Sprouts During Pregnancy | A Thorough Guide

Raw sprouts should never be consumed whilst pregnant, raw sprouts are considered a ‘high-risk’ food which means that they can be contaminated with bacteria. Therefore are not suitable for people with low or compromised immune systems, including pregnant women. We’ll delve deep into all the common reasons, alternatives, and expert advice for pregnant women.
[Warning: This is not certified medical advice - we have gathered resources from around the web with links for you to check out. If you have any concerns or worries you should seek professional medical advice immediately, and always follow your physician's advice too]

 

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What Are Sprouts?

Sprouts are the shoots that grow out of seeds, beans, legumes, and grains. After soaking in water, they experience a surge in enzymes causing the shoots to grow and become nutritionally dense. 
Sprouts have been eaten for thousands of years, used in East Asian cooking, traditional types of medicine and enjoyed by millions of people. More recently they have become popular for the purported nutritional benefits, and nutrient content.
Each type of sprout has a different taste, texture and appearance. Being so versatile makes them fun to experiment with, when cooking.

 

Common Types Of Sprouts
  • Mung Bean Sprouts
  • Broccoli Sprouts
  • Chickpea Sprouts
  • Rice Sprouts
  • Alfalfa Sprouts

Official Advice On Raw Sprouts And Pregnancy

The NHS, England’s National Health Service, published an article explaining the risk and precautions necessary to take when eating sprouts. Also included is advice for how to properly kill all bacteria before eating. We’ve summarized the official information below.
Common Types Of Bacteria Found
  • Salmonella
  • E. Coli
Less Common Types Of Bacteria
  • Bacillus Cereus
  • Staphylococcus Aureus
  • Listeria Monocytogenes

 

NHS Advice For Vulnerable Groups

Who’s At Risk?
These could include elderly people, the very young, pregnant women and anyone with a weakened immune system due to underlying health issues.”
How Should They Prepare Raw Sprouts?
“People in vulnerable groups are therefore advised to cook all sprouts thoroughly until they are steaming hot throughout before eating them.”
What Does Cooking Thoroughly Mean?
Cooking sprouts thoroughly means heating them until they are steaming hot throughout.”
Check out NHS.uk for more information regarding consuming sprouts safely. All information in quotation marks has been sourced from nhs.uk.
Why Are They Risky During Pregnancy?
Raw sprouts are risky due to the seeds, beans, legumes or grains are contaminated. Sprouting seeds need to be sourced and grown in more sanitary mediums than regular garden seeds. Frequently, typical garden seeds have been grown using contaminated or natural fertilizers which could have been mixed with manure, or other unhygienic mediums. 
The FDA has very tight guidelines and regulations about what seeds can be used for “sprouting” or not. Therefore if you’re growing at home always buy “sprouting seeds”, and always follow the manufacturer's guidelines and instructions.  
Are Sprouts Healthy To Eat During Any Point Of Pregnancy?
Raw sprouts should never be eaten at any point during pregnancy. If you’re craving sprouts you should follow the guidance of thoroughly cooking them until steaming hot throughout, before consuming. 
I’ve Eaten Sprouts And Am Pregnant, What Should I Do?
If you’ve already eaten them then it’s suggested to speak to your physician. Often dishes will contain sprouts and you’ll eat them without even realising. Most commonly they’ll appear in asian cooking, dishes could include Vietnamese pho or Pad Thai.
As when you’re pregnant you’re in a high risk group, it’s suggested that you seek professional medical advice immediately.

 

Tips For Buying Sprouts

Here are a couple of our tips for what to look for and expect when buying sprouts from your local store or market.
Reputable Supplier - Only purchase pre-grown sprouts from reputable suppliers, included are health food stores too. We would suggest asking questions about the source of the seeds, the process of growing and other safety related questions before buying. 
Suitable For Raw Consumption - Even though you’re going to cook and kill bacteria before eating, look for ones that you are able to eat raw. This means that they’re produced in a more clean and sanitary environment.
Inspect Thoroughly - Although you can never be certain, inspect the sprouts: are they dirty? Do they look moldy? Is the packaging clean and sanitary? These aren’t certain signs but they’re indicators.

 

 

Can I Eat Cooked Sprouts During Pregnancy?

Yes, as according to the NHS’ advice, people in at risk groups can eat cooked sprouts. You should never consume raw sprouts however. Follow the correct process for cooking your sprouts to make them safe to enjoy. 

 

Can I Eat Home Grown Sprouts During Pregnancy?

You should only use seeds from reputable sources. For our full list of recommended sprouting seeds and companies, check out our recommended Sprouting Seeds & Equipment. 
Even when using reputable sprouts and recommended sprouting techniques you will need to cook them thoroughly before consuming.

 

How To Cook Sprouts

There are many methods to cook your sprouts to ensure they’re safe to eat. The general principle is to raise the temperature high enough to ensure they’re steaming hot throughout. Common methods would include boiling, steaming, and frying.

 

Boiling - Boiling is a quick and easy method for killing the bacteria. You just need a large enough pot to contain your boiling water and sprouts. Note: take extra care around boiling water when testing the sprout temperature and whilst draining.
Quick Method:
1.  Bring a large pot to the boil
2.  Add your sprouts in
3.  Test a sprout by removing and seeing if steaming hot throughout (be careful very hot)
4.  Remove sprouts from pot when done (be careful - the boiling water could injure you)
5.  Enjoy!

 

Steaming - Research suggests that steaming sprouts preserves more nutrients than boiling. Therefore this is another popular method for killing bacteria. The food does not come into contact with boiling water, instead the hot steam will surround the sprout heating it up and cooking it.
Quick Method:
1.  Use a rack, basket or other heat proof raised piece of equipment
2.  Add water to your pot and place a lid on top
3.  Add your chosen sprouts to the rack
4.  Leave the water to boil and steam your sprouts
5.  Take a sprout from rack and test to ensure it’s steaming hot throughout
6.  Remove from the rack when done
7.  Enjoy

 

Frying - It’s very common to consume fried sprouts, especially when eating asian cuisine. Commonly Korean, Chinese or Thai food. Most typically they’ll add a large handful of bean sprouts to the vegetable selection before stir-frying. 
As each recipe is different we will not suggest a quick method. Just be sure to follow the official advice and make sure all sprouts are thoroughly cooked through before consuming.

 

Common Questions

What Is Unsafe To Eat While Pregnant?
All high risk foods should be avoided when pregnant. When pregnant your immune system is not as strong, and it’s possible you’re risking the health of your unborn child too. Therefore you should avoid all uncooked or raw foods too. For a more comprehensive list  check out HealthLines' article: 11 foods and beverages to avoid when pregnant. 
What Are Pregnancy Superfoods?
Pregnancy Superfoods is a relatively new term that is said to encompass a group of foods that are extremely healthy for your unborn baby’s development. Foods include spinach, bananas, carrots, avocados and many more. For a more comprehensive list and detail about pregnancy superfoods check out Babyboxco.
Which Fruit Is Good For Pregnancy?
Medical News Today recommends certain fruits for their high levels of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that can help support a healthy pregnancy. They recommend apricots, oranges, mangoes, pears, pomegranates, avocados, guava, grapes, berries. Check out the article here: MedicalNewsToday.com.
Can You Eat Grapes While Pregnant?
This is a controversial food to eat whilst pregnant, some say that it’s acceptable to consume whilst others are wildly against consuming. There is a chemical in grapes called resveratrol which is suspected to cause toxicity in expectant mothers. Therefore we would recommend you speak to your physician to make a more informed decision. Check out this article for more information TheDailyStar.com.

 


 

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