Pregnancy is an exciting and challenging time for any woman. It is important to eat a healthy and balanced diet during pregnancy to ensure the health and safety of the baby. Unfortunately, some foods and beverages can be harmful and should be avoided during pregnancy. Here is a list of the top 14 foods to avoid during pregnancy.

Raw or undercooked meat

Raw or undercooked meat is one of the most common sources of foodborne illnesses, including salmonella, listeria, and toxoplasmosis. These infections can lead to severe complications during pregnancy, including miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature birth. It is recommended to cook meat at a minimum temperature of 165°F to kill any harmful bacteria.

Raw or Undercooked Eggs

Raw or undercooked eggs can contain salmonella bacteria, which can lead to food poisoning during pregnancy. It is recommended to avoid raw or partially cooked eggs, including raw cookie dough or homemade mayonnaise during pregnancy.

Fish High in Mercury

Fish high in mercury, such as sharks, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, can harm the baby’s developing nervous system. It is recommended to limit the consumption of these fish during pregnancy and choose low-mercury alternatives like salmon, shrimp, and canned light tuna.

Unpasteurized Dairy Products

Unpasteurized dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yogurt, can contain harmful bacteria such as listeria, which can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or preterm labor. It is recommended to choose pasteurized dairy products during pregnancy.

Soft cheeses

Examples like feta, brie, and camembert, can contain listeria, a bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Listeria can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, and other serious health complications. It is best to opt for hard cheeses such as cheddar, parmesan, and Swiss which are generally considered safe to consume.

Deli meats

Deli meats, such as ham, turkey, and salami, can also contain harmful bacteria and are best avoided during pregnancy. If you must consume deli meats, make sure to heat them to steaming before eating to kill any bacteria.

Raw Shellfish

Raw shellfish, including oysters, clams, and mussels, can contain harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause food poisoning. It is recommended to cook shellfish thoroughly before consuming it during pregnancy.


While moderate caffeine intake is generally safe during pregnancy, excessive consumption can increase the risk of miscarriage or low birth weight. It is recommended to limit caffeine intake to 200 milligrams per day, equivalent to one 12-ounce cup of coffee.


Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause physical and cognitive abnormalities in the baby. It is recommended to avoid alcohol entirely during pregnancy.

Highly processed foods

These are foods that have been altered from their original state and have added ingredients that are not found in the original food. These foods usually have high amounts of added sugar, salt, fat, and preservatives. Examples of highly processed foods include prepackaged snacks, fast foods, and convenience foods. Highly processed foods are not recommended during pregnancy as they are not nutrientdense and may contain high levels of unhealthy fats and salt.

Raw Sprouts

Raw sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, and radish sprouts, can contain harmful bacteria like salmonella and E.coli. It is recommended to cook sprouts thoroughly before consuming them during pregnancy.

Artificial sweeteners

These are synthetic sugar substitutes that are much sweeter than regular table sugar. They have been linked to a number of health risks, including increased risk of gestational diabetes, preterm delivery, and birth defects, and again since they are not natural products, they may contain chemicals or other ingredients that could be harmful to an unborn baby. For these reasons, it is best to avoid them during pregnancy.

Unwashed fruits and vegetables

They may contain bacteria, viruses, or parasites that could be harmful to the pregnant woman and her growing baby. This is especially true for those fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed with pesticides. They might also contain harmful chemicals and undisclosed allergens that can cause an adverse reaction. It is best to always thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before consuming them.

Excess Vitamin A

While vitamin A is essential for the baby’s growth and development, excessive consumption can harm the developing fetus. Consuming high levels of vitamin A during pregnancy can lead to birth defects, especially during the first trimester. It is recommended to avoid foods high in vitamin A, including liver, fish liver oil, and supplements.

In conclusion, it is best to avoid the top 14 foods during pregnancy. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and drinking plenty of fluids is essential for the health of both mother and baby. As always, it is important to consult a doctor or health care professional before making any changes to your diet during pregnancy.

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