Pregnancy is a time when you have to be extra cautious about what you eat. While some foods are off-limits, others are safe to consume in moderation.
Sausages, for instance, are a popular meat product that many pregnant women crave. But can you eat chicken sausage when pregnant?
In this article, we’ll explore the safety of consuming chicken sausage during pregnancy and provide you with some essential tips to keep in mind.
So, let’s dive in!
Can You Eat Chicken Sausage When Pregnant?
Yes, you can eat chicken sausage when pregnant, but it’s essential to take some precautions to ensure that it’s safe for you and your baby.
Chicken sausage is a type of sausage made from ground chicken meat mixed with various seasonings, fat, salt, and sometimes preservatives or fillers. It can be found in different forms, including fresh sausage, pre-cooked sausage, smoked sausage, and cured sausage.
Fresh chicken sausage is made from uncooked meat that’s either chopped, ground, or pureed. Pre-cooked chicken sausage is made from pureed meat that’s precooked either before or after stuffing into casings. Smoked chicken sausage is another type of cooked sausage that’s smoked in either a smoker or smokehouse over a slow-burning fire. Cured chicken sausage is made with fresh meat that’s salted and then left to air-dry for weeks or months.
The good news is that all types of chicken sausage are safe to eat during pregnancy if they are cooked thoroughly. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends cooking chicken sausages to an internal temperature of 165°F (73.8°C) to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present.
It’s also crucial to pay attention to the type of casing used in the chicken sausage. Most types of sausage casing are safe to eat in pregnancy, including natural casing such as pig/hog or sheep intestines or ones manufactured from collagen. However, if you come across a cured salami type sausage that is wrapped in a plastic skin, rather than a natural edible one, it should be removed before consumption.
What Is Chicken Sausage?
Chicken sausage is a type of sausage made from ground chicken meat and mixed with various seasonings, fat, salt, and sometimes preservatives or fillers. It’s usually made from dark meat and is often flavored with sage, parsley, or other herbs. The meat mixture is then stuffed into an edible, cylindrical casing of skin, which can be made from natural casings such as pig/hog or sheep intestines or ones manufactured from collagen. Chicken sausages can be found in different forms, including fresh sausage, pre-cooked sausage, smoked sausage, and cured sausage.
Compared to traditional sausages that contain a pork base, chicken sausages are lower in fat and calories. They are high in protein and low in fat, making them a good source of iron and zinc. A 4-ounce serving of chicken sausage has about 200 calories, 20 grams of protein, and less than 1 gram of fat. However, it’s important to note that some recipes may include unhealthy ingredients that can adversely affect the nutritional value of the food. To make sure your chicken sausage is as healthy as possible, use boneless whole chickens or a combination of skinned chicken breasts and skinned thighs.
When it comes to pregnancy, it’s safe to eat chicken sausage if it’s cooked thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F (73.8°C) to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present. It’s also crucial to pay attention to the type of casing used in the chicken sausage and avoid any cured salami type sausages that are wrapped in a plastic skin rather than an edible one.
Nutritional Benefits Of Chicken Sausage During Pregnancy
Chicken sausage is a healthy option for pregnant women as it contains high-quality protein, which is essential for the growth and development of the fetus. Protein is also vital for the maintenance and repair of body tissues in both the mother and the baby. Chicken sausage is also a rich source of vitamins, including Vitamin B12, which helps in the formation of red blood cells and supports the nervous system.
Another crucial nutrient found in chicken sausage is iron, which helps in the production of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to different parts of the body. Pregnant women need more iron than non-pregnant women to support their growing fetus and prevent anemia. Chicken sausage is also low in carbohydrates, making it a suitable option for those who are watching their carb intake.
It’s worth noting that some types of chicken sausage may contain high levels of sodium or preservatives, which may not be ideal for pregnant women with certain health conditions. It’s always best to read the nutrition labels carefully and choose chicken sausage with minimal additives or sodium.
Risks Associated With Eating Chicken Sausage During Pregnancy
While chicken sausage can be a safe and healthy food choice for pregnant women, there are some risks associated with it that need to be considered.
One of the main concerns with eating chicken sausage during pregnancy is the risk of bacterial contamination. Raw or undercooked chicken sausage can contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella, listeria, and E. coli, which can cause foodborne illnesses that can be dangerous for both the mother and the baby.
Another risk associated with chicken sausage is the presence of preservatives and additives that may not be safe for pregnant women. Some types of chicken sausage may contain high levels of sodium, nitrates, or nitrites, which can be harmful to the developing fetus.
Finally, pregnant women should be cautious about the type of chicken sausage they choose to eat. Some varieties may contain fillers or other ingredients that are not healthy or safe for pregnancy. It’s important to read labels carefully and choose high-quality chicken sausage made from natural ingredients.
To minimize these risks, pregnant women should always cook chicken sausage thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F (73.8°C) and avoid consuming raw or undercooked sausage. Additionally, it’s essential to practice good food hygiene by washing hands and surfaces frequently and avoiding cross-contamination between raw and cooked foods.
Safe Ways To Consume Chicken Sausage During Pregnancy
Here are some safe ways to consume chicken sausage during pregnancy:
1. Cook chicken sausage thoroughly: As mentioned earlier, it’s crucial to cook chicken sausage to an internal temperature of 165°F (73.8°C) to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature and ensure that the sausage is cooked evenly.
2. Avoid consuming raw chicken sausage: Uncooked chicken sausage may contain harmful bacteria like listeria, which can cause food poisoning and harm your baby. Always cook chicken sausage before consumption.
3. Check the ingredients: When buying chicken sausage, check the label for any ingredients that you may be allergic to or that could harm your baby. Avoid sausages that contain fillers, artificial preservatives, or high levels of sodium.
4. Store chicken sausage properly: Store chicken sausage in the refrigerator at 40°F (4°C) or below to prevent bacterial growth. Do not leave it at room temperature for more than two hours.
5. Limit your intake: While chicken sausage is safe to eat during pregnancy, it’s not the healthiest choice as it can lead to unnecessary pregnancy complications. Hence, it’s recommended that you consume it in moderation and consult your doctor before including it in your pregnancy diet.
Other Meat Alternatives For Pregnant Women To Consider
If you’re pregnant and looking for other meat alternatives besides chicken sausage, there are plenty of options that can provide you with the protein and nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein and can be incorporated into your diet in various ways. You can enjoy them boiled, scrambled, or as an omelet. Legumes such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, and tofu are also great sources of protein and dietary fiber. Nuts like almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, and walnuts, as well as seeds such as pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds, are also healthy sources of protein.
If you’re looking for a meat-like texture and flavor without actually eating meat, there are several plant-based options available. Seitan is a popular meat substitute made from wheat gluten that can be used in dishes like stir-fries, stews, and sandwiches. Tempeh is another option made from fermented soybeans that can be grilled or sautéed and used in salads or sandwiches.
Quinoa is a versatile grain that can be used as a base for salads or served as a side dish. It’s high in protein and also contains essential amino acids that are important for fetal development. Other whole grains like bulgur, buckwheat, and whole wheat couscous are also great sources of protein.