Is It Safe to Eat Eggs During Pregnancy?
Posted on: April 12th 2022
Being pregnant requires you to consider things you may have never given a second thought to before. One of these things is most likely your diet. After a lifetime of eating solely for yourself, you are now eating for two. This adjustment makes you think about how the food you consume will affect both you and your baby.
Specifically, you may be wondering whether it is safe to eat eggs during pregnancy. With so many rumors circulating about the nutritional value of eggs, the potential danger of foodborne illness from raw eggs, and egg-related food safety practices, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. We’ll help you sort through the facts and determine whether eggs are a good choice for your prenatal diet.
The good news is, there are several ways you can safely consume this nutrient-dense food while pregnant. Discover the advantages of eating eggs while pregnant, how to properly prepare your eggs, what types of egg-based foods to avoid, and some extra food safety tips for handling eggs correctly.
Is It Safe to Eat Eggs While Pregnant?
Being aware of what you eat is especially important when you’re pregnant. For the sake of both your baby’s and your own health, you’ll want to be extra careful about your diet during pregnancy. Usually, our bodies can handle the bacteria naturally found in food fairly well without any ill effects. However, pregnant women have a weaker immune system than usual, meaning consuming certain foods has a greater chance of causing significant harm.
If you’re a mom-to-be, your doctor will most likely supply you with a list of food to avoid throughout your pregnancy. This list will probably include unpasteurized foods, along with certain raw or undercooked foods like rare steak. Raw and unpasteurized foods are at a far higher risk of carrying dangerous bacteria that could give you food poisoning or infection.
Although you should not include raw eggs in your pregnancy diet, you don’t need to avoid eggs altogether. Both cooking and pasteurizing eggs can eliminate any potentially harmful bacteria they may contain, such as salmonella. As long as your eggs are prepared safely and cooked all the way through, it is fine to consume eggs during your pregnancy.
Whether you choose to eat fried, scrambled, or hard-boiled eggs during pregnancy, you can feel free to enjoy them whenever you’re craving them as long as you cook them enough to minimize the risk of foodborne illness. In fact, incorporating cooked eggs into your regular pregnancy diet comes with a range of health advantages. In the following section, you’ll learn why eating eggs is an important part of maintaining a balanced diet.
7 Benefits of Eating Eggs While Pregnant
Because eggs offer a wide variety of important vitamins and minerals, eating eggs during the first trimester of pregnancy and beyond can have numerous positive effects. In fact, consistently consuming eggs throughout your pregnancy fits well within dietary guidelines and can boost both your baby’s and your own health.
Discover the top seven benefits of eating eggs during pregnancy and the essential nutrients that eggs can provide.
1. Healthy Brain Development
Eggs contain a nutrient called choline, which is essential for the brain’s growth and overall development. Choline is a close relative of the B vitamins and offers similar benefits as B vitamins. Like folate, choline fosters normal brain development and prevents neural tube defects. Specifically, choline is necessary for fetal brain development and tissue expansion processes such as synthesizing cell membranes.
Alongside promoting healthy brain development and minimizing the risk of adverse birth outcomes, choline can positively influence cognitive development in infants. Unfortunately, the majority of women do not reach the target choline intake of 450 mg per day. As one of the top choline-containing foods, eggs can play an important role in providing a pregnant woman with enough choline.
2. Valuable Source of DHA
Eggs are also high in one of the specific omega-3 fatty acids known as DHA. Docosa hexaenoic acid (DHA) works closely with choline to enhance brain development and encourage healthy cognitive functioning. This omega-3 fat is also associated with a higher IQ score in infants. Aside from raw fish and other seafood, eggs are one of the few foods that contain a notable amount of this nutrient, making them a great addition to a prenatal diet.
3. Rich Source of Vitamin D
Consuming eggs also provides pregnant women with a good source of vitamin D. Eggs can serve as a suitable vitamin D alternative for women who are lactose intolerant and can’t consume milk products. However you choose to consume vitamin D, it is crucial for expecting mothers to get enough of the vitamin because pregnant and breastfeeding women need higher doses of vitamin D than nonpregnant women.
Vitamin D is key for helping the body carry out many aspects of health, including:
- Promoting fetal development.
- Maintaining strong, healthy bones.
- Boosting immune function.
Keep in mind that most vitamin D in eggs is concentrated in their yolks, making it important to eat the entire egg rather than just the egg white.
4. Good Source of Vitamins A, E, and K
Along with vitamin D, eggs contain the other fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and K. While all these vitamins are critical to maintaining proper functions and healthy growth, vitamin A is especially essential for expecting mothers. Vitamin A supports the normal growth and development of the heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, and other organs in the fetus.
The National Institutes of Health has said pregnant women need to get extra vitamin A into their diets to both support fetal growth and tissue maintenance. Getting the right amount of vitamin A also helps women maintain their own metabolism, which is particularly crucial while pregnant. Eggs are a dependable source of vitamin A in its ready-to-use form that the body’s tissues can absorb quickly.
5. Plenty of Protein
As the building blocks of the cell, proteins are necessary for facilitating fetal development. In fact, women’s daily protein needs increase considerably when in the third trimester of pregnancy. Eggs are an excellent food for meeting these needs because they are a complete protein, meaning eggs provide all the nine essential amino acids in a highly bioavailable form. Because of this nutritional value, eating eggs during the third trimester of pregnancy can be extremely beneficial. Eating two eggs a day during pregnancy can help you get the protein and nutrition you need.
The high amount of protein found in eggs can also help alleviate common pregnancy symptoms, such as frequent food cravings, low energy, and rapid weight gain. Studies have found that those who have eggs for breakfast eat less throughout the day and experience fewer cravings. Eating eggs helps pregnant women feel more full and satisfied throughout the day while stabilizing their energy levels.
6. Better Regulated Cholesterol
Although cholesterol has gotten a bad reputation, research has found that cholesterol is not the cause of chronic illnesses like heart disease. Contrary to former beliefs, excessive dietary carbohydrates are more closely linked to cardiovascular disease than cholesterol. Because the cholesterol found in eggs is a good form of cholesterol, HDL, eating an egg has almost no effect on blood cholesterol levels.
Far from being inherently bad, cholesterol plays a critical role in helping the body build cells and fostering normal neural function. About 23% of the cholesterol in our bodies can be found in the brain, making it crucial for pregnant women to consume enough cholesterol to help their babies develop a healthy brain. As long as a pregnant person does not already have cholesterol issues, they can eat eggs routinely.
7. An Abundance of Other Nutrients
In addition to the vitamins and nutrients mentioned above, eggs are rich in many other nutrients. In particular, eggs contain two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, that are imperative for healthy eye and vision development. Both of these antioxidants accumulate in the eye’s retina. Lutein has even been detected in fetal eye tissue in utero and seems to be especially important for proper vision development.
The trace minerals found in eggs offer other health advantages as well. The two most significant trace minerals eggs contain are iodine and selenium. Iodine is key to maintaining normal thyroid function throughout a pregnancy and supports the baby’s brain development. Selenium also assists a woman’s thyroid during pregnancy while simultaneously fostering healthy liver function so her body can safely and efficiently handle the toxins it is naturally exposed to in the environment.
Eggs are also packed with other essential nutrients, including vitamin B12 and iron, which helps pregnant women maintain their energy levels. Together, lutein, zeaxanthin, iodine, selenium, vitamin B12, iron, and all the other nutrients found in eggs promote a healthy pregnancy. Prenatal consumption of eggs is a great way of ensuring your body receives adequate amounts of these extra nutrients.
How to Cook and Eat Your Eggs While Pregnant
Now that you are familiar with all the health benefits eggs have to offer moms-to-be, you might want to start incorporating eggs into your diet more frequently. A healthy breakfast, perhaps involving some whole-grain bread and a few well-cooked eggs, can be the perfect way to incorporate plenty of crucial nutrients into your prenatal diet. If you’re ready to become a routine egg-eater, make sure you know how to cook eggs the right way. While eggs are an extremely versatile food that can be cooked in many ways, certain methods of cooking eggs are safer than others for pregnant women.
The most important egg preparation practice to follow while pregnant is cooking your eggs through. While many egg-cooking techniques involve thoroughly cooking the egg, others only partially cooking the egg and leaving the remaining portions of the egg in a raw state. If you are expecting, it’s recommended that you avoid any method of cooking eggs in which some of the egg remains raw.
Popular styles of eggs that involve thoroughly cooking the eggs until they are firm include:
Follow these egg safety tips to ensure you do not accidentally eat anything raw while pregnant:
- Cook your eggs thoroughly until both the whites and the yolks are firm.
- Cook fried eggs for two or three minutes on each side, or cook them in a covered pan for four minutes.
- When making scrambled eggs, always cook them until they are firm throughout and do not appear moist or slimy.
- Check that a hard-boiled egg has a cooked center by cutting it in half before eating it.
- Make sure that the egg portion of your omelet is thoroughly cooked before adding your other ingredients.
- Always make sure that the center of your eggs is no longer runny before removing them from the heat.
In addition to following the safety tips above, make sure you avoid eating eggs that are prepared with a runny yolk. The soft styles of cooked egg that it’s recommended pregnant women avoid include:
- Over easy
- Sunny-side up
Common Foods With Uncooked Eggs That You Should Avoid
A large part of practicing food safety while pregnant is avoiding any foods that contain undercooked eggs. Certain recipes are made with eggs that are intentionally lightly cooked. Typically, these types of food are perfectly fine to eat. However, you may want to play it extra safe when pregnant.
Specifically, do your best to avoid eating or tasting foods that could contain raw or undercooked egg, such as:
- Raw cookie dough
- Homemade salad dressings that contain egg, such as Caesar salad dressing
- Eggnog and other egg-fortified drinks that are not thoroughly cooked
- Homemade mayonnaise
- Fresh-made sauces made with raw eggs, such as hollandaise sauce, bearnaise sauce, and aioli
- Raw batter or fillings for desserts
- Homemade ice cream
- Chicken, duck, goose, or quail eggs that do not have solid yolks or whites
Don’t worry if this list seems limiting — most of the items above are acceptable to eat if bought at the store. Most commercial dressings, mayonnaise, sauces, and desserts are made with pasteurized eggs that are safe to eat. Eggs and dairy products labeled as “pasteurized” have gone through a special process of being heated enough to kill harmful bacteria.
Whenever you go grocery shopping, check the labels of your food items to make sure they contain pasteurized eggs. If they are marked as pasteurized, go ahead and put them in the cart.
Tips For Safely Eating Eggs During Pregnancy
If you are ready to start working more eggs into your diet and receiving all the nutritional benefits eggs have to offer, make sure you first know how to handle eggs safely. During pregnancy, food safety is paramount, and you can never be too careful when dealing with raw eggs. Handling eggs with the appropriate amount of caution will help you avoid harmful bacteria.
Before whipping up a batch of scrambled eggs, check out the top five tips for safely eating eggs below.
1. Choose the Right Eggs
When shopping for eggs, you want to be selective. Look for a carton of eggs stored in a hygienic place, such as the refrigerated section, to ensure the eggs aren’t prone to contamination. Most major brands have a certification mark on the carton to indicate that the eggs are free of bacteria and fit for consumption. Still, open the carton and inspect the eggs for cracks and other damages before putting them in your cart.
2. Store Your Eggs Properly
Storing your eggs the right way is a key component of keeping them free from salmonella bacteria. Proper egg storage involves following a few basic guidelines, including:
- Always store your eggs in the fridge because the cold temperature will prevent bacteria from multiplying and reduce the chances of spoilage.
- Take your eggs out of the carton they came in to store them in the fridge.
- Try to store your eggs away from other food items by placing them in a separate tray or another type of box.
- As you’re transferring the eggs to another container, inspect each one for damaged shells, which could contain bacteria and dirt.
- Double-check the expiration date on the original carton before throwing it away to ensure the eggs have not passed their shelf life.
3. Handle Raw Eggs With Care While Cooking
To ensure you take every safety precaution, wash your hands both before cooking with eggs and immediately after cracking an egg. Regardless of whether you’re cooking, you should thoroughly wash your hands whenever you touch raw egg. Doing so will minimize your chances of contracting any foodborne illness.
Once you’re ready to start cooking, make sure you use only utensils that have been cleaned with hot, soapy water. When cracking the eggs you’re cooking with, be careful not to splash any raw egg over the clean utensils or other food items. After you finish cooking, make sure you clean the utensils, countertops, and any other kitchen surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water.
4. Check That Your Egg-Containing Products Are Pasteurized
Make sure that any products you buy are pasteurized if they contain eggs. You can also find eggs that are labeled as pasteurized at some grocery stores. Check the aisles for these types of pasteurized egg-based products:
- Fresh pasteurized eggs that are still in the shell from the refrigerated section.
- Liquid pasteurized egg products from the refrigerated section.
- Frozen pasteurized egg products from the freezers.
- Powdered egg whites from the baking section.
5. Get Rid of Old Eggs
As a perishable product, eggs should not be consumed past the recommended date. Check the expiration date on the carton before cooking with eggs to make sure they aren’t spoiled. Eat hard-boiled eggs within two or three days of boiling them, and consume any food containing eggs within a week at most. And dispose of any eggs that smell funny immediately.
If you follow the safety tips above, you can feel good about including eggs in your pregnancy diet as a valuable source of vitamins and minerals.
Get High-Quality Eggs From Sauder’s Eggs
Now that you know the benefits of eating eggs while pregnant, the safest way to prepare eggs, and how to practice proper egg-handling safety, you’re ready to stock up on top-quality eggs. Make Sauder’s Eggs a healthy staple of your prenatal diet to ensure you get farm-fresh, nutritionally dense eggs each day. At Sauder’s Eggs, we provide farm-fresh, high-quality and delicious eggs you can feel good about.
Start safely incorporating eggs into your pregnancy diet by locating Sauder’s Eggs closest to you today.