Come winters and we Indians love to munch on groundnuts in the sun. The love for peanuts is even celebrated during the festival of Lohri, which falls on 13th January. While nothing beats munching groundnuts and chatting away the evenings, if you are expecting you may be concerned whether you can have groundnuts during pregnancy. Why, when you are expecting, there is so much of emphasis on diet that one proceeds with caution and determine whether a particular food will harm the baby in any way.
Well, groundnuts have been used in our households since ancient times – a lot of us still swear by groundnut oil used for cooking our daily meals. So are groundnuts safe during pregnancy? What are the benefits of eating groundnuts during pregnancy and what could be the possible risks? Let’s figure out.
Is it safe to eat peanuts during pregnancy?
Well, unless you or your close family members run an allergy to peanuts or foods containing peanuts, groundnuts should not really pose any threat. It may be added here that instances of peanut allergies in India are very low, unlike the US. Peanuts and its products such as chocolates, granola bar or even the peanut chikki are safe to be consumed during pregnancy provided you and your immediate family do not suffer from any related allergies.
Sometimes, women with a family history of asthma or eczema are advised not to eat peanuts during pregnancy. However, this recommendation lacks research so do ask your doctor why is particular he is saying so.
Infact, it is seen that mothers who eat peanuts during pregnancy and kids who are introduced to peanuts at an early stage are less likely to develop peanut allergies later in life.
Well, should you just munch on those groundnuts because they taste well or do they help in your pregnancy in some way? Let’s discuss the benefits of eating peanuts during pregnancy.
Benefits of eating groundnuts during pregnancy
Peanuts are not only a tasty, crunchy snack that most people love to munch, but also offer many health benefits. If you are pregnant consider including a few peanuts in your diet as a snack.
- Peanuts are one of the few sources of folate, which is a must for expecting mothers in earlier stages of pregnancy to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida
- Proteins are also found in abundance in groundnuts, that help make your baby’s cells and for other bodily functions
- Groundnuts are full of essential vitamins such as Vitamin B6 that promote brain development in kids. If you do have peanuts during pregnancy, chances are you will have one smart child there!
- Rich in vitamin E, having raw peanuts during pregnancy can also make your skin and hair look and feel better
- Minerals like magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese and selenium are also found in abundance in peanuts
- The presence of pantothenic acid, thiamin, riboflavin in peanuts make them powerful antioxidants that can fight free radicals
- The considerable amount of carbohydrates in groundnuts make them an excellent snack for the times you feel exhausted and tired because your body is too busy making it up for the baby
- Peanuts are also high in calories – which is fine as long as you are on this side of weight gain during pregnancy. However, if you are already struggling with weight issues, you may need to limit your intake of groundnuts during pregnancy
Precautions when eating peanuts during pregnancy
Anything in excess could be harmful during this delicate period of your life. So make sure that you eat groundnuts that are crunchy, and not mushy or soggy in anyway which can be indicative of a fungal growth that may cause food poisoning. Buy fresh, and avoid old and stale peanuts.
Additionally, do consider the calories you are consuming through peanuts. Peanuts are high in them, so can make you gain weight quickly – which may be a good thing for many but may not be advisable if you are already overweight. Weight gain quickly and suddenly during pregnancy can cause serious complications during pregnancy, so make sure to have a word regarding this with your doctor.
Signs and symptoms of a peanut allergy
Even though you may have eaten peanuts before getting pregnant, there could be chances, though remote, that you develop peanut allergy during the gestation period. Do reach an emergency if you notice-
- Diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting
- Itchy skin, itchy eyes, soreness, or rashes on the skin
- Swelling in lips or tongue
- Cough, runny nose or sudden blockage
- Wheezing, dizziness and shortness of breath
- Anaphylaxis- which can be life threatening as it causes drop in blood pressure, acceleration in heart rate and blocks airways. Immediately reach ER
Eating boiled peanuts during pregnancy
Boiling the peanuts before eating is one of the many ways you can include this tasty nut in your prenatal diet – minus the calories! Yes! By boiling raw groundnuts with skin in salted water, peanuts become like a legume and the calories and fat content is reduced. They also become significantly higher in flavonoids and polyphenols than raw or dry-roasted peanuts. These are antioxidants can help damage free radicals and save you from many serious diseases.
Additionally, boiled groundnuts also have more fiber than their dry counterparts which can help you better manage the common problem of constipation during pregnancy. All in all, boiled groundnuts fare better on nutritional account that raw or dry roasted versions.
Some of us, like me, may like to munch on salty peanuts – which is alright if you are watching your sodium intake. Too much salt consumption during pregnancy can bring about the trouble of gestational hypertension which really isn’t good news.
You can also eat raw groundnuts during pregnancy, just be aware that they have the most fats and calories. But I have to admit, I love them the most.
Peanut butter during pregnancy – is it safe?
Well, if peanuts do not trigger any uncomfortable or allergic reaction in your body then there is no harm in adding peanut butter to your prenatal diet. Infact, polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants are present in plenty in peanut butter too. And you can safely include other foods that have groundnuts as one of the ingredients.
Some of my friends add peanuts to dips and have them with regular fruits. Trust me these dips taste heavenly due to the creaminess of peanuts. You may also like to make peanut chutney as a regular accompaniment to your idlis and dosas.
All in all, peanuts and peanut butter are safe for you during pregnancy provided you are yourself not allergic to them. But then do consult your doctor who can advise you better with respect to your weight and body types.