Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy: Fruits and Vegetables

Dr. Rita Goel

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Rita Goel

Gynaecologist and Obstetrician

7 min read


If you are planning a baby or are already expecting it, this article can help you understand which foods you should avoid during this phase. However, do consult a doctor for personalised advice.

Key Takeaways

  • Raw and semi-cooked foods have a high chance of infecting pregnant women
  • Contaminated foods contain parasites such as E. coli, Listeria, and more
  • These foods may also harm foetal development leading to congenital disabilities

During pregnancy, doctors ask expecting mothers not to consume certain foods. Whatever you eat during this time is crucial for your health and the fetus growing in your womb. Usually, foods to avoid during pregnancy include under cooked fish or meat, caffeinated beverages, and more. They can lead to infections such as food poisoning, which can severely damage your and your baby's health parameters. Note that pregnancy food to avoid can vary as per location and availability. To know in detail about Indian foods to avoid during early pregnancy and late pregnancy, read on.

Fish Loaded With Mercury

Mercury is an extremely toxic element which is not safe even if the intake is nominal [1]. It is usually found in polluted seawater, and from there, it gets into the body of fish. Therefore, consuming high-mercury fish during pregnancy can affect your kidneys, immune system, nervous system, and more. 

It can also hamper the development of the child you are carrying to a moderate or severe extent. Usually, fish that are found in India and loaded with mercury are the following:

  • King mackerel
  • Shark
  • Tuna
  • Mahi-mahi

However, while these high-mercury fish are among the foods to avoid during pregnancy, you can consume the following low-mercury fish:

  • Rohu
  • Katla
  • Sardines
  • Tilapia
  • Cod
  • Trout
  • Salmon
  • Anchovies
  • Pomfret
Additional Read: Folic Acid During PregnancyAvoid During Pregnancy: Fruits And Vegetables

Semi-cooked Fish

Consuming raw or under cooked fish can lead to infections by viruses, bacteria or parasites. They include Listeria, SalmonellaVibrio, norovirus, and more. However, a few of these infections may have a limited impact, like dehydration and weakness on you, keeping your baby safe. 

But certain infections can also impact your baby and lead to severe or fatal consequences. For example, it has been observed that pregnant women are highly susceptible to Listeria infections. As per data, if you are expecting, you are at a ten times higher risk of getting Listeria infection than other people [2]. 

The sources of Listeria include contaminated water, plants or soil, and the bacteria can infect raw fish while they are being processed. After you consume fish contaminated with Listeria, the bacteria may directly infect your baby through your placenta, despite you not showing any symptoms. 

 As a result, there can be severe health concerns for you and the baby, such as premature delivery, stillbirth, miscarriage, and more [3]. Thus, semi-cooked fish become one of the key things to avoid in early pregnancy.

Semi-cooked or Processed Meat

Just like under cooked fish is not advisable for pregnant women, semi-cooked or processed meat is also one of the foods to avoid during pregnancy. 

It boosts the chance of getting infected by bacteria or parasites such as Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli, and Toxoplasma. These bacteria can severely damage the health of your newborn. A few possible conditions from these bacteria include stillbirth or neurological disorders such as epilepsy, blindness and intellectual disability. 

Consider consuming processed meat only when kept in the oven until steaming hot.

Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables

Apart from semi-cooked fish and meat, unwashed or unpeeled fruits and vegetables are highly likely to be contaminated with microorganisms. 

Common bacteria and parasites that may affect the quality of fresh produce include Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, Toxoplasma, and more. They can find their place in these fruits and vegetables via the soil or through handling. 

There are no such fruits and vegetables to avoid during pregnancy, but ensure that they are washed or peeled thoroughly before being cooked and consumed. This practice is not just for your pregnancy duration; you can always follow it to keep infections at bay.

Additional Read: Immunity During Pregnancy

Raw Eggs

You may become infected with Salmonella bacteria during pregnancy by consuming raw eggs. Common symptoms of salmonella infections are as follows:

  • Vomiting
  • Stomach ache
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Diarrhoea

Though it may rarely lead to uterus cramps causing stillbirth or premature childbirth, it is wise to avoid its intake and keep raw eggs in your list of foods to avoid during pregnancy. Common preparations which usually have raw eggs include:

  • Poached eggs
  • Lightly scrambled eggs
  • Homemade ice cream
  • Homemade salad dressings
  • Homemade mayonnaise
  • Homemade cake icings
  • Hollandaise sauce

Commercial products with raw eggs may be harmless for your health as they are prepared with pasteurised eggs. 

However, it is wise to study the product label to be sure. To remain healthy during pregnancy, consume eggs that have been cooked thoroughly or go for pasteurised eggs. 

You can go back to eating raw eggs once the pregnancy ends.

Raw Sprouts

As you already know, Salmonella bacteria are a potential hazard during pregnancy; even raw sprouts such as mung bean, radish, clover, and alfalfa sprouts may be contaminated with the bacteria. As a result, it is prudent to avoid consuming raw sprouts altogether and eat them only after being cooked.

Additional Read: Early symptoms of pregnancyUnhealthy food in pregnancy

Organ Meat

Organ meat is loaded with nutrients such as copper, iron, selenium, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and more, all of which can benefit you and the newborn. 

However, consuming too much animal-based vitamin A is not recommended during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, as it can lead to miscarriage or congenital malformation. 

So if you love consuming organ meat, note that it is one of the foods to avoid in the first month of pregnancy and perhaps a few more. It is better to consult your Ob-Gyn to understand when you can start consuming organ meat again.

Raw Milk, Cheese, Yoghurt And Fruit Juice

Unpasteurized milk, cheese, and fruit juices are also some of the foods to avoid during pregnancy as they are home to harmful bacteria like CampylobacterE. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria.

If you are pregnant, it is prudent not to consume anything made with raw milk as it can infect you with these bacteria. These products can be cheese, ice cream, yogurt, or anything else. However, there is no problem in consuming pasteurized milk and products made from it. This is because, during pasteurization, the milk is heated at a high temperature, killing the harmful bacteria.

Apart from raw milk, fresh fruit juice also has a high chance of being contaminated, so it is better not to consume it during pregnancy. However, for a change of taste, you can drink fruit juice occasionally if you trust the source.


Many of us begin our day with a cup of tea or coffee and have our favorite caffeinated beverage several times a day. However, when pregnant, doctors may ask you to limit your caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day [4]. 

This is because your body absorbs caffeine fast, and it gets immediately transferred to the placenta. As babies and their placentas don't have the enzymes required to digest caffeine, it can lead to a build-up. That's why unfavorable outcomes such as restricted fetal growth and low birth weight are often caused by high caffeine consumption during pregnancy. 

So, adding caffeine to your list of things to avoid during pregnancy is better.

Additional Read: Homemade Tests to Check Pregnancy at Home


During pregnancy, alcohol intake is strictly prohibited, even in a small amount, as exposure to alcohol can hamper a baby's brain development and also lead to miscarriage or stillbirth. 

Apart from this, alcohol can impact the foetus with foetal alcohol syndrome, marked by conditions such as intellectual disability, heart defects, and facial deformities. 

Apart from the foods to avoid during pregnancy, alcohol will be one of the primary things doctors will restrain you from taking. 


Apart from these foods and beverages, processed junk foods also fall into the category of foods to avoid during pregnancy. If you are an expecting mother, follow a balanced diet that provides ample nutrition to you and your baby. If you have any queries or confusion, you can opt for a consultation with gynaecologist at Bajaj Finserv Health. 

Choose from the top specialists based on their ages, experience, genders, languages known, and more, and book an online doctor consultation on the platform within minutes. Then, after getting to know you are pregnant, start following every guideline issued by your doctor to ensure both your baby and you stay at the top of your health parameters!

Published on 9 Feb 2023Last updated on 13 Apr 2023
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Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

Dr. Rita Goel

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Rita Goel

, MBBS 1 , MD - Obstetrics and Gynaecology 3

Dr Rita Goel is a consultant gynecologist, Obstetrician and infertility specialist with an experience of over 30 years. Her outstanding guidance and counselling to patients and infertile couples helps them to access the best treatment possible. She addresses problemsof adolescents and teens especially PCOS and obesity. Besides being a renowned gynaecologist she also has an intense desire and passion to serve the survivors of emotional abuse and is also pursuing a Counselling and Family Therapy course from IGNOU. She helps patients deal with abuse recovery besides listening intently to their story.


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