Can Pregnant Women Drink Apple Cider?

Apple Cider Can Be a Healthy Addition to a Pregnant Woman's Diet

Apple cider is nothing more than apple juice before it has been filtered to remove the crushed apple pulp from which is it made. Leaving the pulp in the juice gives it a heartier flavor and its distinctive, cloudy look. It's absolutely possible for pregnant women to enjoy the earthy taste and thick, velvety texture of apple cider, with one important caveat: the apple cider must be pasteurized to ensure that it carries no harmful bacteria.

Pasteurization vs. Organic

Apple juice in glass on  table

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Pasteurized juices have been heated to a high temperature for a very short amount of time. This kills most harmful bacteria without changing the texture or taste. The bacteria most often found in unpasteurized apple cider is Escherichia coli or E. coli. This can find its way into apple cider if it's made from ground apples which have been exposed to the manure of pasture animals or made from apples handled by people exposed to manure. It can also happen after apples are washed in contaminated well water. E. coli is of particular concern to people with compromised immune systems, such as pregnant women. Apple ciders labeled as organic are generally not pasteurized.

Benefits vs. Concerns

The benefits of drinking apple cider are many. It's naturally high in vitamin C and antioxidants, which help fight the damage caused by free radicals. Apples and fresh apple products, such as applesauce, apple juice and apple cider, are soothing and rarely allergenic. Drinking cider helps keep you hydrated, while the fiber in the cloudy pulp can help keep you regular. The lush sweetness of apple cider can also help tame sugar cravings, making it good not only for you but for the children you already have. Most important is making sure that what you drink is pasteurized.

Apple Cider vs. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple juice in glass on  table

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Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, is apple cider that has been fermented twice; once into alcohol and then into acetic acid. Acetic acid helps break down foods, so folklore tells us that a spoonful of apple cider vinegar every day will help your digestion. All of the nutritional value in apple cider vinegar resides in the mother, which is the traditional name for the sediment that forms in the bottom of any container of unpasteurized ACV. Pasteurization removes the mother and thereby any rumored benefits. The acetic acid in pasteurized apple cider vinegar can interact with certain medications, and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar may not be safe to drink, so it's best to simply avoid ACV while pregnant.

When to Call Your Doctor

If you think you may have consumed unpasteurized apple cider either before you knew you were pregnant or unknowingly afterward, contact your doctor. Food poisoning can feel like the onset of the flu, with muscle aches, nausea, dizziness and vomiting. The sooner you see your doctor, the sooner you can begin a course of treatment to protect yourself and your baby.

Tips

If you've purchased or have been given apple cider and don't know whether it is pasteurized, you can do so at home. Heat the apple cider to 161 F for at least 15 seconds. Any longer and the heat will change its flavor. Store your cider at 40 F or lower to keep it fresh.

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