We all know that there are certain foods to avoid during pregnancy; raw fish, alcohol and cold cuts are often listed among them. Pork, however, has a long history of problems, and it is no surprise that pregnant women look askance at it as well. Chain letters are still sent relating horror stories and warnings increasing porks bad name. Lets look at why pork has a bad reputation and whether it is relevant today, especially for expectant mothers.
The Question of Contagion
Between religious prohibitions and a variety of persistent stories about the evils of pork, it isnt hard to imagine why pregnant women may wonder whether or not it is safe to eat the other white meat. For many centuries pork did, indeed contain trichinella cysts or undeveloped larvae.
The resulting disease, trichinellosis is caused when these cysts are released by stomach acids; travel into the small intestines and through the blood stream to the muscles where they encyst again. The cycle repeats itself.
But is Pork Responsible?
There was a time when pork was a prime factor in human contamination. Today that is simply not the case. Pork is raised in completely different conditions and has not been associated with trichinella for quite some time.
In fact, you have a much greater chance of contracting this, or any other food borne illness by eating wild game, horse, walrus or–heaven forbid–cougar.
Of course, no matter what you eat, it is possible to eradicate the risk by simply cooking the meat well enough. Trichinella is killed at a temperature of 140F and the recommended temperature for cooking pork is 160F; more than enough to solve any problem.
Additionally, of the 25 or so cases reported in the US each year, none have been attributed to commercially raised pork. They always trace the infection back to wild game.
What Does it All Mean?
Not to put too fine a point on it, there is no reason not to eat pork during your pregnancy, as long as it comes from a reliable source and has been cooked sufficiently. In fact, pork has changed dramatically over the years and is no longer the fat laden meat of the past.
Many cuts of pork compare favorably with chicken and surpass beef in nutritional content. The key is, however, to find a producer that offers pork that is raised humanely and is kept on a vegetarian diet without the addition of routine antibiotics and growth hormones. This kind of pork is even better for you, just as grass-fed beef is nutritionally superior to commercially raised lot cattle.
To find humanely raised organic pork in your area you need only look online. There are several producers that now offer this kind of meat, and once if they sell pork the odds are good that they can also provide you with other humanely raised. These include the aforementioned grass-fed beef and lamb, possibly even bison and poultry.
Dont Worry Enjoy your Pork
If you choose to enjoy a slice of nitrate/nitrite free bacon, a ham sandwich or cook up some pork roast while expecting there is no cause for concern. You can count on pork as one of your many sources of healthy, lean protein throughout your pregnancy.
Mix it up with wild caught fish, grass-fed beef and lamb, organic poultry and whole organic eggs and you have it made. Variety makes all the difference when you are trying to include a broad nutritional spectrum.
Just remember that babies arent made from protein alone: make sure you get plenty of whole grains, produce and water. For more tips on eating right during your pregnancy, make sure to check other articles on this website.
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