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When you become pregnant, there are lots of things about your life which change. You need some different sized clothes! You need more sleep! And you need to pay a little more attention to what you’re eating and drinking! There are some foods that are off-limits while you’re expecting. Is wasabi one of them?
Can You Eat Wasabi During Pregnancy?
If a pregnant woman eats small amounts of wasabi, it is not only safe but can have some health benefits. Since pregnancy comes with digestive changes, wasabi may lead to an upset stomach or heartburn, so if this happens to you, stop eating wasabi.
If you are pregnant and enjoy the taste of spicy foods, it is generally safe to eat wasabi. Some women have even reported that eating spicy foods while pregnant has changed their baby’s movements! To be safe however, pregnant women should consider limiting their intake as too much can cause unwanted side effects.
What is Wasabi?
Wasabi is a spicy green paste that typically accompanies sushi as a relish, but is often included in other meal recipes. It has both a pleasant and spicy burn, and affects the nerve endings in your nose more than your tastebuds like traditional chili.
The chemical that gives wasabi its burning sensation is called sinigrin and it belongs to a family of chemicals known as glucosinolates. Glucosinolates can be found in other foods like broccoli and cabbage. When glucosinolates are eaten by themselves they taste bitter, but when mixed with an enzyme (myrosinase) they get converted into allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) which has a pungent flavor.
In addition to having a very strong flavor and odor, wasabi has also been shown to contain micro-nutrients that may contribute to disease prevention – with wasabi containing AITC. Per a study by the CSIRO, AITC has the potential to contribute to the treatment and prevention of metabolic conditions like osteoporosis, dermatitis, diabetes, and some neurological conditions, as well as bowel disorders, obesity, and several forms of cancer.
This research is also backed up by studies exploring the anti-inflammatory effects of AITC, which has been used to treat rheumatic arthralgia, blood circulation, and pain.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Fake Wasabi?
Fake wasabi is a mix of horseradish and mustard flour (both of which are related condiments from the same family as wasabi) that is colored with green food coloring. It is cheaper to produce which is why it is more popular – there is a good chance the ‘wasabi’ at your local eatery is actually just colored horseradish paste.
Fake wasabi is safe to consume if you are pregnant, but consider any effects that traditional mustard or horseradish has on your digestive system. Pregnancy may augment side effects like heartburn which are associated with these condiments.
- Real Wasabi brings out fish taste in seafood dishes, which it does through a spicy aroma rather than taste.
- Fake Wasabi overpowers other flavors through a very strong taste, predominantly due to its mustard component.
What Are the Benefits of Eating Wasabi During Pregnancy?
In addition to the CSIRO study on the benefits for those at risk of, or suffering from metabolic conditions, wasabi also comes with other health benefits that pregnant women can take advantage of. (Do not consume medicinal quantities of wasabi without first consulting your doctor)
- It has antibacterial properties– Studies have shown that some compounds in wasabi, like isothiocyanates, are potent antioxidants and may even help fight bacterial infections.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties– Early research suggests that wasabi might help prevent chronic ailments like heart disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases by suppressing inflammation.
- It may assist with weight loss– Research into wasabi has revealed that it can have an effect on your digestive system by altering the composition of the gut, supporting weight loss and assisting with complications surrounding diabetes.
Side Effects of Wasabi During Pregnancy
Pregnancy affects the body in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways. Sometimes eating certain foods like wasabi can make some of these side effects worse – here are some of the most widely discussed pregnancy symptoms that might be affected by wasabi intake:
- Increased Heartburn: The occurrence of heartburn is very common while being pregnant. Spicy foods like wasabi only increase the intensity of heartburn during pregnancy. And with the baby growing inside the body, it only forces the stomach acids into the muscular tube called the esophagus.
- Morning Sickness: It is one of the most common phenomena during pregnancy. Morning sickness includes vomiting, stomachache, nausea, etc. If a pregnant woman continues to intake wasabi, her morning sicknesses might get worse. (Especially if she is in the first trimester.)
- Diarrhea: What you eat goes through your digestive system. You may find that trouble at the end of that journey is made worse through wasabi consumption.
- Allergies: For some pregnant women, taking wasabi may result in allergic reactions which may worsen the irritation, and also may result in other digestive problems.
Wasabi Alternatives to Consider During Pregnancy
Cravings are absolutely a thing during pregnancy. Sometimes you might feel like something with a bit of a spicy kick! If wasabi isn’t an option for you during pregnancy, try these other options:
- White Pepper: white pepper is an essential spice for a pregnant woman, especially if she’s going through constipation which is very common during pregnancy. So, every pregnant woman should add a little bit of white pepper in her daily diet.
- Black Pepper: Black pepper provides the body with chromium which is required to stabilize the cholesterol and blood sugar level of a pregnant woman. Low chromium in a pregnant body may cause diabetes as well as other heart conditions. So, this spice is important for a pregnant woman.
- Red Raspberry Leaf: Red raspberry is one of the most important spices to add to a pregnant woman’s daily diet as it increases the production of milk. It also tones the uterus and helps with nausea which is a very common occurrence during pregnancy. But the most important benefit of this spice is that. It minimizes the pain during labor and eliminates complications during birth.
- Ginger: The spice ginger gives a pregnant woman instant relief from the morning sickness. It is also an effective treatment for vomiting and nausea. So, taking a little bit of ginger every morning is very helpful for any pregnant woman.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon is an important spice to keep the blood pressure under control during pregnancy. But the intake of this spice also has to be limited.
- Fresh Chives: Fresh Chives is an important spice for a pregnant woman as it causes brain development of the fetus by providing folic acid. Folic acid is also necessary as it reduces the chances of neural tube defect by 70%.
- Cardamom: This spice is considered to be very safe as it prevents blood clots in the body of pregnant women. Even a pinch of cardamom can prove to do miracles.
- Cumin: Cumin helps pregnant women to get rid of inflammation which is a very common occurrence during pregnancy. It stops the occurrence of gas as well.
These spices can be used instead of wasabi for safety sake and can be very beneficial for the unborn baby’s development.
Every pregnant woman waits for the day when her child will finally arrive and give her the utmost happiness. There’s no comparison of the happiness of giving birth to a healthy baby which depends upon how the mother dealt with the previous nine months. This is why every pregnant woman needs to be conscious and knowledgeable about their activities during the months that lead to birth.
There are several restrictions and must-dos during the previous nine months that lead to the birth of the child. A pregnant woman should follow all the dos and dont’s in every step of the way. Because giving birth to a healthy child becomes hard if the steps aren’t followed correctly. This is why making decisions during those nine months can be very stressful and overwhelming.
In this article, we have talked about the safety of wasabi during pregnancy. Wasabi is safe to eat while pregnant, in moderation. However, experts recommend avoiding too much wasabi when pregnant as it may augment some of the more unwelcome pregnancy side effects. If you’re having troubles, try substituting wasabi for more mild spices.
Don’t forget to check out our other articles about eating safely during pregnancy. (including eating horseradish during pregnancy, which is in the same plant family as wasabi!)
Fingers crossed this article has helped you. There isn’t a whole lot out there on the topic! Wishing you a smooth and trouble-free pregnancy!