Is Broccoli a Healthy Choice During Pregnancy?

Photo of author

Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

Published on

BabyFacts logo

Even if it’s not everyone’s favorite, it’s no secret that broccoli is a healthy vegetable. But is it still a good choice for pregnant women?

Broccoli is a healthy choice during pregnancy. Packed with vitamins and minerals, this green vegetable can benefit both mother and baby. Broccoli is an excellent source of folic acid, an essential nutrient for pregnant women. Folic acid helps to prevent congenital disabilities.

It could be beneficial to eat broccoli when pregnant; however, is broccoli always safe? From whether or not broccoli will give you gas, to what exactly the health benefits are – we’ll cover it all here!

What Are the Benefits of Broccoli for Pregnant Women?

As we mentioned earlier, broccoli is a nutrient-rich vegetable that can provide many health benefits for both mother and baby. Here are some of the specific benefits of broccoli for pregnant women:

  • A good source of fiber: Fiber helps prevent constipation during pregnancy.  It also helps to control blood sugar levels. (source: National Library of Medicine). If you are pregnant, you’ll need about 28 grams of fiber per day. (source: American Pregnancy Association). A cup of cooked broccoli contains 5 grams of fiber (source: Mayo Clinic)
  • Contains antioxidants: Broccoli includes vitamin C and E, essential antioxidants. Antioxidants help to protect cells from damage. 
  • Calcium for strong bones: Broccoli is a good source of calcium, which is essential for the development of healthy bones and teeth, especially during pregnancy (source: National Library of Medicine)
  • Phosphorus:  Phosphorus is necessary for pregnant women as it helps develop the baby’s brain and nervous system.
  • Zinc:  During pregnancy, zinc is essential for developing the baby’s immune system  (source: USDA)
broccoli salad with bacon in a plate

So, as you can see, there are many good reasons to eat broccoli during pregnancy. However, some people say that broccoli can cause gas and bloating during pregnancy. Is this true? Let’s find out.

Will Broccoli Give Me Gas If I’m Pregnant?

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and kale can indeed give you gas. It’s because they are high in dietary fiber. When you eat healthy foods high in fiber, your body has to work harder to break them down, sometimes leading to gas and bloating. (source: WebMD)

Gas and bloating are very common in pregnant women. About 50-75% of pregnant women experience these symptoms. Even if broccoli contributes to gas and bloating during pregnancy, it may not be the main reason you’re experiencing it.

Increased progesterone levels during pregnancy can relax the muscles in the digestive tract and slow down digestion (Source: American Pregnancy Association)

However, if you’re still concerned about broccoli causing gas, you can try steaming or boiling it instead of eating it raw. Cooking broccoli breaks down the fiber, making it easier for your body to digest. (source: International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science)

In addition, some women may experience gas and bloating even if they are not pregnant or not eating broccoli, due to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS  is a common condition that affects the digestive system. The cause is thought to be genetics, diet, and stress (Source: National Library of Medicine)

washing the broccoli thoroughly under the running water

Is Broccoli Always Safe During Pregnancy?

Broccoli is generally safe to eat during pregnancy. However, as with all foods, it is crucial to wash your raw broccoli thoroughly to remove any dirt or bacteria. Although it’s rare, fresh broccoli may contain harmful surface bacteria like listeria, which can cause food poisoning (source: Journal of Food Protection). 

Listeria infection is rare but can be very dangerous for pregnant women and babies. It may lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or preterm labor (source: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists).

If you want to toss broccoli into your salad and eat it raw, just make sure you give it a good wash. you can read more here on our guide to washing vegetables during pregnancy.

What Does it Mean if I’m Craving Broccoli When Pregnant?

Pregnancy cravings can be for healthy veggies, too! Food cravings happen because of hormonal changes during pregnancy, and can sometimes be your body’s way of getting the nutrients it needs (source: National Library of Medicine).

Whatever the reason, there’s no need to worry if you’re craving broccoli – you can safely satisfy your craving. Just make sure you wash it thoroughly and cook it properly. Intake of broccoli during pregnancy is a healthy choice as it provides many nutrients that are important for both mother and baby.

creamy broccoli soup in a bowl

Are Broccoli Soups Safe During Pregnancy?

Yes, broccoli soups are safe to eat during pregnancy as long as they are made with pasteurized milk and cheese. Stilton and cheddar cheese are both common cheeses that are often paired with broccoli, and both are pasteurized, so they are safe to eat during pregnancy.

However, it is essential to check the food labels of other cheeses to make sure they are pasteurized. You can always ask your doctor or midwife if you’re not sure.

Pasteurized cheese is cheese that has been treated with heat to kill harmful bacteria. This makes it safe to eat during pregnancy. However, unpasteurized cheese can contain harmful bacteria like listeria, which can cause food poisoning. (source: CDC). For more on this, check out our cheese guide.

Cheese that has been heated up is also safe (even if not pasteurized), so if in doubt, eat your broccoli and cheese soup up until steaming hot, and then enjoy.

Overall, broccoli is a healthy choice during pregnancy. However, it is essential to wash it thoroughly and cook it properly. We hope this article helps in adding more of this nutritious and versatile veggie to your healthy pregnancy diet.