You’ve been invited to a cheese and wine night with your girlfriends. Now that you are pregnant, although you clearly know that you’ll be opting for a water over a wine, you’re not sure about which cheese, if any, is safe to eat while pregnant.
Well, when it comes to eating cheese during pregnancy, I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you.
Let’s start with the good.
There are some cheeses that are perfectly safe to consume during pregnancy (woohoo!). The best types of cheese that you can enjoy while pregnant are hard cheeses.
Hard cheese varieties that are safe during pregnancy include:
These types of cheese are considered safe because they have a low moisture content and therefore don’t provide adequate conditions for bacteria, like listeria, to grow in.
Which brings me to the bad news.
Unfortunately, you will need to avoid some types of cheese during your pregnancy due to listeria risk. Soft cheeses have a higher moister content which means they can be an ideal environment for harmful bacteria, like listeria, to grow and therefore are recommended to avoid during pregnancy.
Soft cheese varieties that should be avoided during pregnancy (even if they are made with pasteurised milk) include:
- Blue-veined cheeses such as Danish blue, gorgonzola and Roquefort
- Goat’s and sheep’s cheeses
- Cottage cheese
The exception to the rule…
It’s not all bad news. You can safely consume the soft and blue-veined cheeses mentioned above if they are cooked at a temperature above 65°C and eaten when hot. The high heat kills any bacteria meaning the risk of listeria infection is reduced.
The bottom line…
Cheese is a great source of calcium which is an important nutrient for maintaining your muscle and bone strength during pregnancy but also vital for the development of your baby’s muscles and bones. Therefore, I don’t recommend completely cutting out cheese from your diet during pregnancy, but rather take some extra caution when it comes to which varieties, portion sizes and cooking temperatures.
While the risk of listeria is very low in Australia, doing everything you can to avoid it is critical to your baby’s health. If you are concerned about listeria risk during your pregnancy and would like some more information and tips on how to avoid infection, make sure you check out my YouTube clip on ‘how to avoid listeria during pregnancy’.
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