Cook shrimp, lobster and scallops until they're milky white. Cook clams, mussels and oysters until their shells open. Discard any that don't open.

Avoid undercooked meat, poultry and eggs

During pregnancy, you're at increased risk of bacterial food poisoning. Your reaction might be more severe than if you weren't pregnant. Rarely, food poisoning affects the baby, too.

To prevent foodborne illness:

  • Fully cook all meats and poultry before eating. Use a meat thermometer to make sure.
  • Cook hot dogs and luncheon meats until they're steaming hot — or avoid them completely. They can be sources of a rare but potentially serious foodborne illness known as a listeria infection.
  • Avoid refrigerated pates and meat spreads. Canned and shelf-stable versions, however, are OK.
  • Cook eggs until the egg yolks and whites are firm. Raw eggs can be contaminated with harmful bacteria. Avoid foods made with raw or partially cooked eggs, such as eggnog, raw batter, and freshly made or homemade hollandaise sauce, and Caesar salad dressing.

Avoid unpasteurized foods

Many low-fat dairy products — such as skim milk, mozzarella cheese and cottage cheese — can be a healthy part of your diet. Anything containing unpasteurized milk, however, is a no-no. These products could lead to foodborne illness.

Avoid soft cheeses, such as brie, feta and blue cheese, unless they are clearly labeled as being pasteurized or made with pasteurized milk. Also, avoid drinking unpasteurized juice.

Avoid unwashed fruits and vegetables

To eliminate any harmful bacteria, thoroughly wash all raw fruits and vegetables. Avoid raw sprouts of any kind — including alfalfa, clover, radish and mung bean — which also might contain disease-causing bacteria. Be sure to cook sprouts thoroughly.

Avoid excess caffeine

While caffeine can cross the placenta, the effects on your baby aren't clear. To be safe, your health care provider might recommend avoiding or limiting the amount of caffeine in your diet to less than 200 milligrams (mg) a day during pregnancy.

For perspective, an 8-ounce (240-milliliters, or mL) cup of brewed coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine, an 8-ounce (240-mL) cup of brewed tea contains about 47 mg and a 12-ounce (360-mL) caffeinated cola contains about 33 mg.

(Video) Top 10 Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Avoid herbal tea

There's little data on the effects of specific herbs on developing babies. As a result, avoid drinking herbal tea unless your health care provider says it's OK — even the types of herbal tea marketed specifically for pregnancy to pregnant women.

Avoid alcohol

No level of alcohol has been proved safe during pregnancy. The safest bet is to avoid alcohol entirely.

Consider the risks. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy leads to a higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Drinking alcohol may also result in fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause facial deformities and intellectual disability.

If you're concerned about alcohol you drank before you knew you were pregnant or you think you need help to stop drinking, consult your health care provider.

From Mayo Clinic to your inbox

Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

(Video) First Month Pregnancy Diet - Foods to Eat and Avoid

Jan. 22, 2022

(Video) 15 Foods to Improve Baby's Brain During Pregnancy - Pregnancy Foods for Intelligent Baby

  1. Prenatal care. Office on Women's Health. Accessed Jan. 6, 2022.
  2. Meat poultry and seafood from food safety for moms to be. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed Jan. 6, 2022.
  3. Selecting and serving fresh and frozen seafood safely. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed Jan. 6, 2022.
  4. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. Accessed Jan. 6, 2022.
  5. 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Accessed Jan. 6, 2022.
  6. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Committee Opinion No. 462: Moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2010; doi:10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181eeb2a1. Reaffirmed 2020.
  7. Listeria (listeriosis): Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed Jan. 06, 2022.
  8. Alcohol. MotherToBaby. Accessed Jan. 06, 2022.
  9. Advice about eating fish: For those who might become or are pregnant or breastfeeding and children ages 1-11 years. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed Jan. 6, 2022.
  10. Salmonella and eggs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed Jan. 6, 2022.
  11. Landon MB, et al., eds. Preconception and prenatal care. In: Gabbe's Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 8th ed. Elsevier; 2021. Accessed Jan. 6, 2022.
  12. Landon MB, et al., eds. Nutrition during pregnancy. In: Gabbe's Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 8th ed. Elsevier; 2021. Accessed Jan. 6, 2022.
  13. Questions and answers from the FDA/EPA: Advice about eating fish for those who might become or are pregnant or breastfeeding and children ages 1 to 11 years. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed Jan. 6, 2022.

See more In-depth

See also

  1. Air travel during pregnancy
  2. Allergy medications during pregnancy
  3. Ankle swelling during pregnancy
  4. Antibiotics and pregnancy
  5. Aspirin during pregnancy
  6. Pregnancy back pain
  7. Falling during pregnancy: Reason to worry?
  8. Flu shot in pregnancy
  9. Headaches during pregnancy: What's the best treatment?
  10. Iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy: Prevention tips
  11. Kratom and pregnancy: Not a safe mix
  12. Leg cramps during pregnancy
  13. Placenta
  14. Pregnancy acne
  15. Pregnancy and exercise
  16. Pregnancy and fish
  17. Pregnancy basics
  18. Pregnancy constipation
  19. Pregnancy diet: Essential nutrients
  20. Pregnancy due date calculator
  21. Pregnancy weight gain
  22. Pregnant. Now What Happens?
  23. Prenatal testing
  24. Prenatal vitamins and pregnancy
  25. Prenatal yoga
  26. Sex during pregnancy
  27. Sleep during pregnancy
  28. Vegetable recipes
  29. Fetal ultrasound
  30. Twin pregnancy
  31. Vaccines during pregnancy
  32. Vaping during pregnancy
  33. Fetal ultrasound
  34. Working during pregnancy
  35. X-ray during pregnancy



1. 5 Fruits to Avoid During Pregnancy
(FirstCry Parenting)
2. 12 Foods That Can Cause Miscarriage in Early Pregnancy
(FirstCry Parenting)
3. So you're pregnant, now what?! OB/GYN Advice for a safe and healthy pregnancy
(The Doctors Bjorkman)
4. 9 Foods You Should Avoid in Pregnancy | Fruits to Be Avoided During Pregnancy
5. 6 Fruits That You Should Not Eat During Pregnancy | Fruits To Be Avoided During Pregnancy
6. The First Trimester - Precautions, Do's and Don'ts | Dr Anjali Kumar | Maitri
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Greg O'Connell

Last Updated: 02/18/2023

Views: 5429

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (62 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Greg O'Connell

Birthday: 1992-01-10

Address: Suite 517 2436 Jefferey Pass, Shanitaside, UT 27519

Phone: +2614651609714

Job: Education Developer

Hobby: Cooking, Gambling, Pottery, Shooting, Baseball, Singing, Snowboarding

Introduction: My name is Greg O'Connell, I am a delightful, colorful, talented, kind, lively, modern, tender person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.