Nutrition Q&A: Foods to avoid during pregnancy

Nutrition and Dietetics expert, Parvathy Radhakrishnan answers readers’ questions on nutrition. Get your doubts cleared and see them featured on our FAQ page every Wednesday.
This week’s answers:

1.Dear madam, is it safe for kids to have eggs with the yolk? Will it lead to cholesterol problem over time?
It is alright for children to eat egg yolk as long as it is part of a balanced healthy meal. In children regular consumption of fast foods and unhealthy snacks that contain trans fatty acids and cholesterol is a bigger problem. This kind of eating will ultimately lead to plaque build up in the blood vessels.

2. Hi. I am in my first trimester. I read a lot about pregnancy foods but am not sure if I should follow them. Is there anything specific that I should avoid? Pl help.
Several foods like papaya, dates, pineapple are considered harmful to pregnant women.
The foods that actually harm the baby or cause defects are
· Raw or semi ripe papaya as it contains papain and chymopapain that could cause physiological abnormalities or induce abortion. Fully ripe papaya is safe to eat.
· Fishes that are high in mercury content like shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and fish as sushi. The larger the fish the more mercury it will contain.
· Undercooked or raw shellfish, poultry or meat, eggs
· Excess eating of liver – can cause Vitamin A toxicity that may lead to birth defects
· Excessive drinking of coffee and herbal teas
· Uncooked or raw vegetables and sprouts from restaurants
· Unpasteurised milk and its products

3. Dear Parvathy, your article on cholesterol is very useful. Please tell us something about role of oil in increasing cholesterol.
Unsaturated fatty acids as found in vegetable oils do not increase blood cholesterol.. But saturated fatty acids as found in hydrogenated or processed coconut oil raises LDL cholesterol. So unless you are using virgin coconut oil, it is best to avoid coconut oils since most of it found in commercial products are hydrogenated.

4. Hi, my son is 10 years old and has wheezing. He is on inhalers for past 3 years. He develops hairline fractures when he falls. Is ther any diet to make his bones stronger?
Good bone health requires calcium and Vitamin D .

  • Calcium is got mainly from milk, cheese, small fishes where the bones are eaten, soyabeans, tofu, molasses, green leafy vegetables, oranges, nuts.
  • Vit D from milk, egg yolk, liver, fish and from sunlight (that is playing out in the open). Even a brief exposure to sunlight is said to equal 200 IU vitamin D.
  • Other minerals indicated in bone health are silicon, boron, copper, manganese, zinc. These can be got from nuts, whole grains and cereals, pulses and fish.
  • Restrict fast foods and highly salted snacks as these can cause loss of calcium.
  • Exercise also increases bone density.

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