Whether they’re poached, scrambled, fried, or eaten sunny-side up, eggs are a common breakfast staple. But though eggs are a healthy addition to your morning plate most of the time, you might question whether they’re safe to eat during pregnancy.
Fortunately, when prepared in certain ways, you can eat eggs. Here’s what you need to know about eggs in pregnancy, including how you can safely eat them.
When you’re expecting, your doctor will likely run down a list of foods to avoid during pregnancy. The list might include unpasteurized foods, as well as certain raw or undercooked items — no more ordering that steak rare.
Both pasteurizing and cooking help thoroughly eliminate potentially harmful bacteria in food, like listeria. Normally, our bodies are pretty good at handling these bacteria without any ill effects. But pregnant people have a weaker immune system — meaning harm could come to you or your baby from consuming unpasteurized or undercooked food.
So the short answer is yes, eggs are safe to eat during pregnancy — as long as they’re pasteurized and cooked. The key is safe preparation.
You’re probably aware that eggs carry the risk of foodborne illnesses like salmonella, which can be dangerous to you and your baby. And maybe you’ve been told that you shouldn’t eat mayonnaise because it contains eggs.
There’s some truth in these statements, but they don’t tell the complete story.
Eggs are a highly versatile food. As far as preparation, some cooking methods involve fully cooking the egg. Other methods, though, involve only partially cooking the egg, in which case a portion of the egg remains raw. If you’re expecting, you need to avoid raw egg.
Avoid eggs that are prepared with a runny yolk:
- over easy
- sunny-side up
- soft boiled
You should also avoid foods that contain undercooked eggs. This means no homemade:
- raw cookie dough
- salad dressings that contain egg
- ice cream
But don’t worry — these items are generally fine if bought at a store. (Yes, even chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream!) Always check the label, but store-bought items generally contain pasteurized eggs and are fine.
If you get food poisoning from an undercooked egg, the illness can pass to your baby during pregnancy and lead to an infection of the amniotic fluid. It’s always best to err on the side of caution.
You can protect yourself and your baby by cooking eggs thoroughly before eating.
Signs of a thoroughly cooked egg include a firm yolk and firm egg white — no runny center. Pay close attention when scrambling your eggs. Wait until eggs are no longer slimy or moist before consuming.
Also, thoroughly check a hard-boiled egg before eating. Cut it in half to ensure a cooked center. It usually takes 10 to 12 minutes to fully boil an egg.
If you’re frying eggs, cook them for about 2 to 3 minutes on both sides before eating. When buying eggs from the supermarket, only purchase eggs that are labeled “pasteurized.” This applies whether you’re purchasing eggs in a carton or powdered egg whites for baking.
Knowing how to properly cook eggs is important because eggs provide many health benefits during pregnancy.
Eggs are mostly fat and protein and contain very little carbohydrates. Eating foods high in protein and healthy fats can help you maintain a healthy blood sugar level, which can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes.
Keep in mind that the vitamin D content of eggs is concentrated in the yolk, so eating the whole egg rather than just the egg white is important.
The importance of vitamin D
Although vitamin D is found in small amounts in some foods, it’s essential for pregnant or breastfeeding women to get their vitamin D levels checked and supplement with vitamin D3 accordingly.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women need more vitamin D than nonpregnant women. This nutrient is essential for many aspects of health, including:
- maintaining healthy, strong bones
- supporting immune function
- promoting fetal development
In addition, eggs are packed with nutrients that are essential to a healthy pregnancy including B12, choline, and protein. They’re filling and contribute to a balanced diet, which helps with weight management during pregnancy.
Eggs are also a good source of iron. When you’re pregnant, your body requires more iron than usual. This helps maintain your energy level.
Pregnant women have increased protein needs. In fact, some
Since protein needs depend on many factors — including body size and activity levels — it’s a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider for advice on increasing protein in your diet.
Eggs provide a rich source of protein. One large 50-gram egg contains 6 grams of highly absorbable
Benefits of eggs for a developing baby
Eggs also contain nutrients that assist with your baby’s growth and development. They’re rich in nutrients like vitamin B12 and choline, which both contribute to healthy brain development.
Protein is found in skin, hair, muscles, and bone, and your cells need it to function properly. It’s another essential nutrient for a baby’s growth and development.
When you’re pregnant, eating a balanced diet is crucial to your health and your baby’s health. When you’re craving eggs, go ahead and enjoy them. You can hard-boil them, fry them, or scramble them — the key is making sure they’re cooked thoroughly.
Taking this step can reduce the risk of a foodborne illness, which is the last thing you want to deal with when pregnant.