Pregnancy can be a pretty taxing time, especially for first time mothers. You may have stayed healthy and eaten nutritious foods all your life, but once you are pregnant, you will be surprised to find out how many of these foods are actually not good for the baby, and for you. What’s more, every pregnancy is different from the other, which means that what is good for someone else might not be good for you, so that rules out taking tips from experienced women as well. Take hummus, for instance. This Middle Eastern delicacy has made a place for itself in our diets. It is great with pita breads, and equally great as dips. It’s made with chickpeas and garlic, which are both pretty healthy usually but now that you are pregnant, you will find yourself wondering whether you can indulge in this quick fix at all. In this article, let us find out if you can.
The good news is, yes you can. There is no reason why you should refrain completely from eating hummus, especially since it is made from healthy ingredients, is low in fat and calories, and is therefore a much better option than many high calorie dips and snacks. You are likely to be craving for a snack every now and then during those nine months, and the hummus is a great way to keep your intake healthy and not put on any unwanted weight. However, make sure you are eating it the right way.
First, you need to understand why caution must be maintained while eating hummus. Like any other food, hummus can also be host to a thriving colony of listeria, which causes listeriosis, a primarily food borne disease. Usually, people are not affected by listeria, but anyone with a weakened immune system, such as a pregnant woman and the fetus, will be highly susceptible to its effects. The woman will possibly not face anything more than a mild flue and digestive disorders, but listeria has been linked with miscarriages, preterm deliveries, and even stillbirths. Besides, listeria can cross over to the fetus through the umbilical cord, and lead to a variety of development disorders of the spine and nervous system.
Eat it fresh
For the above mentioned reason, it is important to eat hummus fresh and well cooked. Listeria thrives in food that is raw or under cooked, or has been sitting on the shelf for a long time. Therefore, if you are buying canned hummus, make sure that you eat it fresh, preferably on the same day as you buy it. Check on the label carefully to see the manufacturing and the best buy date the closer to the packing date, the safer the hummus will be. It is also important to check the label for the ingredients list so that you know you will not be eating something you have suddenly become allergic to, or something that makes you nauseous.
Make at home
The safest way to eat hummus will be to prepare it yourself. It is a pretty easy to make dish, so it will not be too taxing for the pregnant woman. You will be able to buy fresh ingredients and make as much as you would like to eat for the moment. Do not make in batches because that will probably be sitting in the fridge for quite some time, and new bacteria and other parasites might be born that will be hard to kill even by warming the food. Avoid ordering the hummus from a restaurant because you will have no control over the conditions in which it has been prepared, and no control over the freshness of the ingredients used as well.
Eat it hot
Although it will certainly not seem too appetizing, you need to eat the hummus fresh and piping hot. While the hummus is usually best eaten cold, this is one concession that you must make in order to make sure that all the bacteria has been killed off. Also, make sure that you are not eating it with unhealthy crisps, but as a spread on bread.
Also read: Can I eat brie during pregnancy?
There are, however, some factors that you need to keep in mind. The NSW Food Authority in Australia has labeled the hummus as a food that must be approached with caution by pregnant women. And the brochure released by the New Zealand government, “Eating for Healthy Pregnant Women”, lists the humus as something that should be avoided by pregnant women at all costs. However, most experienced mothers do not report any adverse effects on themselves or on the baby from consuming hummus during pregnancy. The safest thing to do would be to consult your doctor before you eat any hummus.