The nutrients in apples and apple juice can help support your health as well as that of your unborn baby. You can enjoy apples in many different ways and we’ll look at some of those here.
Apples are safe to eat during pregnancy, and they have a range of benefits as they contain many vitamins and minerals. Apple juice can also be healthy as long as it doesn’t contain too much sugar.
There are some old wives’ tales about apples that have done the rounds both on and offline, and we’ll clear those up too!
The Benefits of Eating Apples During Pregnancy
Apples are an excellent food to eat during pregnancy because they contain many vitamins and minerals.
One apple contains only 65 calories and has substantial amounts of vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, as well as folate, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Apples – especially unpeeled – are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, containing 3 grams which is 12% of the daily value. Insoluble fiber helps with digestion as well as a healthy metabolism (Source: NutritionData).
The calcium in apples is crucial for the healthy bone development of your baby. In addition, by consuming at least 1900 mg of calcium a day, you can reduce the risk of preeclampsia by as much as 31-65% (Source: JOGI).
Apples also contain pectin, which is a prebiotic that nourishes the good bacteria that live in our gut. Pectin molecules bind to cholesterol in the body, so they can help reduce blood cholesterol (Source: JNFH).
The vitamin C in apples is important for the immune system. Pregnant women’s immune system tends to be more compromised, so vitamin C is an important component of any healthy diet, especially when pregnant.
Studies show that vitamin C is particularly effective in helping to prevent respiratory and systemic infections (Source: MDPI).
Perhaps more importantly, there are studies that have proven that eating apples while pregnant can significantly lower the risk of your child developing wheezing or asthma or other allergic diseases (Source: BMJ).
Apples also contain small amounts of iron, and therefore can help reduce the chances of developing anemia while pregnant. Anemia during pregnancy has been linked to low birth weights and preterm labor, as well as anemia in infants and in young children (Source: SMJ).
Apple Cravings and Pregnancy Gender Myths
It is common to crave apples during pregnancy, but contrary to popular belief, this (unfortunately) doesn’t determine the gender of your child.
It’s fine to guess, of course, but know that you’re doing it for fun and not to get a definitive answer!
At present, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that craving apples means you’re having a boy or a girl. This is quite a common myth, and is also prevalent with other fruits, such as oranges and lemons.
There’s nothing wrong with craving apples, of course – so feel free to indulge during pregnancy – so long as the apple is thoroughly washed first.
Are All Types of Apple Safe for Pregnant Women?
All types of edible apples are safe to eat while pregnant. There are thousands of varieties, which are widely categorized by color:
- Red apples
- Green apples
- Yellow apples
Other fruits have ‘apple’ in the name but are not classic apples. We’ve detailed these below:
Custard Apples During Pregnancy
Custard apples, also called Cherimoya, are green fruits shaped like a cone with scaly skin and sweet, creamy flesh inside and they come from South America.
These fruits are often served cold and are served with a spoon so that you can scoop out the sweet flesh. The taste of Cherimoya is similar to other tropical fruits such as pineapple and banana.
Cherimoya (or custard apples) are safe to eat while pregnant and like regular apples, they contain many beneficial vitamins and minerals (Source: WebMD).
Are Wood apples Pregnancy-Safe?
Wood apples have many other names: Elephant apple, Bael fruit, Monkey fruit or Curd fruit.
The wood apple is a subtropical fruit that is grown in India and has a very hard shell, hence its name.
The core is soft and pulpy and has small, crunchy, edible seeds. Although wood apples have many health benefits and have been eaten in India for thousands of years, there are no studies confirming the safety of wood apples to eat during pregnancy.
Consult with your health professional before eating them to see if they are safe for you, as some people experience digestive problems and other health side effects (Source: ResearchJournal).
Can Pregnant Women Eat Crab Apples?
Crab apples are immature apples, and are safe to eat as long as you don’t eat the core or seeds (which you would avoid with mature apples too).
The seeds of all apples contain cyanide which is a known poison, but you would need to eat unrealistic amounts of apples or apple juice to consume a harmful amount of cyanide (Source: NIH).
Apple Dishes and Pregnancy Safety
Here are some common dishes with apples and whether they are safe or healthy during pregnancy:
Caramel apples: Caramel apples contain large amounts of sugar which is not recommended for health, whether you are pregnant or not. Caramel apples are safe during pregnancy, but consume in moderation to keep your sugar intake to healthy levels, and definitely brush your teeth afterward!
Peanut butter and apple: This is a very healthy snack to have while you’re pregnant, as both foods have high levels of nutrients and go well together. You can safely eat peanut butter and apple when you’re pregnant, and peanuts have many health benefits that are beneficial during pregnancy.
Stewed apples: Stewed apples are safe to eat during pregnancy, though you may want to watch the sugar content. If you make your own at home, be sure to wash your apples thoroughly first.
Apple sauce: Apple sauce is safe in pregnancy and is a deliciously sweet food to enjoy, although check the label when buying to make sure there is not too much added sugar. This is another food that you may want to make at home to ensure that you are only using the best ingredients and a healthy sugar alternative, perhaps, if desired.
Apple Pie: You’ll be delighted to learn that apple pie is perfectly save during pregnancy, but the usual caveats about the high sugar, fat and calorie content still apply, so it’s best eaten as a treat from time to time, in moderation.
Apple butter: Apple butter is a highly concentrated – and therefore super sweet – version of apple sauce. You can enjoy apple butter during pregnancy safely, but know that it typically has a LOT of sugar. Just one tablespoon has 29 calories and 6 grams of sugar (Source: Nutritionix).
Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is a popular health supplement, including while you’re pregnant, though there are important things to know to make sure you avoid accidental bacterial contamination.
A note on Apple Cider: Because apple cider contains alcohol (and some brands can be quite strong), apple cider isn’t safe to drink during pregnancy. A good alternative is hot, spiced apple juice – great instead of cider or mulled wine in the winter.
Is Apple Juice a Healthy Choice for Pregnancy?
Apple juice is a healthy choice during pregnancy provided that it doesn’t have too much sugar. As with other fruit juices, apple juice will not have the fiber that you would get from eating the fresh, whole fruit.
Many commercially-made blends of apple juice are high in sugar, even when apple juice is blended with other juices such as cranberry, blueberry, or pomegranate juices.
In terms of calories, one apple has 65 calories but one cup of apple juice has almost double: 114 calories (Source: Nutritionix).
You will also want to make sure that you drink pasteurized apple juice when pregnant, as unpasteurized juices – often listed as ‘unfiltered’ – can carry harmful bacteria.
The FDA requires that unpasteurized juices be clearly labeled and that they carry a warning for consumers to be aware of potential bacteria (Source: CANR).
Here are a few brands of apple juice that are safe, and popular:
- Lakewood Apple Juice: organic, pressed, pasteurized and without fillers or additives. Not made from concentrate.
- 365 Everyday Value Apple Juice Honeycrisp: organic, pasteurized, no sugar added.
- Martinelli’s: organic, pasteurized, non-concentrate, no additives
- R.W. Knudsen Apple Juice: organic, pasteurized, non-GMO, from concentrate but delicious
- Purity Organic Juice Drink: organic, non-GMO, 100% juice
- Tropicana Apple Juice : made from concentrate, highest in calories per 8 oz (140 calories)
- Mott’s Apple Juice: made from concentrate, sweeter than other brands
Apple Juice and Pregnancy Nausea / Heartburn
Many people believe that eating an apple straight after a meal or before bedtime can help to neutralize stomach acid that contributes to nausea or acid reflux (heartburn). However, there is no scientific research yet that backs this up.
Apples do contain good amounts of calcium, magnesium and potassium: minerals which can contribute to helping with acid reflux in particular. Many antacid products contain a form of magnesium (magnesium carbonate).
If you want to try it, people say that sweet apples work better than the sour varieties.
There is another myth circulating that apple cider vinegar can help with heartburn, but there is no scientific evidence to support this.
Overall, by all means, see if apples work for you to tackle heartburn – though it might be better to ask your health provider, if it’s a frequent concern.
Can Apple Juice Cause a Fake or False Positive Pregnancy Test?
Some women say that apple juice can cause a fake positive result in a pregnancy test if you soak the test in the juice (it doesn’t work by drinking the apple juice).
Pregnancy tests are designed for detecting the pregnancy hormone chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG.
When you apply urine to a pregnancy test, any HCG in the urine will get caught between the enzymes and then get stuck in the second window. This is what causes a second line, showing a positive result.
If the urine doesn’t contain HCG, the urine (and the enzymes) will go straight through the second window and show a negative result (Source: MedicalDaily).
While some women say that they have achieved positive pregnancy test results with apple juice, it could depend on the brand of the juice as well as the pregnancy test, and there is no scientific evidence to back this up.
It’s likely that the apple juice interferes with the chemicals in the test that are designed to test for HCG.
There are plenty of anecdotal stories about this, plus popular social media content demonstrating it.
It’s better to proceed with caution – false positive tests can have unintended emotional consequences, and many people may not take being ‘pranked’ very well, on such a serious and potentially life-changing subject.
The only way of knowing for certain if you’re pregnant is via a regular blood or urine test, ideally conducted by a health professional.
Overall, apples and apple juice are delicious and safe to consume during pregnancy, and whole apples, in particular, have many important health benefits for you and your baby. Enjoy both!