Pregnancy is one of the most vital and sensitive periods in a woman’s life. Therefore, it’s very important for pregnant women to eat a healthy diet.Expecting mothers have to pay close attention to what they eat and make sure to avoid harmful foods and beverages. Certain foods should only be consumed rarely, while others should be avoided completely.

Here are 11 foods and beverages to avoid or minimize during pregnancy.

  • 1. High-Mercury Fish
    Pregnant women should not eat high-mercury fish more than 1–2 times each month. This includes shark, swordfish, tuna and mackerel.
  • Undercooked or Raw Fish
    Raw fish and shellfish can be contaminated with bacteria and parasites. Some of these can cause adverse health effects and harm both the mother and unborn baby.
  • Undercooked, Raw and Processed Meat
    Raw or undercooked meat may contain harmful bacteria. As a general rule, meat should be cooked all the way through.
  • Raw Eggs
    Raw eggs may be contaminated with Salmonella, which can lead to sickness and an increased risk of premature birth or stillbirth. Pasteurized eggs can be used instead.
  • Organ Meat
    Organ meat is a great source of iron, vitamin B12, vitamin A and copper. To prevent vitamin A and copper toxicity, pregnant women are advised to limit their intake of organ meat to no more than once a week.
  • Caffeine
    Pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to 200 mg per day, which is about 2–3 cups of coffee. High caffeine intake during pregnancy can limit fetal growth and cause low birth weight.
  • Raw Sprouts
    Raw sprouts may be contaminated with bacteria inside the seeds. Pregnant women should only eat cooked sprouts.
  • Unwashed Produce
    Fruits and vegetables may be contaminated with harmful bacteria, including Toxoplasma. It’s important to thoroughly rinse all fruits and vegetables.
  • Unpasteurized Milk, Cheese and Fruit Juice
    Pregnant women should not consume unpasteurized milk, cheese or fruit juice, as these foods increase the risk of bacterial infections.
  • Alcohol
    Pregnant women should not drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and fetal alcohol syndrome.
  • Processed Junk Foods
    Eating processed foods during pregnancy can increase your risk of excess weight gain, gestational diabetes and complications. This can have long-term health implications for your child.

Proper food hygiene and preparation is always recommended, especially during pregnancy.

However, this is not always easy to do, since some foods may already be contaminated when you purchase them.

For this reason, it’s best to avoid the foods on this list as much as possible. Your health and that of your unborn child should come first.