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Can You Have Goat Cheese While Pregnant 2023? Is It Safe?
Eating safely and healthily during pregnancy is vital for the well-being of both mom and infant. However, hormonal changes and morning sickness can affect eating habits, especially during the early stages of pregnancy.
Furthermore, foods that are considered risky can add to diet restrictions, as these should be avoided where possible because of the risk they pose from potentially harmful bacteria.
Food poisoning is unpleasant, but it can also be serious depending on the severity and the type of bacterial infection involved. Therefore, preparing food carefully and cooking everything thoroughly before consumption is always best. When buying dairy products such as cheese, it is ideal to stick to pasteurized products during pregnancy and when breastfeeding.
But can you have goat cheese while pregnant? Does this fall into the high-risk category like some other cheeses that are best avoided during the entire duration of pregnancy and beyond?
Can You Eat Goat Cheese While Pregnant?
Goat cheese has become a popular alternative to the many kinds of cheese traditionally made with cow’s milk. It is also considered a healthy alternative because it contains essential vitamins and minerals. Goat cheese is also easier to digest than cow’s milk cheeses.
Although goat cheese has a high-fat content, it is one of the safer cheeses to eat, particularly for those who are lactose intolerant.
As mentioned, safe cheese consumption during pregnancy is essential and should not be ignored. A health care professional can guide expectant moms through safe eating habits during this time.
This is important because certain foods, including cheeses, can put both mother and baby at risk of illness. The general rule is that hard cheeses and cheeses made with pasteurized milk are safe to consume while pregnant. This includes pasteurized goat cheeses.
What is pasteurized cheese?
Pasteurized milk products, including pasteurized cheeses, are products treated with heat before they enter the food chain. This kills harmful pathogens, making them safer than those made from raw milk.
Many kinds of cheese are manufactured with pasteurized milk, making them the safest to eat during pregnancy.
Unsafe Goat Cheese For Pregnant Women
Navigating the list of unsafe food for pregnant women can be quite daunting, and at the top of it are improperly prepared (i.e., not thoroughly cooked) seafood and unpasteurized dairy products.
Cheeses that are mold-ripened, including mold-ripened goat cheese, whether pasteurized or unpasteurized, should be avoided, and so should cheese with a white outside coating.
Unpasteurized goat’s cheese, whether hard goat cheese or soft goat cheese, is also unsafe for pregnant women to consume, as are blue cheeses.
Can you have feta cheese while pregnant? Feta is made from sheep’s milk or a mixture of sheep and goat milk. It is a soft cheese and therefore is not recommended to be eaten during pregnancy.
The main reason for avoiding soft cheese, cream cheese, and the other cheese products mentioned is that they may contain Listeria bacteria which can lead to listeriosis. The symptoms of listeriosis range from maternal fever, nausea, and diarrhea all the way to fetal death.
This bacterium is common on farms, and livestock is usually carriers. Therefore, any product that is made from an animal infected with Listeria will also contain this bug. Even low temperatures such as those encountered during the refrigeration of food cannot kill this bacteria, so infection is still likely to occur, even if food items are stored correctly.
In pregnant women, complications can include miscarriage and stillbirth. Usually, pasteurization destroys such bacteria, and this is why pasteurized products are best for expectant mums.
Types of Goat Cheese Safe For Pregnant Women
Pregnant women do not need to avoid dairy products altogether, which is good news as they can often be part of pregnancy food cravings.
Raw goat milk should not be bought as it is considered a health risk to the public, but there are many kinds of goat cheese available that only use pasteurized milk in manufacturing.
Numerous goat milk products are available, including yogurt, ice cream, and a number of soft and hard cheeses.
Because of the process involved with making goat cheese, the following are safe for pregnant women:
- Hard cheeses
- Pasteurized cheeses
Hard cheeses are the safest choice for pregnant women; this is also the case with goat cheese. Hard goat cheese holds less moisture within it, making it a more hostile environment for harmful bacteria to thrive.
To be on the safe side, it is best to choose aged or matured goat cheese similar to traditional cheddar cheese. Aged cheeses and mature cheeses tend to be naturally firmer. One good example of a hard cheese made from goat’s milk is Gouda which is made in the Netherlands.
Benefits of Pasteurized Goat Cheese For Pregnant Women
Although goat cheese is high in saturated fat, it has some beneficial nutrients during pregnancy. These can help provide vital vitamins and minerals to both mom and baby.
The nutrients in goat cheese can also help complement any extra vitamins and minerals that may be taken in supplement form during this time, such as folic acid, which helps to prevent certain congenital disabilities.
Pasteurization means that women can enjoy some goat cheeses safely. In addition, goat cheese is easier to digest than cheese made from cow’s milk. This is thought to be because goat milk is lacking in B-casein proteins, also known as A1 proteins.
It is this form of protein that has been linked to causing the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Goat milk also contains simpler fat molecules, making it easier for humans to digest goat milk-containing products.
Apart from easier digestibility, pregnant women can also benefit from the vitamins and minerals found in goat cheeses. These include calcium, which helps with bone development, zinc, which helps strengthen the immune system, and copper, which helps the body absorb iron. Dairy is also a reasonable source of magnesium which can aid sleep.
The Bottom Line
Pasteurization, hard cheeses, and no mold-ripened cheeses are the mandatory criteria when choosing which cheese to eat.
Because of diet preferences or cravings, pregnant women are 10 times more likely to get listeriosis than other adults. This main threat–from goat cheese–comes in the form of the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, and this is why pregnant women need to safeguard themselves and their infants by eating cheeses only made with pasteurized goat’s milk.
Is goat cheese safe during breastfeeding? The same rules apply to post-pregnancy, as taking risks by eating soft goat cheeses or goat cheese made with unpasteurized milk can increase the chances of the mother becoming infected with Listeria. However, Listeria is mainly spread from mom to baby via the placenta.
It is unclear whether Listeria passes through breast milk from the mother to the infant; therefore, the risk is considered extremely low. However, breastfeeding women must remain healthy; this is why pasteurized cheeses are the safest option while pregnant and during breastfeeding.
Eating pasteurized cheeses while pregnant or breastfeeding can help pass vital nutrients to the child, many of which can aid its development. Therefore there is no need to stop eating cheese altogether because of the fear of infection.
Pasteurization is exceptionally effective at killing harmful bacteria and preventing them from contaminating popular everyday food products that millions of people enjoy daily.
+ 7 sources
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- Sutterhealth.org. (2022). Lactose Intolerance and Goat Cheese | Sutter Health. [online] Available at: https://www.sutterhealth.org/ask-an-expert/answers/lactose-intolerance-goat-cheese#:~:text=Cheeses%20made%20from%20both%20cow’s,better%20than%20cow’s%20milk%20cheese.
- NHS Choices (2022). Foods to avoid in pregnancy. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/foods-to-avoid/
- CDC (2022). Raw Milk Questions and Answers. [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/rawmilk/raw-milk-questions-and-answers.html
- Ny.gov. (2022). Folic Acid: the Vitamin That Helps Prevent Birth Defects. [online] Available at: https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/1335/#:~:text=Folic%20acid%20can%20reduce%20certain,tube%20defect%20is%20spina%20bifida.
- Saba, N., Mushtaq, F. and Wahied Khawar Balwan (2022). AN OVERVIEW OF A1 AND A2 MILK AND ITS IMPACT ON HUMAN HEALTH. [online] ResearchGate. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/361757297_AN_OVERVIEW_OF_A1_AND_A2_MILK_AND_ITS_IMPACT_ON_HUMAN_HEALTH?enrichId=rgreq-d2b2d41d4ca9ec148445abe92529d626-XXX&enrichSource=Y292ZXJQYWdlOzM2MTc1NzI5NztBUzoxMTc0MzUwNzgyODMyNjQyQDE2NTY5OTg0NTM3OTc%3D&el=1_x_2&_esc=publicationCoverPdf
- Center (2021). Listseria from Food Safety for Moms to Be. [online] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/food/health-educators/listeria-food-safety-moms-be
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