Eating a healthy diet is especially important during pregnancy. The foods and beverages you consume provide nourishment for both you and your growing baby. While juices can be a good source of vitamins and minerals, there are some types that should be limited or avoided altogether when you’re expecting.
Juice provides a convenient way to get nutrients from fruits and vegetables. However, not all juices are created equal. Many preprocessed juices have added sugars and lack the fiber found in whole fruits and veggies. Additionally, some unpasteurized juices could potentially harbor harmful bacteria.
When creating homemade juices, it’s important to carefully select produce that’s been thoroughly washed. Avoid unpasteurized juice products that could contain bacteria. Limit juice portions and focus on whole fruits and vegetables whenever possible.
During pregnancy, pay close attention to juice labels. Watch out for types with more sugar than you’d get by simply eating the fruit or vegetable itself. Steer clear of juices prone to high levels of toxins as well. By making wise juice choices, you can meet increased nutritional needs safely.
Juices to Avoid Completely
There are some types of juice that should be avoided altogether during pregnancy due to potential risks.
Unpasteurized juice refers to juice that has not undergone heat treatment to kill harmful bacteria. Consuming unpasteurized juices may increase the risk of foodborne illness. This is especially dangerous during pregnancy as some foodborne illnesses can lead to miscarriage, premature delivery, and other complications.
Only drink pasteurized juices during pregnancy. Check the label to confirm the juice has been pasteurized or heated to destroy any potential pathogens.
Juice Made from Moldy Produce
Consuming moldy produce could lead to exposure to mycotoxins, toxic substances released by molds. Mycotoxin exposure has been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage when consumed during pregnancy.
Carefully check produce used for homemade juices. Discard any fruits or vegetables that are moldy, damaged, or spoiled. Don’t use juice from produce that wasn’t stored properly or has passed its expiration date.
Juices High in Mercury
Mercury is a heavy metal that can harm fetal neurological development when consumed in high amounts during pregnancy. Certain types of produce are more prone to absorbing mercury from the soil.
Avoid juicing produce that tends to be high in mercury. This includes grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, and imported fruit juices. Opt for lower-mercury fruits and vegetables like apples, pineapples, kiwis, grapes, and domestic fruit blends.
Juices to Limit
Some juices are fine for pregnant women in moderation but should not be over-consumed.
Green Juices with Alfalfa Sprouts
Unpasteurized alfalfa sprout juice has been linked to foodborne illness. However, even pasteurized alfalfa sprout juice may contain higher levels of a toxic amino acid called L-canavanine. Consuming large amounts has been associated with lupus flare-ups.
Limit green juices containing alfalfa sprouts. Opt for other greens like kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, or lettuce instead.
Carrot juice is packed with vitamin A, which is an essential nutrient during pregnancy. However, excessively high levels of preformed vitamin A from supplements have been associated with birth defects.
While carrots and carrot juice do not contain preformed vitamin A, overdoing it could lead to extremely high intake. Stick to a half-cup serving or less per day to be safe.
Beets are a nutritional powerhouse. However, they also contain very high levels of inorganic nitrates. Consuming large amounts has been associated with methemoglobinemia, a condition that impairs the blood’s oxygen-carrying abilities.
Enjoy beet juice in moderation, limiting yourself to half a cup a day at most. Combining it with other vegetable juices can help dilute the nitrate concentration.
Juice Recommendations for Pregnancy
Some juices offer nutritional benefits during pregnancy when consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet. Here are some good juice options:
|Pomegranate||Folate, vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium||Supports fetal brain and bone development|
|Blueberry||Vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese||Boosts immunity, prevents leg cramps|
|Plum||Vitamin C, vitamin K, copper||Strengthens fetal bones and blood vessels|
|Cherry||Vitamin C, potassium, melatonin||Improves sleep, reduces swelling|
|Apple||Vitamin C, fiber||Relieves constipation, boosts immunity|
Tips for Picking the Best Juices
Keep the following tips in mind when selecting juices during pregnancy:
- Read labels and choose pasteurized juices only
- Avoid added sugars by picking 100% juice with no sugar added
- Look for low-sodium options to limit fluid retention
- Get juices fortified with folate, calcium, and iron
- Drink fruit juices in moderation due to natural sugar content
- Enjoy vegetable juices for nutrients without excess sugar
- Limit higher-risk juices like beet, carrot, orange, and alfalfa sprout juice
- Always wash produce thoroughly before juicing at home
The Importance of a Balanced Diet
While juice can be included as part of a healthy pregnancy diet, relying solely on juice is never recommended. Juice lacks the fiber found in whole fruits and vegetables that promotes satiety and proper digestion. Make sure your diet contains plenty of whole fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.
A balanced diet reduces the risk of excessive weight gain during pregnancy. It also ensures you get a wide range of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for optimal health.
Consult with your doctor about any special nutritional needs or diet restrictions. Work together to come up with dietary guidelines to support a healthy pregnancy.
Safety Tips for Homemade Juices
Here are some additional safety tips to follow when making homemade juices while pregnant:
- Use a juicer with a cold-press or masticating function to preserve nutrients
- Thoroughly wash all produce, including the peel
- Avoid bruised, damaged, or moldy fruits and vegetables
- Peel citrus fruits to avoid oil residues that may contain bacteria
- Refrigerate fresh juice and drink within 24 hours
- Freeze juice in portions to retain nutrients for a few days
- Clean juicer parts thoroughly after each use
The Bottom Line
Juice can be included as part of a healthy pregnancy diet. However, it’s important to be mindful of juice choices. Always opt for pasteurized varieties and avoid unpasteurized juice and produce prone to higher levels of toxins. Limit higher-sugar fruit juices and focus on getting nutrients from wholesome foods whenever possible. With some informed selections, juice can provide beneficial nutrition during pregnancy.