Strawberries are a delicious and healthy way for pregnant women to consume more fruit. But how about the sugar content, and how do you prep them safely when pregnant?
Strawberries are generally safe to eat when you’re pregnant, as long as they’re thoroughly washed. They’re a great source of folate, vitamin C, fibre and potassium which are all essential during pregnancy.
Smoothies, juices and milkshakes may need one or two quick checks before consuming them. Keep reading and I’ll run through the benefits of strawberries while you’re expecting, plus healthy and safe ways to enjoy them.
Are Strawberries Healthy During Pregnancy? Are There Benefits?
Strawberries are loaded with nutritional benefits. 100 grams of strawberries contains 32 calories. They’re largely made up of water. (source: Nutritionix).
Vitamin C in Strawberries – Great for Pregnancy
Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C with 98% of the recommended daily amount in 100 grams (source: Nutritionix).
Studies found a 36% relative reduction in instances of the placenta coming away from the uterine wall in women who were given vitamin C supplements. However, one thing to note is that many were given these in combination with vitamin E (source: Cochrane).
While it is uncommon to be deficient in vitamin C, having sufficient amounts of vitamin C in your diet is also linked with a lower risk of anemia (Source: CSR). You can also boost your iron intake further with iron-rich foods during pregnancy.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means excess amounts will be flushed out of your system via urine. However, although rare, it is possible for overconsumption of any vitamin to be toxic (source: American Pregnancy Association).
Folate, Fiber and More
A 100 gram serving of strawberries will also provide 6% of the daily recommended amount of folate (source: Nutrition Data). Folate is key for maintaining cell function and supporting normal tissue growth.
Folate has been linked with protecting against fetal structural anomalies, including congenital heart defects. It has also been associated with potentially protecting against preterm birth (source: Obstetrics & Gynecology).
100 grams of strawberries will provide 2 grams of fiber which is 8% of the daily recommended amount (source: Nutrition Data). Fiber is great for helping with constipation during pregnancy (source: USDA).
A serving of this size also contains 4% of the recommended amount of potassium. Potassium is needed along with a healthy amount of sodium to regulate the balance of fluid in cells and with muscle movement (source: The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine).
Food safety still needs to be applied to strawberries. Strawberry bushes grow close to the ground, in soil, which is home to the toxoplasma gondii bacteria, which causes toxoplasmosis.
Although rare, toxoplasmosis can make both mother and baby extremely ill and even cause complications such as including miscarriage (source: CDC). Wash strawberries under running water before consumption. Learn more in our guide on washing fruit and vegetables when you’re pregnant.
Can I Eat Strawberries In Every Trimester (And Early Pregnancy)?
There are no scientific reasons for why you should or should not eat strawberries during any trimester. You can safely enjoy them in early through to late pregnancy. Although there are rumors that strawberries can cause birth marks, which are untrue!
If anything, the high water content and fiber are great for easing first-trimester constipation. Plus, the high vitamin C content is a bonus if you’re finding yourself adverse to citrus fruits, or struggling to get it through your diet.
Can Pregnant Women Drink Strawberry Smoothies or Milkshakes?
When it comes to ordering a strawberry milkshake in restaurants like McDonalds or Burger King, you might be worried about safety. The good news is that milkshakes will have been made from pasteurized milk in most commercial operations, so in that regard they’re safe.
However, some use the ice cream machine (soft serve) to make them, and this isn’t always safe. To read why, check out our ice cream article. If such machines aren’t cleaned properly, listeria can easily grow.
The safest option is to make your own – DIY strawberry milkshakes should be made with pasteurized ice-cream and clean fresh strawberries.
Store-bought strawberry smoothies should have been pasteurized. The same hygiene rules should be applied to smoothie bars; if it seems unhygienic, avoid getting something there. If the shop uses the ice cream machine, it’s better to skip the smoothies due to the same listeria risk.
Smoothies are a great way to get more nutrients, but they can be overkill. They can be high in both sugar and calories. It can sometimes just be better to eat the fruit itself. For example, one cup of a Jamba Juice strawberry smoothie contains 65.9g of sugar and 321 calories! (source: Nutrition Data).
Can I Drink Strawberry Tea When Pregnant?
Strawberry tea is usually made from dried diced strawberries. In this form, strawberry tea is safe, however, there are a few things to keep in mind. Many teas are made from flavorings instead of the real thing, while others might combine strawberries with harmful ingredients.
Avoid pennyroyal, passionflower, and Roman chamomile during pregnancy (source: American Pregnancy). You’ll also want to skip strawberry tea if it’s blended with hibiscus – read our article here to see why.
Here are some pregnancy-safe strawberry tea brands:
- Ahmad Tea Strawberry Sensation Black Tea (but beware of the caffeine as it counts towards your daily intake)
- Tiesta Tea (medium caffeine blend of green tea, pineapple, black tea, mango, natural flavors, rose petals, raspberry, and strawberries.)
- DavidsTea (oolong & strawberries)
Is Strawberry Juice Safe During Pregnancy?
Strawberry juice may potentially be unsafe during pregnancy if it is not pasteurized.
The FDA requires that unpasteurized juices be clearly labeled and carry a warning about potential bacteria (Source: CANR).
Pasteurized strawberry juice should be safe, and this is the type most stores carry. If making strawberry juice at home, practice good food safety and drink the juice fresh, to avoid bacterial contamination. for the same reason, be aware that juice that is advertised as ‘fresh squeezed’ such as at juice bars or farmers’ markets may be unpasteurized and more prone to bacterial contamination. For this reason, stick to pasteurized juices.
Juice tends to have more concentrated sugar and calories as compared to the actual fruit. Also, not all the vitamins in strawberries will make it into the juice along with fiber in the skin and pulp (source: UCDavis Health). If you do shop around for commercial pasteurized juice, check for lower or no added sugar options.
I’m Craving Strawberries – is This Normal?
There are a lot of theories about why we crave certain things, but the truth is that cravings are still a mystery! That said, they’re nothing to worry about. Craving strawberries is not a sign of malnutrition or a health issue.
Cravings are thought to be cultural. So, if you enjoyed strawberries pre-pregnancy, it makes sense to crave them during pregnancy. Fruit is also one of the most common pregnancy cravings (source: AJCN).
Food cravings are often attributed to a change in hormones which impacts your sense of taste and smell (source: Ecology of Food and Nutrition). If you find you’re craving fruit a lot, you might also want to read our guide on why you’re craving citrus.
Healthy Ways to Enjoy Strawberries When Pregnant:
Here are a couple of ideas to increase your strawberry intake:
-Using strawberries as a topping on low-fat yogurt and sprinkled with granola. Read our recommended yogurt brands for pregnancy here.
-Place strawberry halves on skewers and dip in melted dark chocolate, they make great dippers!
-Toss 1 cup of strawberries with 1 cup of low fat cottage cheese.
-Mash strawberries and stir into oatmeal, then top with some walnuts.
-Mix 1/2 cup of diced or cut-up strawberries in a small container and freeze overnight. These will make great ice cubes when you add them to blender drinks!
I hope you found this helpful! Strawberries are a safe and delicious snack while you’re expecting, so long as they’re thoroughly washed first.