Can I Eat Goat Cheese While Pregnant? (What To Avoid)

Pregnancy is a time of excitement, but can also be a time of worry.  You want to do what is best for your unborn baby by eating the right things and avoiding potentially harmful foods.  You may wonder if it is safe to eat certain foods, such as cheese, during pregnacy.  One such question you may have is, “Can I eat goat cheese while pregnant?” This article aims to address your concerns and help you navigate your pregnancy diet with confidence. Let us take a look at the world of goat cheese and its implications for your pregnancy journey.

If goat cheese is one of your favorite cheese products, you will be glad to know that it is safe for pregnant women to consume as long as you follow certain food safety guidelines. Goat cheese, like other soft, unpasteurized cheeses such as brie and feta, does come with a higher risk of containing listeria bacteria.  This can cause serious illness in pregnant individuals. However, if the goat cheese has been pasteurized then it is typically safe to eat.  Read on to find out more tips for enjoying goat cheese while pregnant. 

This article does not give medical advice.  Always check with your healthcare provider about the safety of eating any type of food during pregnancy.

Different foods sit on a wooden board, including cheese, crackers, and nuts.

Is Goat Cheese Safe During Pregnancy?

You have probably heard that certain types of cheese are not safe to eat during pregnancy due to the risk of harmful bacteria like listeria.  Pregnant women are at a higher risk of listeria than the general population.  This increased risk is due to the weakened immune system in pregnant women. Listeriosis is a food-borne illness caused by bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes. This is most often found in processed foods and soft cheeses like brie, feta, camembert, and queso fresco.  A listeria infection can cause serious health problems for your unborn baby, such as premature birth, low birth weight, or even stillbirth.  

In the United States, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend avoiding soft cheeses like brie, feta, camembert, queso fresco, and blue-veined cheeses unless you are sure they have been made with pasteurized milk. The same applies to goat cheese.  Be sure it has been pasteurized before eating it during pregnancy to reduce the risk of listeriosis or other foodborne illnesses.

Fortunately, there is good news for those who are pregnant and crave the tangy goodness of goat cheese. Studies have found that pasteurized versions of goat cheese are safe to eat during pregnancy.  These, along with the hard version of goat cheese, do not contain the same levels of bacteria as soft cheeses.  The pasteurization process involves heating the cheese to a high enough temperature to kill off any potential bacteria that could be harmful to a pregnant woman. This means that while it is important to be aware of the risks posed by listeria-contaminated foods, you can still enjoy a delicious goat cheese dish from time to time.  

Be sure you are avoiding unpasteurized milk and unpasteurized cheeses, as these are not safe for pregnant women.  Soft goat cheese should be avoided during pregnancy. t can contain listeria and other pathogens that could put you at risk. Hard goat cheese is typically safe as long as it has been made with pasteurized milk. 

If you are lactose intolerant, there are lactose-free versions of goat cheese available.  These are typically made with enzyme-treated milk, and they can still contain the same great flavor as regular goat cheese.  Signs of lactose intolerance can include  abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, and diarrhea. If you experience any of these symptoms after eating goat cheese, please consult your healthcare provider to ensure it is safe for you to consume.

Types of Goat Cheese

There are a wide variety of goat cheese types available ranging from soft, spreadable cheese to hard cheeses that can be sliced and cubed. The cheeses have different textures and flavors based on the way they are prepared and their aging process. 

Here are a few of the different types of goat cheese you might encounter.  Keep in mind that not all of the below mentioned types are safe during pregnancy.  Always stick to pasteurized versions to be safe.

  • Chevre: A soft goat’s cheese that is spreadable with a tangy flavor.  It is often served crumbled atop salads or used in recipes like quiches.
  • Aged Goat Cheese:  A hard cheese with a more intense flavor than younger varieties. This type of goat cheese is often served as an appetizer or added to recipes.
  • Feta Cheese: A popular Greek cheese that can be made from cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, or goat’s milk. Feta has a salty, crumbly texture and is traditionally used in salads.
  • Fresh Goat Cheese:  A soft, spreadable cheese made from whole goat’s milk. This fresh cheese is often used in sauces or on pizzas.
  • Goat Brie:  A soft cheese similar to brie, but made with goat’s milk. This cheese is creamy and mild in flavor.
  • Soft Mold-Ripened Goat Cheese:  A soft version that is creamy and aged on the outside with a distinct flavor.
  • Surface-Ripened Goat Cheese:  A soft cheese that is ripened on the outside and has a mild flavor.
  • Hard Goat’s Cheese:  A hard cheese with a crumbly texture that is aged longer and has a more intense flavor than younger varieties.
  • Pasteurized Goat Cheeses:  These are all varieties of goat cheese that have been through the pasteruization process.
  • White Rind Cheese:  A soft cheese that is aged for a few weeks and has a creamy texture.

Benefits of Eating Goat Cheese During Pregnancy

In addition to being safe to eat, goat cheese offers many pregnancy-specific benefits. One of the most notable is its high protein content. Protein plays a key role in helping your baby grow and develop. Adding goat cheese into your diet is a great way to get the protein your body needs in an easy and delicious form. 

Goat cheese is also a good source of calcium, which is essential for strong bones and teeth. Calcium helps build the skeletal system of your baby, so it is important to make sure you are getting enough during pregnancy. 

Additionally, goat cheese contains B vitamins that boost energy levels and help your body absorb nutrients. B vitamins also help lower homocysteine levels in your blood, which can be protective against the development of preeclampsia.

Cheese contains Vitamin D, which is important for strong bones and healthy skin. Eating goat cheese during pregnancy can help ensure you get enough Vitamin D, so your body can produce enough for both you and your baby. 

Other benefits include a high vitamin A content, which is important for healthy eyesight and immune system development.  Vitamin A can also help protect your baby from infection. 

Finally, goat cheese is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are important for brain and nerve development in the fetus. They may even reduce the risk of some birth defects.

Soft blocks of goat cheese sit on a wire rack.

Tips for Eating Goat Cheese Safely During Pregnancy 

When it comes to eating goat cheese during pregnancy, there are some important things to keep in mind: 

  • Always make sure you are buying pasteurized varieties of cheese and milk products.  As previously mentioned, unpasteurized dairy products should be avoided completely during pregnancy.
  • Avoid soft cheeses and raw milk cheeses, as they are more likely to contain the listeria bacteria or other harmful bacteria.  These have typically not been subjected to the high temperature needed to kill bacteria.  A healthy alternative to these is hard goat cheese, cream cheese, or cottage cheese.
  • Choose full fat versions of cheeses over low fat or non-fat varieties, as these are typically higher in essential nutrients.
  • Always double check the label when purchasing any type of cheese to make sure it is safe for pregnant women. 
  • Avoid any kinds of cheese with a high salt content, such as feta or blue cheese, as they can increase water retention. 
  • Be sure to store any unused cheeses in the refrigerator or freezer to keep them fresh longer.  When food sits out for a prolonged period, harmful pathogens can grow.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling any cheese to help reduce the potential risks of foodborne illness and bacteria contamination.
  • Be aware of other foods that could potentially cause food poisoning, such as deli meats, and raw egg dishes.  If you are going to eat deli meat or hot dogs, be sure to heat them to an internal temperature of 165 degrees in order to kill bacteria like listeria.

It can also be helpful to talk to your doctor or midwife about what types of cheeses are safe for you during pregnancy.  Your healthcare provider may have additional advice on how to best manage your diet during your pregnancy.

A stack of different cheeses sits on a white surface.

Ways to Eat Goat Cheese During Pregnancy

Now that you know goat cheese is safe to eat while pregnant, let’s discuss how to incorporate it into your diet. Goat cheese is a very versatile cheese that can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes. Pizza, salads, pasta sauces, or toast with honey and jam are just some examples. Here are some ways you can enjoy it during your pregnancy:

  •  Add a crumbled goat cheese topping to salads.
  •  Make goat cheese spreads or dips and serve with chips or veggies.
  •  Use it as an ingredient in baked goods such as quiches.
  •  Stuff roasted vegetables like bell peppers with a mixture of goat cheese and herbs.
  •  Create a pizza topped with sliced tomatoes, spinach, and crumbled goat cheese.

The safety and benefits of consuming goat cheese during pregnancy are quite clear. It can be a safe cheese to add into your diet as long as you are following proper guidelines.  Ensuring the cheese is a pasteurized variety, avoiding soft cheeses, and checking the labels for safety guidelines are essential steps to enjoying goats’ cheese. It is a good source of protein and offers calcium, B vitamins, and Vitamin D.  Goat cheese can serve as a beneficial addition to a pregnancy diet when consumed responsibly. Its versatility also allows for the preparation of a variety of different meals.  As always, any dietary changes or concerns during pregnancy should be discussed with a healthcare provider to ensure the healthiest choices for both mother and baby.

You may also like reading:

Can You Eat Sour Cream While Pregnant? (Benefits and Safety)

Foods To Prevent Miscarriage: What To Avoid During Pregnancy

Can You Eat Sea Bass and Other Fish When Pregnant?

Protein Powder for Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

Can Watermelon Cause Miscarriage?

Are Cherries Good For Pregnancy?

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