Sandwiches make for an easy and satisfying meal, but are Reuben sandwiches safe during pregnancy? When heated properly, corned beef can be safely eaten during pregnancy. However, if it is just warm and not hot (at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit) then you are at risk for contracting an infection from Listeria bacteria (Source: CDC).
A Reuben can be a delicious addition to a pregnancy diet. However, for women who have concerns regarding high blood pressure, cardiovascular health and/or healthy weight gain it is advised to eat this sandwich in moderation.
What is a reuben sandwich?
A reuben is a hearty sandwich first popularized in the US. Reuben sandwiches are traditionally prepared using marbled rye bread, corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and thousand island or Russian dressing. After assembly, this sandwich takes a quick trip to the griddle until it is browned to perfection and hot, melty Swiss cheese begins to ooze out the sides. This calorie-dense meal has the ability to satisfy any soon-to-be mom’s hunger. Try making one at home using this recipe.
The nutritional benefits and concerns of reubens during pregnancy
This hot sandwich is not only delicious, but it also contains important nutrients for mom and baby’s health, such as protein, iron, calcium and even gut-friendly probiotics.
Keep in mind that sandwiches are one of the top ten sources of sodium, so it is important to get enough potassium in other areas of your diet to maintain healthy blood pressure levels (Source: CDC).
Additionally, reubens are a calorically-dense food high in saturated fat and should be eaten in moderation when healthy weight gain or cardiovascular health is a concern.
So how healthy is it to eat a reuben sandwich during pregnancy? Let’s break it down:
Rye is a type of grain that contains less gluten than wheat and makes for a more dense bread, which is why most rye bread found in delicatessens in the US is made from a mixture of rye and wheat flour. Despite its lower gluten content, rye is still not a safe option for pregnant women who have celiac disease or non-celiac wheat sensitivity (Source: Beyond Celiac).
Looking for a healthier swap? Try making your own rye bread at home using dark rye flour which is a 100% whole grain product. Alternatively, you can opt for another whole grain bread. Just look for the word “whole” as the first ingredient on the ingredients list.
Eating whole grains during your pregnancy can help to keep you fuller for longer, reduces your risk for gestational diabetes and pregnancy-related constipation, and serves to feed your friendly gut bacteria (Source: Mayo Clinic).
Swiss cheese is a great source of protein, which is important during pregnancy because your needs for this macronutrient increase by approximately 8 percent (Source: UCSF). From your hair to baby’s toes, getting enough protein is critical for healthy growth and development.
Swiss cheese is also an excellent source of calcium. One (1 oz) slice of Swiss cheese provides 300 mg of calcium which is roughly 30 percent of the amount you need for the entire day (Source: USDA).
When we do not get enough calcium during pregnancy, this mineral is drawn from our bones to support baby’s growth (Source: NIH). For those who can tolerate it, eating cheese is one way to maintain healthy calcium levels during pregnancy, which supports long-term bone health.
Corned beef is a type of deli meat that is used in a reuben sandwich. It is made from beef brisket, a more fatty cut, and is brined in salt prior to cooking.
Red meat, such as corned beef, is a good source of iron. Your iron needs increase from 18 mg per day (preconception) to 27 mg per day while pregnant (Source: NIH ). For reference, one (4 oz) serving of brisket contains 2.17 mg iron (Source: USDA).
Including more iron in your diet is important because iron helps to deliver oxygen to our vital organs and other tissues, including your growing baby. Getting enough iron while pregnant promotes healthy growth and development. Worried that you might not be getting enough? Here are some signs to look for.
Due to this increased need for iron, it is challenging to get enough iron through diet alone during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about taking an iron-containing prenatal vitamin.
Another important nutrient found in corned beef is protein. 1 (4 oz) serving of corned beef contains 23 grams of protein (Source: USDA). Protein is made up of amino acids which are the ‘building blocks’ of life.
While corned beef does contain beneficial iron and protein, it is best eaten in moderation due to its high levels of sodium and saturated fat. Alternatively, eating foods that are higher in potassium and fiber (such as vegetables and fruits) can reduce your risk for conditions such as preeclampsia during pregnancy.
To promote healthy blood pressure levels and increase your likelihood of having a full-term pregnancy, mix up your protein sources. Including a variety of plant-based sources of protein, low-mercury seafood, lean meats, and poultry throughout the week is a great way to ensure that you are getting a spectrum of healthy proteins.
Sauerkraut or ‘sour cabbage’ is a traditional German condiment that is well known for its use on reuben sandwiches. It is made by fermenting cabbage unil it takes on a distinctly sour taste.
This fermented food is rich in the minerals, vitamins and fiber that are found in cabbage. However, unpasteurized sauerkraut also contains a super ingredient – gut-friendly probiotics.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in your gut. They have powerful health benefits, including improving cholesterol levels; enhancing immunity; aiding digestion; improving mood; and reducing the risk of colon cancer to name a few (Source: PubMed).
If you aren’t used to eating sauerkraut or other fermented foods, it is a good idea to ‘start low and go slow’. Use this fermented food sparingly to avoid the unwanted gas and bloating that can occur if too much is eaten too soon.
Eating probiotic-rich foods can be especially beneficial for pregnant women, as your gut bacteria are passed on to your infant when they are born (Source: Microbiome).
Are reubens safe to eat during pregnancy?
Due to concerns regarding potential for bacterial contamination of deli meats, many women wonder if reuben sandwiches are safe to eat during pregnancy. As you have probably heard, Listeria bacteria found in some lunch meats can cause problems for you and your baby (Source: American Pregnancy).
According to the CDC, pregnant women are 10 times more likely to be infected by Listeria than the average non-pregnant adult (Source: CDC). Women are most susceptible to Listeria infection during the third trimester of their pregnancy, due to a natural lowering of the immune system.
How can I prevent listeriosis from a reuben sandwich during pregnancy?
- Make your own corned beef at home.
- Always heat your deli meat to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- When eating out, ask to have your corned beef heated until steaming.
- Store meat sliced at a deli for no more than 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Q & A:
Are reubens safe to eat during pregnancy?
Reuben sandwiches can make for a safe and satisfying meal when heated thoroughly. Pregnant women are at an increased risk of infection from Listeria bacteria. Always make sure to heat your deli meat until steaming (or 160 degrees Fahrenheit).
Are reuben sandwiches a healthy option for pregnant women?
Reubens are calorically-dense and contain essential nutrients important for pregnancy, such as iron, calcium, and protein. If healthy weight gain or blood pressure levels are a concern, make sure to eat this sandwich in moderation.
What are the benefits of eating a reuben sandwich during pregnancy?
A traditional reuben sandwich is topped with sauerkraut which is a fermented food rich in probiotics. Probiotics can help to improve cholesterol levels, enhance immunity, aid in digestion, improve mood, and reduce the risk of colon cancer.