Should Women Eat Red Meat During Pregnancy?

Posted on November 14, 2016

pregnant woman in red meat aisle at grocery store

Red meats include beef, pork and lamb which is a great source of protein, zinc and iron. These are essential nutrients that every pregnant woman should consume in adequate amounts during pregnancy. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health completed a study that found an additional serving of red meat in one’s diet increased the total mortality rate by 13 percent. That’s enough for any person to cut down on their red meat intake. Recently, research for the Nurses’ Health Study II gave reason on why pregnant women should reduce their red meat diet to benefit their own health and the health of their growing babies.

The Nurses’ Health Study II

The study included pregnancies free of previous gestational diabetes and other chronic diseases. The data compiled from this study revealed that those "women with the highest intake of animal protein had a greater risk of developing gestational diabetes. Other findings of this study showed that the substitution of poultry and fish significantly lowered this risk, and that substituting 5 percent of animal protein for vegetable protein may reduce the risk by half. "

The Recommended Daily Protein for Pregnant Women 

On a daily basis, pregnant women should consume around 71 grams of protein per day. It’s recommended that pregnant women should eat at least five ounces of legumes and lean meat daily. This adds up to two three-ounce servings of fish, poultry or meat. Pregnant women who are vegetarians can consume enough protein by eating low fat dairy, tofu, nuts and beans. All around, a plant-based diet is healthier than consuming red meat.

For pregnant red meat consumers, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up red meat completely during your pregnancy. But, it’s wise to at least attempt to cut back on portions and frequency. Go with poultry or fish more often.

Staffed by nutrition specialists, Peconic Bay Medical Center’s nutritional services center offers comprehensive dietary planning for a range of medical conditions. Through our medical nutrition therapy program, patients work with a Registered Dietician to create an individualized plan for health.

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