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Pregnancy

      Eggs during pregnancy

      Read time: 5 minutes

      Packed with protein and a variety of important vitamins and minerals, there’s no question that eggs are a great source of nutrition in our diets.

      However, raw or runny eggs can also carry the  risk of salmonella food poisoning. So is it safe to eat eggs during pregnancy? And are runny eggs off the menu?

      Can you eat eggs when pregnant?

      The current Food Standards Agency advice is that it’s safe to eat raw hen eggs during pregnancy, as long as they bear the British Lion mark1. That’s because eggs with the Red Lion mark have been laid by hens which have been vaccinated against salmonella. That means there’s no need cut out runny, fried or soft-boiled hens eggs from your diet when you’re pregnant.

      However, you’ll need to make sure that any eggs you eat which don’t carry the Lion mark are thoroughly cooked until the whites and yolks are solid. This will destroy any salmonella bacteria, making them safe to eat. While salmonella is unlikely to harm your baby, it can cause you to experience diarrhoea, vomiting and a raised temperature which can be particularly unpleasant to deal with when you’re pregnant.

      All other types of eggs – including duck, goose and quail eggs – should be cooked thoroughly until both the whites and yolks are solid2.

      The benefits of eating eggs during pregnancy

      From vitamins and minerals to essential fats and proteins, eggs are packed full of nutrients to support you and your growing baby.

      Their high protein content (which includes the full range of amino acids) supports healthy bone and muscle growth as well as supporting the immune system. While many people associate egg whites as a good source of protein, it’s actually more concentrated in egg yolk. However, because there’s more ‘white’ than ‘yolk’ in an egg, the white contains higher amounts overall3.

      In terms of vitamins, egg yolks are also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B12 and vitamin B2, helping to keep your skin, eyes, blood, immune system, nervous system and metabolism healthy, as well as folate, which is especially useful for during pregnancy.

      Egg yolks also contain important minerals like phosphorus, iodine and selenium, as well as essential omega-3 fatty acids which play an important role in the development of your baby’s brain, nervous system and vision. Studies have also found free range eggs to contain 3-4 times the amount of Vitamin D4 to those from factory farms.

      Read on to discover more about eating eggs safely during pregnancy. Or get the lowdown on which foods to avoid in pregnancy.

      As long as they bear the British Lion mark, it’s safe to eat soft scrambled eggs during pregnancy. If in doubt, make sure they’re ‘hard scrambled’, ensuring that the yolk and whites are thoroughly cooked through.

      Yes, poached eggs are safe to eat during pregnancy, as long as they’re stamped with the British Lion mark.

      Fried eggs with a runny yolk (‘sunny-side up’) are safe to eat during pregnancy, as long as the eggs you use carry the British Lion mark. Eggs which do not carry the British Lion mark need to be fried on both sides until both the yolk and the whites are cooked through.

      While soft-boiled (or ‘dippy’) eggs used to be off the menu during pregnancy, they’re now considered safe, as long as you use eggs that bear the British Lion mark.

      1. Food Standards Agency. New advice on eating runny eggs [Online]. 2017. Available at: https://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2017/16597/new-advice-on-eating-runny-eggs [Accessed March 2020]
      2. NHS. Foods to avoid in pregnancy [Online]. 2020. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/foods-to-avoid-pregnant/ [Accessed March 2020]
      3. NCBI. The Golden Egg: Nutritional Value, Bioactivities, and Emerging Benefits for Human Health [Online]. 2019. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6470839/ [Accessed March 2020]
      4. NCBI. Free-range farming: a natural alternative to produce vitamin D-enriched eggs [Online]. 2014. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24607306 [Accessed March 2020]

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