Eggs Benedict is a staple brunch item. Packed with protein and savory in flavor, it can be a nutritious meal.
The classic version of eggs Benedict includes an English muffin, back bacon or Canadian bacon, poached egg, and hollandaise sauce, the star of the dish.
However, due to the cooking process, or lack thereof, it may not be suitable for everyone, including pregnant women. Curious if you should or should not consume eggs Benedict pregnant? Read on to learn more.
Health benefits of eggs Benedict
Eating eggs Benedict may feel like you’re indulging, but it’s actually a meal with some very healthy ingredients.
They are a great source of protein, iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, choline, folate, antioxidants, and omega 3s. All of these nutrients are important during pregnancy.
Protein is made up of amino acids, and they make up our hair, nails, organs, skin, muscles, etc, so it’s important to get enough protein while pregnant for your baby’s growth.
Vitamin D, B12, iron, choline, and folate are important nutrients for healthy brain and immune system development of your baby.
Back bacon is a source of protein and can safely be eaten while pregnant, however, it is high in some less healthy nutrients. Similar to other deli meats, back bacon is processed meat and is high in saturated fat, sodium, and preservatives.
Provides a good source of complex carbohydrates and fiber, especially if it is a whole-grain English muffin. Carbohydrates provide our brain and muscles with quick energy, which is what helps us get through a day of work, school, or growing a healthy baby.
This sauce is what brings the meal together. It includes egg yolks, melted butter, an acid such as lemon juice, salt, and usually cayenne pepper. However, as you’ll read in the next section, hollandaise sauce is not suitable for pregnant women.
Reasons to avoid eggs Benedict during pregnancy
Eggs Benedict may be a meal you were used to eating before getting pregnant, but is it safe to eat eggs Benedict while pregnant?
Raw or undercooked eggs
Eggs Benedict includes lightly cooked egg yolks in the hollandaise sauce, as well as poached. Eating raw eggs is not recommended for pregnant women.
Eggs, even if they are clean and uncracked, may contain salmonella bacteria, which can lead to food poisoning if eaten.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Salmonella is a common cause of food poisoning and symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and flu-like symptoms.
Your immune system is weakened during pregnancy therefore pregnant women are at a higher risk of getting a foodborne illness from Salmonella, which can be dangerous to both you and your unborn baby.
Cooking eggs fully will kill salmonella, therefore pregnant women should avoid raw eggs and/or undercooked eggs. If eggs are not completely cooked, they will have runny yolks, examples are eggs over easy, poached, soft boiled, or sunny side up.
Foods that include undercooked or raw eggs should also be avoided during pregnancy, these include homemade ice cream, homemade caesar salad dressing, as well as some other homemade sauces, homemade mayonnaise, cookie dough, or homemade hollandaise sauce.
As mentioned above, it’s best to avoid foods that include undercooked or raw eggs, or the eggs themselves especially if they are unpasteurized. If you are unsure if an egg is unpasteurized or not, it’s safer to assume it’s not.
How to make eggs safe for pregnant women
Ensure they are fully cooked
Cooked eggs are safe to eat during pregnancy because the harmful bacteria has been killed. These food safety tips from the FDA will help you determine if your eggs are cooked:
- Both the yolk and the white should be completely firm, you should not see any runny yolk
- For fried eggs cook approximately 2-3 minutes per side
- For scrambled eggs, it’s until they are firm and there are no raw or runny eggs left
Another way to know if your eggs are done is to measure the temperature. Dishes that contain eggs should come to an internal temperature of 74℃ (165℉).
The one exception to this advice is if you are using British Lion Eggs. As of October 2017, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK confirmed that pregnant women, and other high-risk groups, can safely eat “raw or lightly cooked hen eggs or foods containing them”, as long as they bear the British Lion stamp. According to the FSA, more than 90% of UK eggs meet this requirement.
Choose pasteurized eggs
Pasteurization is a process that kills harmful bacteria, such as salmonella bacteria without cooking the inside of the egg.
Look for pasteurized eggs in your grocery store. They will be labeled as ‘pasteurized’. There are various forms these eggs can come in including fresh in the shell, liquid, or powdered egg whites.
Products that contain raw or undercooked eggs, such as mayonnaise, ice cream, or salad dressings, that are commercially made and found in stores, are generally safe to eat because they are made with pasteurized eggs.
Store your eggs in the fridge. Cold temperatures slow bacteria growth. Keep them in the main part of the refrigerator as this offers a cooler and more consistent temperature than the door.
Fresh eggs in the shell should be used by the best before the date listed on the carton, and hard-boiled eggs that remain in the shell will last for one week.
Due to the risk that raw eggs may contain disease-causing organisms, such as salmonella, you should always wash your hands and work surface after you cook with raw eggs.
If you are a pregnant woman and love eggs Benedict, there are some safe, and similar alternatives to satisfy your craving.
Hard boiled eggs
Make sure both the yolks and the whites are firm. During pregnancy, you can eat eggs that have been hard-boiled and dishes made with hard-boiled eggs, including egg salad and deviled eggs. Soft-boiled eggs still have a runny yolk, so avoid these.
Scrambled eggs are safe to eat during pregnancy. Confirm the eggs are firm, and there are no slimy or runny parts left.
Casseroles, souffles and other baked egg dishes that come to 160℉ (70℃) are safe to eat. Always be sure to put any leftovers in the fridge as soon as possible.
It’s best to avoid eating eggs Benedict while pregnant. It’s not worth the risk of getting food poisoning. Save eating runny eggs until you deliver your healthy baby.
Find answers to all your pregnancy questions with the Pregnancy Diet: Food & Recipes app. Packed with pregnancy-safe and easy-to-make recipes, as well as an index of foods that you should and should not eat while pregnant, all written and reviewed by certified nutritionists.
- Can I eat eggs Benedict while pregnant?
It is not recommended. Eggs Benedict contains poached and partially cooked eggs in the hollandaise sauce. Pregnant women should not eat raw or undercooked eggs.
- What are the risks of eating raw eggs during pregnancy?
Salmonella infection is the biggest risk. You may get food poisoning which could be dangerous to you and your baby.
- Should I eat eggs during my pregnancy?
Yes, as long as they are fully cooked eggs. Eggs are very healthy food and have lots of benefits for you and your baby.
- I ate eggs Benedict before I learned I was pregnant. Is that ok?
If you didn’t get sick after, that’s good. Going forward, it’s safest to avoid and wait to eat eggs Benedict until after your baby is born.
- What are safe alternatives to eggs Benedict during pregnancy?
As long as the egg yolk and whites are completely cooked they are safe, such as hard-boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, deviled eggs, and baked egg dishes.