NUTRITION and FITNESS

6 surprising foods you should avoid during pregnancy

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You’re laying off the margaritas. You traded your large coffee for a small. And you’re going for a soft pretzel rather than a hot dog at that baseball game. But what other foods should you steer clear for when you’re expecting? Fox News asked Dr. Nicole Avena, a research neuroscientist, as well as an expert in nutrition, diet and addiction, and the author of “What to Eat When You’re Pregnant,” and consulted the research for the scoop:

1. Licorice
Pregnancy cravings are weird, but you may want to tone down any major hankerings for black licorice. Research published this month in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that children whose mothers ate a lot of licorice when pregnant had IQs that were the equivalent of seven points lower compared to those who had moms who ate little or none of the candy. An occasional treat is fine, of course. (Red candy licorice, while not the most nutritious, is made with corn syrup, artificial flavors and dyes, contains no actual licorice.)

2. Sprouts
Skip this sandwich topper — the tiny greens are known perpetrators of foodborne illness outbreaks, as they may carry salmonella and E. coli. FoodSafety.gov suggests that pregnant women avoid raw alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts. If you really want to eat them, cook them first.

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3. Cantaloupe
Fruit is good for growing mamas, but cantaloupe can cause problems because the melons can carry listeria. And study published this month in the journal mBio shows that the bacteria may cause more miscarriages in early pregnancy than we think. Don’t eat any pre-cut melon halves you buy at the store without washing them first, Avena told Fox News. If you buy a whole one, be sure to scrub the rind well and consume promptly.

4. Fresh squeezed juice
Juice that’s freshly squeezed at your grocery store or local juice joint may seem like the healthiest thing you could drink for you and baby, but, as Avena pointed out, you don’t know if the produce was properly cleaned. Unfortunately, this can put you at risk for a foodborne illness. Pass on the fresh squeezed juice at a restaurant, but feel free to make it yourself at home.

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5. Store-bought chicken salad
The ready-to-eat salad bar is a quick lunchtime pickup, but make it yourself and bring it from home if you’re really jonesing for it. That’s because, as Avena mentioned, you don’t know if it was properly cooked or if it came into contact with other foods that weren’t or potentially contaminated surfaces. At the store, stick to packaged ready-to-eat salads versus the salad bar when possible.

6. Soda
“I personally think soda is worse for pregnant women than coffee,” Avena said. (Note: you can have one or two cups of coffee a day!) She suggests avoiding the source of empty calories completely and getting your sugar rush from dried unsweetened fruit or even a lollipop.