Fruits Not to Eat During Pregnancy

What's Covered

Pregnancy is one of the most enjoyable moments of our lives, but can also be one of the most stressful. From the fluctuations in hormones to our ever-changing bodies, and the notion that our once loved clothes may never fit again can be downright daunting. I’m still holding on to a favorite pair of pants I have lying dormant in the back of my closet, hoping someday I will magically fit back into them once again.

The Consumption Studies of Fruit during Pregnancy

Imagine having the thought process that because you are pregnant, you can just go ahead and eat anything and everything. After all, you are eating for two now. I think most of us have thought like that throughout our pregnancies. I know I have, and I probably gained thirty-plus pounds for each pregnancy because of that analogy. I ate everything I wanted to eat and more, thinking that once I gave birth, it would be easy to lose all those extra pounds. From icing-laden cake to sandwiches piled high with fresh deli meats and cheese, and of course, don’t forget the pickles! One thing I couldn’t stand the look of, let alone the smell, was peanut butter. I wonder if perhaps that is the reason, I have a daughter extremely allergic to peanuts. I don’t think I ever stopped to consider that perhaps certain foods shouldn’t be consumed during pregnancy. My Doctor gave lots of friendly advice on nutritious foods to eat, but never things that I should stay away from. Watermelon is my favorite fruit, I’m not sure how I would have coped if I had learned it was unsafe to eat. I believe it helped me greatly at the end of my pregnancy as it acts as a diuretic and it helped greatly with my puffy feet, ha-ha. Through time, I don’t recall hearing anyone say, “Hey, don’t eat that piece of fruit if you are pregnant until you check to see if it’s safe”. But, for some pregnant women, watermelon may not be a good choice. I always look forward to summer, with barbecues, warm summer nights, and picnics. I always pack an uncut watermelon to be cut when it’s time to eat. I don’t like warm, spoiled-tasting fruit, and this is one way I have found to combat that problem. Not only is watermelon great tasting, it is also chocked full of vitamins and minerals. It is also high in water content making it the perfect fruit on a hot summer day and contains electrolytes and potassium. My kids like cutting watermelon into chunks and pureeing it in the blender to make popsicles. Watermelon is good to eat for pregnant women unless they eat too much, as it can remove fundamental nourishment needed during pregnancy, with all that peeing. It is also high in sugar, which could lead to gestational diabetes.

Watermelon

I always look forward to summer, with barbecues, warm summer nights, and picnics. I always pack an uncut watermelon to be cut when it’s time to eat. I don’t like warm, spoiled-tasting fruit, and this is one way I have found to combat that problem. Not only is watermelon great tasting, it is also chocked full of vitamins and minerals. It is also high in water content making it the perfect fruit on a hot summer day and contains electrolytes and potassium. My kids like cutting watermelon into chunks and pureeing it in the blender to make popsicles. Watermelon is good to eat for pregnant women unless they eat too much, as it can remove fundamental nourishment needed during pregnancy, with all that peeing. It is also high in sugar, which could lead to gestational diabetes.

Strawberries

I love strawberries, especially if they are in a cake. They are loaded with vitamins and taste delicious in just about anything. Strawberries were actually one of the foods I could keep down in my second pregnancy. If strawberry allergies tend to run in your family though, it’s a good idea before consuming these gems, to speak with your family doctor regarding your concerns before consuming.

Kiwi

Kiwi is loaded with vitamin K and folate, which help to lower the chance of your baby being born with a defect in the neural tubes, potentially resulting in Spina Bifida. Be sure to talk to your doctor about getting an adequate amount of folate in your pregnancy. If you have allergies to latex, then kiwi may be on your list of no-no fruits to eat. Latex is a white fluid- like substance found in some fruits such as bananas and kiwi. Be on the lookout for any skin rash or irritation in the mouth.

Papaya

An article was released in the British Journal of Nutrition pertaining to the safety of papaya in pregnancy. With papaya, there is a substance called latex of the fruit. This substance is obtained when the milk-like liquid of the plant seeps out and congeals when it meets the air. If consuming papaya in normal servings, then it probably won’t pose any harmful risks, but if choosing to eat it unripe, it might harm the unborn fetus by causing undue contractions. Like any scientific findings, more studies will need to be completed.[1]

Pineapple

Out of all my children, I only have one that will try any type of fruit, always wanting to pick up a new variety each time we are out. I only know of one so far that wasn’t a winner, and that was dragon fruit. It is secure to say that dragon fruit is safe to eat during pregnancy, and with the added benefit of fiber, it’s a definite win-win. Pineapple, on the other hand, happens to be a favorite, and with all the benefits one can get by consuming this fruit, it’s a wonder there’s not more hype over it. Pineapple has a substance called Bromelain and is great at fighting diseases such as cancer, and certain types of arthritis. It is also known to be great at healing ulcers. I find that one sort of weird, since every time I eat pineapple, it feels as though the juices from it are eating my tongue. Pineapple is said to be safe to consume during pregnancy. Some medical professionals say eat as much as you wish, while others caution the bromelain present in the fruit has been known to soften the cervix and cause early labor or abortion. I would think an absurd amount would have to be eaten. [2]

Tamarind

This is one fruit I could never find in the local grocery stores. It’s a fruit native to the tropical region of Africa and is used in many dishes for its sour distinction. It pairs well with fruit salsas and is an essential ingredient used in Indian cuisines such as curries and spicy dishes. I am a big fan of anything curry, so I may have to go on the hunt for this invaluable ingredient. With any food, moderation is key. There are many benefits of consuming tamarind while pregnant, from easing nausea to hindering constipation and boosting energy, but it’s also known to have disadvantages. Tamarind is loaded with vitamin C, which is a good thing, but too much has been linked to an early birth. One awful side effect I experienced during pregnancy was heartburn. It didn’t seem to matter what I ate; it was just always there., so if you’re thinking of using tamarind for any dish, please be careful as it can raise your acidity levels causing you great discomfort.[3]

Grapes

I love grapes, I especially like freezing them to have a sweet treat during the day as an alternative to reaching for a chocolate bar. In all honesty, I think my kids have cleaned out my chocolate stash, so no worries there. Actually, when I think of grapes, I’m picturing myself hiding somewhere in the house after a long day of homeschooling, and having that quiet time with a nice glass of red. Let’s get back to reality, though. Grapes are full of antioxidants, which help with inflammation, not to mention they taste amazing, but I think I may be a bit biased.

One study on an antioxidant found in grapes is resveratrol. Some Doctors are urging caution in pregnant women, as the study is proving that a risk may present itself within the pancreas of the unborn child. [4]

Bananas

There are quite a few contradictions on whether bananas should be consumed during pregnancy. For most, they are a great addition to a daily diet. They contain vitamins and are a wonderful source of carbohydrates needed to power through those days you’d rather be napping. Pregnant women with diabetes are asked to avoid eating these as they contain a high amount of sugar. Some women have traditions and believe they should omit at least one type of food during their pregnancy. I’m not sure what those reasons are, other than the fact that they may believe something bad would happen to their unborn child.[5]

Unpasteurized Fruit Juice

I’m not a big fan of fruit juice. I’d rather just eat the fruit whole. Drinking store-made juices usually do no harm, but can make pregnant women sick as they can carry illnesses such as E. Coli which can also be passed onto the baby.

Dates

I have to admit, there are not a lot of fruits that I dislike, but dates would be one. I don’t know if it’s the taste or the texture. It kind of reminds me of when I was in high school and we went on a field trip to the Natural Museum of History. I remember the class being asked if we would like to try a chocolate-covered larva. Of course, I said yes……it was gross. I don’t really understand the correlation between the bug and the date, but nonetheless, it’s mentally stuck in my head, so that every time I see a date, it acts as a constant reminder. I think everyone knows that eating dates are a great way to improve digestion as they are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Dates are known to help in some stages of pregnancy as they can simulate a natural chemical reaction causing the uterus to contract, but in some cases, dates are only tried for the first time because of this and you could have an allergic reaction. They are also high in sugar and can contribute to fast weight gain.

Wild Apples

I remember as a child, visiting my aunt. She was famous for her crabapple jelly, and when we visited, we would come home with a bottle or two to put on our toast at breakfast. Her backyard would be full of fallen apples that didn’t quite make it into the buckets at picking time. I’d always eat too many and then end up with the worst stomach cramps, but it never stopped me from doing it all over again. It is believed that the high amount of acid found in these apples can cause preterm labor and even miscarriages. No scientific data could be found to support this claim, and with any information, it is always wise to ask for a medical opinion. I for one would steer clear of eating these while pregnant unless you enjoy sitting upon the throne.

The Dangers of Eating Fruits in Foreign Countries during Pregnancy

Traveling to another country is exciting at any time, but during pregnancy, there may be certain risks associated. Diarrhea, known as traveler’s diarrhea, is not something we want to think about when going on vacation, but it is something one should prepare for in the event it happens. It is contagious and usually acquired by ingesting contaminated food, such as unwashed fruits and vegetables. It’s always a good idea to implement proper hygiene and safe handling of any type of food while traveling abroad. You should seek the advice of a medical practitioner before traveling as well, to inquire about vaccines and preventative medicines to have on hand. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis E, which is something to keep in mind if you are traveling to prevalent areas. Eating unpeeled and soiled fruit is frowned upon as they may be contaminated. A mother is able to pass this virus onto her unborn child resulting in early labor with a decreased rate of survival.[6]

The Role of Pesticides in Pregnancy

Pesticides are used in many countries to increase the growth of crops and help fight disease in certain fruits and vegetables. The use of pesticides during pregnancy poses a threat to the unborn child. It’s no secret the chemical found in these pesticides are known to be carcinogenic. They can create a whole host of problems such as birth defects, miscarriages, and learning problems. It would be wise to consume organic fruit, especially during pregnancy, but this solution doesn’t present itself everywhere, especially in third-world countries.

Food Superstitions of the Expectant Mother

As I sit here writing this article, it leaves me thinking about my dog, Oreo. I named him after his colors, not the cookie. Most of us know the huge list of no-no foods we mustn’t give our pets. Things like onions, grapes, and chocolate just to name a few, but who really thinks about no-no foods that might actually cause harm to us during our pregnancies. A lot of what we should and shouldn’t eat should be common sense, in my opinion. We all know we should consume lots of water, protein, vegetable, and fruits, but who would have thought that there are certain fruits that may harm the unborn fetus. There is so much controversy over what we should and should not eat these days based on our age, health, and even our blood type supposedly plays a role in how our bodies react to certain elements found in the foods we eat. It’s all mind-boggling to me.

Northern Ethiopia

A small percentage of women in Northern Ethiopia believe if they eat bananas, they will have an adverse reaction that may cause them to have a very long labor or a miscarriage.

South Africa

In South Africa, some women believe that consuming foods such as pumpkin, eggs and certain fruits will result in a deformed fetus. These beliefs are brought on from generation to generation.

West Bengal 

In West Bengal, fruits such as coconut, jackfruit, and bananas are avoided during pregnancy for the belief of having miscarriages and an abnormal-looking baby. It is also believed that consuming dark colored fruits will result in the baby’s skin being dark. However, once the baby is born, the foods are then reintroduced as they are thought to increase the milk supply and recover from labor quicker. [7]

Malaysia

There is an ethnic group of Indigenous people in Peninsular Malaysia called, the Temiar. They have many superstitions surrounding food, as they believe harm will come to the Mother and her unborn child if consumed. One of these is the jackfruit. It is believed that the sap from the fruit would deposit itself inside the womb upon consumption, making delivery next to impossible. Legend has it, that as the baby proceeds down the birth canal, the sticky sap will pull the unborn child back. The Temiar also believes that if the expectant mother or her husband consumes a double fused banana, they will most likely end up having twins. They can, however choose to split the banana with one another. Coconut also lies high on the list of fruits not to eat. This hard, round-shaped fruit that is difficult to open is supposed to resemble the womb. It’s thought that if one is consumed, the baby will not be able to get out. [8]

Ghana

Ghana is a country along the coast of New Guinea. It is believed that if the mango is consumed during pregnancy, the baby will always have problems with their stomachs. It is because of these superstitions surrounding food, that the nutrition of a woman while pregnant is very poor.

Gestational Diabetes and Fruit Consumption

Gestational diabetes occurs when your blood sugar goes above the normal range during pregnancy.  This usually happens in the fourth to sixth month of pregnancy and goes away after birth. Some fruits have a high glucose level and so it is important to keep your blood sugar levels at a constant low. The best fruits to eat for this condition are those with a lower glucose level such as blueberries and strawberries.

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Personal Note

My second pregnancy left nothing to be desired. I was constantly nauseous from the second month up until I gave birth, and none of the medications prescribed to me seemed to help. I found a little relief in chewing sour gum and granny smith apples (anything sour seemed to help with the vomiting and nausea). I also enjoyed pineapple and strawberry smoothies. I’m not saying that what worked for me will work for everyone, but I wanted to share my experiences. Here’s what I put in my smoothie: Two cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, one cup of frozen or fresh strawberries, one cup of frozen or fresh pineapple, half of a banana (if your stomach can handle it), a few ice cubes and blend. Sometimes I throw in a teaspoon of ground flax or chia seeds for added fiber.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, and in my opinion, it’s always best to seek the advice of a trusted medical professional. Moderation is always key with anything, but certain factors such as our current health can determine whether certain foods we normally would think of as safe, should be consumed in the same way when we are pregnant. There are many superstitions surrounding food in foreign countries, some of which I find fascinating. I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Good luck with your pregnancy journey, and happy eating!


[1] “Papaya (Carica papaya) consumption is unsafe in pregnancy: fact or fable?” British Journal of Nutrition 88.2 (2002) pages 199-203

[2] International Journal of Bio Science and Technology 11.9 (2019) pages 69-75

[3] Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder, Journal of Laryngology and voice 7.1 (2017)

[4] Impact of resveratrol exposure during pregnancy on maternal and fetal outcomes in animal models of human pregnancy complications. Pharmacological Research 144 (2019) pages 264-278

[5] Food Taboos and related misperceptions during pregnancy in Mekelle City, Northern Ethiopia. (2020) e0239451

[6] Hepatitis E and Pregnancy, Reviews in Medical Virology (2017) 10.1002/rmv.1929, Wiley Online Library

[7]  Food taboos and traditional customs among pregnant women in Papua New Guinea: Missed opportunity for education in antenatal clinics. Contemporary PNG Studies, DWU Research Journal.

[8]  “Food restrictions during pregnancy among Indigenous Temiar women in peninsular Malaysia.” Malaysian journal of nutrition18.2 (2012).

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Author

Tiffany Biondi

Tiffany Biondi

Mother of 4 kids, Tiffany is a certified childcarer and during her free time, she write posts in thebabychoice to share her hands on experience and knowledge.

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