Fruits are nature’s gift to mankind in terms of taste, nutrition and fiber. Their numerous beneficial properties make them the obvious and most recommended food for each and every pregnant woman. But across many cultures, there revolve a lot of theories about papaya and pineapple causing harm to pregnancy and maternal health. Many women are unsure about consuming any amount of papaya or pineapple in pregnancy. Are these fears real or completely unfounded? Let’s find out in this article.
Fully ripe papayas are great during pregnancy as they are abundant in Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Potassium, Beta-carotene and antioxidants. They are also a great source of fiber which help ease constipation, a common pregnancy complaint. However, unripe or asemi ripe papayas should be completely avoided during pregnancy. If the papaya is not fully ripe, its pulp contains a milky white substance called latex. The latex in turn contains a powerful enzyme called Papain. Studies show that ingestion of even small amounts of papain can cause pre-term contractions and miscarriage in a pregnant woman. Along with that, latex in papayas can also trigger severe allergic reactions affecting the maternal and fetal health. Papaya skin and seeds must also not be consumed during pregnancy. Unripe or semi ripe papayas have a green outer skin which turns yellow as the papaya ripens. A small serving of fully ripe papaya can be a healthy pregnancy snack as they hardly contain any latex but if you are unsure about the ripeness level of the fruit, it’s best to avoid papaya consumption during pregnancy.
Pineapples are a great source of Vitamin C, Manganese and dietary fiber. They are also very rich in Thiamine which is an important B complex vitamin. Thiamine helps convert carbohydrates into energy and therefore, is great for the pregnant woman and her developing child. This fruit also has small amounts of iron and folate present. A serving of fresh pineapple is a great snack during pregnancy but it is important to know that pineapples contain an enzyme called Bromelain. This enzyme can cause the body to break down its proteins and since the developing fetus in your body is made of protein, consumption of excess bromelain can cause miscarriage and abnormal bleeding. Having excess amounts of pineapple can be harmful for the pregnancy due to this reason. Having more than seven servings of pineapples at a given time is not recommended but you can always indulge in a small cup of fresh cut pineapple! Also, processing fresh pineapple for canning or juicing purposes destroys considerable amount of bromelain. So if you are still hesitant about having the fresh fruit, you can always enjoy a serving of canned pineapple or its juice (although, canned fruit and juice have much lower nutritional value than a fresh fruit).
Hence, we can safely say that a cup of any fresh cut, fully ripe fruit serves as a great and extremely healthy pregnancy snack for you and your developing fetus.
The author is a CAPPA certified childbirth educator.