Are Cooked Bean Sprouts Safe During Pregnancy? (Risks Of Eating Raw Or Undercooked Bean Sprouts)

Bean sprouts are nutritious and are healthy vegetables to add to salads and various meals. Expecting mothers shouldn’t eat undercooked or raw sprouts because there could be a risk of infection with bacteria including Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. It can cause many food-borne illness outbreaks, leading to stillbirth, miscarriage, premature birth, and life-threatening illness in newborns. Properly cooked bean sprouts eliminate any bacteria. If you accidentally eat undercooked or raw sprouts, look for symptoms similar to morning sickness.

Bean sprouts contain various vitamins, minerals, fibers, and antioxidants. It’s an excellent energy source for expecting moms and has great nutritional value.

They are low in calories and can work as an ingredient in many dishes and salads, making them a fulfilling meal.

While they are nutritious, you must have heard they come in the dangerous category of food items for pregnant moms. 

If sprouts are considered a good source of nutrition, then why is it a dangerous food item for expecting women? Do you need to eliminate it altogether? What’s the difference between raw and cooked bean sprouts? 

Let’s find out how to include these delicious and healthy vegetables in your diet!

Bean sprouts during pregnancy

Sprouts are these tiny germinated seeds of a vegetable, added as a food item in various meals and salads.

While some people like to grow independently, others like to get them from their nearest grocery stores.

They are a healthy and delicious meal and are great for filling your stomach. Low in fat, sodium, and calories, it’s added to various salads or sandwiches just to add something more to your meals.

With so many health benefits, one wonders if sprouts are so good, then why would they be considered bad for pregnant women.

While they have many health benefits, it does come with some risks attached, which can affect your pregnancy.

Risks of eating raw bean sprouts during pregnancy

Bean sprouts can either be included in your meals raw or cooked. So, what difference does it make if you eat it raw or cooked? It turns out a lot!

Raw bean sprouts could be infected with bacteria including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli which can get in quickly through the cracks of the shell.

These bacteria are so small that you wouldn’t know, and once inside, they thrive in humid and warm conditions, which is the environment sprouts need to grow.

You couldn’t be more wrong if you think you can rinse them thoroughly to clean them like any other vegetable. It’s near impossible to get the bacteria out and get them cleaned this way, and by the time they’re on the plate, they’re already high in bacteria count.

Dangers of eating raw bean sprouts during pregnancy

Eating raw sprouts during pregnancy can cause many food-borne illness outbreaks, which can be especially dangerous for pregnant women. 

A pregnant woman is feeling sick some time after eating raw bean sprouts

Listeriosis can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, and life-threatening infections in newborns. Salmonella and E. coli can cause severe illness and can be fatal. 

Since eating raw bean sprouts can be so dangerous for pregnant moms, the Food and Drug Administration recommends that they should avoid eating them.

And it’s not just the store-bought ones that could be dangerous for the unborn baby. It could also be the ones you grow in your backyard.

Just because you think you’re taking great care of the food you eat because it’s organic, it doesn’t remove the danger of being infected with bacteria.

So, does it mean you should give up eating bean sprouts for the remaining 8-9 months? Not unless you cook them!

Eating cooked bean sprouts during pregnancy

A pregnant woman is about to have a nice dinner with her spouse and parents

The only way to ensure you’re not consuming bean sprouts infected with bacteria is to ensure they are cooked thoroughly!

Cooking the bean sprouts until they’re steaming hot (165 degrees Fahrenheit) will make them healthy for you and your unborn baby, eliminating the risk of illness. 

When these raw sprouts are cooked thoroughly, any bacteria that would have infected them is bound to get completely wiped out.

You can add it to any salad or dish of your choice, and it’ll still have that nutritional value you’re looking for, except now you won’t get sick.

If you’re worried about other ways these sprouts are sold and if they’re raw or cooked, then try to look at how that food item has been made.

The oven eliminates any bacteria from bread made with sprouts as an ingredient.

Bean sprouts in cans labeled as ready to eat are also safe as they have been heated well enough during processing. But you can still reheat them. 

How to know bean sprouts are properly cooked?

A bowl of tofu with cooked bean sprouts and other cooked veggies

When bean sprouts are thoroughly cooked to the point where it’s safe to eat, they won’t be crunchy. When you try to press them, they’re easily mushed and soft. 

If you’re out in a restaurant and have ordered a dish or salad with cooked bean sprouts, you can do this test to ensure they’re well cooked. 

Sprouts which aren’t cooked well enough will be slightly crunchy, and most people do that to retain this element that people love.

Remember that lightly cooked sprouts wouldn’t have reached a high enough temperature to kill the bacteria.

It’s best to ask them to give you a serving of thoroughly cooked bean sprouts on the side or omit it entirely from the dish.

Even when adding them yourself, cook them separately on the side and then add them to your meal. 

What to do when you accidentally eat raw or undercooked sprouts?

Sometimes we can’t control everything and might accidentally end up eating raw or undercooked bean sprouts. But there’s no need to panic and make yourself worry.

While eating raw or undercooked sprouts can harm the baby and you, it’s not that you would definitely get sick after accidentally eating them once. 

It’s best to be aware of the symptoms or signs that can indicate a possible illness like food poisoning. While you could immediately show signs of being ill, sometimes it takes up to 10 days for any symptoms to appear.

You could see symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or stomach and body aches. Other signs include getting a fever and losing appetite. 

Some symptoms could also be confused with morning sickness in pregnant women, so if these signs appear anywhere around eating bean sprouts, it’s best to see your doctor immediately. 

FAQs

Can I eat bean sprouts in pho while pregnant?

You can eat bean sprouts in pho and any other dish or salad you wish to as long as they’re properly cooked.

Raw or undercooked bean sprouts might be infected with various bacteria, which can cause various illnesses. It can harm you, and your unborn baby might also be affected.

How do you cook sprouts when pregnant?

When you’re looking to eat bean sprouts while pregnant, it’s best to buy fresh sprouts and cook them thoroughly. If they have a musty smell, don’t buy them.

Cook them at a high enough temperature so they’re not crunchy anymore. It should be soft enough to be easily crushed between your fingers when steaming hot.

If they taste crunchy, then they’re undercooked. Lightly cooked bean sprouts are still bad for expecting mothers as bacteria might still be present. 

What foods should be avoided during pregnancy?

When you’re expecting your baby, there are some food items you should be avoiding as they might cause an issue. Changes in your diet are required because it directly affects your baby.

– Certain types of fish. Also, raw or undercooked ones.
– Raw shellfish 
– Raw meats or other cured or undercooked meats
– Raw or undercooked green sprouts
– Raw or undercooked eggs
– Soft cheese
– Unpasteurized milk or fruit juices

You might love some of these food items or be a coffee lover. But when it comes to your unborn baby’s health, it’s best to restrict yourself from food items that can contain parasites and harmful bacteria.

When is the best time to eat sprouts?

It’s best to have sprouts for your breakfast or brunch as it provides a person with a lot of energy which can be helpful to go on for the day. It’s a vegetable packed with vitamins and minerals, so it’s pretty healthy.

You can also eat it for evening snacks or dinner, but it just takes a lot of time to digest. In addition, it can make you restless during the night as your body might find it hard to sleep because digestion is still taking place.

To summarise

When you’re expecting, there can be various restrictions to your diet, and that can sometimes make you feel constricted and irritated about not being able to enjoy the foods you like or crave, such as bean sprouts.

They’re a great source of nutrition, and if you want to keep them in your diet, it’s best to ensure they’re cooked well enough before you eat them during your pregnancy.

Raw or undercooked bean sprouts might have bacteria that can make you severely ill, affecting your immune system and even impacting your baby’s health.

If you accidentally eat them, don’t panic. Instead, please keep a lookout for the symptoms of the illness and make sure to get it checked out by your doctor.

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