ham in pregnancy

Is It Safe To Eat Ham During Pregnancy?

Nutritional needs are increased during pregnancy. A pregnant woman needs more iron, calories, protein, minerals, and vitamins for normal functioning of the mother and her fetus. But you need to be cautious about what you eat in your pregnancy as it plays a critical role in determining your overall health. Inclusion of certain foods may not be fit for consumption in pregnancy. Ham is one of those foods that needs special consideration before including it in your pregnancy diet. Let us check about the impact, and safety of eating Ham during pregnancy

Is Ham safe for pregnancy?

The quick answer to this question depends on your cooking style. Consumption of raw, smoked, or under cooked form of Ham is risky due to the presence of potentially dangerous bacteria called “Listeria” in it.

Listeria causes listeriosis that is seen as a form of food poisoning. If you are pregnant, you are more prone to getting infected by it. In the beginning its signs seems to be similar to that of flu-like symptoms. You only come to know about its infection after a few weeks have passed. Listeriosis can life-threatening for your baby. So, ensure healthy cooking practices, and best hygiene to prevent yourself, and the fetus from getting infected by this disease.

An under cooked Ham can have a lot of harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause several types of health conditions, that can adversely impact your pregnancy. If these bacteria get into your body, it can cause miscarriage, premature delivery, neonatal death, stillbirth, and a few other severe health issues. This is because they have the ability quickly transfer the infection to the fetus.

What types of Ham should you avoid in Pregnancy?

Pregnant women are advised to avoid all types of hams that are cured, smoked and not thoroughly cooked. Cured form of Ham implies when the ham is presented ‘as is’, mostly in the form of cold sliced in various countries. Cured, or ‘air-dried’ form of below types of hams should be strictly avoided:

  • Serrano Ham
  • Parma Ham
  • Prosciutto
  • Iberico Ham
  • Pancetta
  • Lardo
  • Black Forest Ham
  • Culatello
  • Speck
  • Presunto
  • City Ham, and Country Ham
  • Smithfield Ham

What is the right way to include Ham in your diet?

The best way to eat ham is to steam it. Doing this, your ham gets heated up thoroughly, and “listeria” bacteria in it will be destroyed. You can microwave your ham for around thirty to sixty seconds so that it reaches the ‘steaming hot’ temperature. Listeria bacterium breeds under refrigeration. It gets destroyed by cooking. Ensure that your ham is completely cooked to prevent chances of transmission of live viruses, and bacteria.

This type of ham is ideal to be included in your pregnancy diet. To be extra sure, you can even check the temperature of the meat before you eat it. Use a temperature to find if its internal temperature reaches to 165F. This implies your ham is safe to be enjoyed.

Tips to Eat Ham safely:

  • Re-heat your foods till they are piping hot prior to consuming them-
  • If you have raw ham, then cook it at around 160F. If you want to cook your precooked ham, then ensure that the cooking temperature should be 140F. It will make it safe, and healthy for pregnant women.
  • When you are eating at restaurants, prefer soft cheese over hard cheese. Also, avoid using foods that are made with deli meats as they don’t re-heat it before serving to you.
  • Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood or meat spreads. Ensure that you thoroughly heat everything and bring it to steaming hot temperature before you eat it.
  • When given a preference between a home cooked ham, and buying it from a store, it is always recommended to choose the former option. You can ensure that the food is cooked well as per your requirements before you consume it.

On the other hand, when you choose to buy it from store, you need to be sure that stringent sanitation practices and a high standard of hygiene, should be maintained. This will prevent the possibilities of cross-contamination with other foods that are kept in the large sized display fridge at stores.

Also read: Can I eat beef while pregnant?


Not all forms of hams should be completely eliminated. Hams that are cured, and not cooked is not the right food for your pregnancy. You can opt for steamed form of ham. Follow the general cooking guidelines to enjoy ham in a safe way.

Tags: can pregnant women have nitrate free ham

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