Can You Eat Mustard During Pregnancy? Is It Safe?

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Mustard, whether in seed form as a spice, in a sauce or mixed with honey, is often queried as to its suitability in pregnancy. There are many different types of mustard as a condiment, so I’ve attempted to address them all in this article.

Can you eat mustard during pregnancy? Mustard is safe for pregnant women if it’s eaten ‘normally’ in food amounts, as a seasoning, condiment or ingredient. It may not be safe in medicinal levels or as a supplement.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, many herbs and spices are safe to eat in pregnancy if they’re eaten as food, but may not be safe when they’re taken in concentrated medicinal or supplement levels.

This means that if you’re using herbs and spices ‘normally’, that is, using them to season food, as an ingredient or cooking with them, then this is usually a safe amount. However, taking capsules of concentrated amounts or extracts of herbs or spices may not be safe in pregnancy as the evidence on their effects in pregnancy is unclear.

For the avoidance of doubt, this article only deals with mustard as a foodstuff – the way it’s commonly eaten, in sauces, condiments or as a seasoning or ingredient in cooking.

Types of Mustard That Are Safe To Eat When You’re Pregnant

The FDA considers all types of mustard (White, yellow, brown and black) to be generally safe to consume (source: FDA). Mustard comes in numerous forms, so if you were wondering about a particular type of mustard, I’ve listed some common ones here:

Yellow Mustard (also called American Mustard)

One of the mildest mustards, this is what most people think of when a condiment it simply called ‘mustard’. It usually comes in a squeezy yellow dispenser and is safe to eat when pregnant. All common brands such as French’s, Heinz, Colman’s, Grey Poupon, Inglehoffer, Annie’s and others are all safe to eat when you’re pregnant.

Mustard Powder (or ground mustard)

Mustard Powder is an instant form of yellow mustard, popularised by Colman’s in the UK. It’s sometimes referred to as ‘English mustard’. Although it’s stronger than traditional yellow mustard, it can be treated the same way and is fine for pregnant women to eat.

Dijon mustard

This is traditionally made with mustard seeds and white wine, or white wine vinegar. Even if you ate the true traditional version containing wine, the alcohol content would be so small it would not be significant. Dijon mustard can be eaten safely in pregnancy.

Mustard Sauce

Mustard Sauce commonly uses many of the above types of mustard. Honey mustard sauce is particularly prevalent as a dip, or heated and poured over chicken and other similar dishes. The mustard itself is safe when you’re pregnant, but check for other ingredients in the sauce to make sure they’re pasteurized, such as cream, milk or eggs.

fried fish with mustard sauce on a white plate

Honey Mustard

Honey mustard is very popular, as it’s sweet and tangy – honey is mixed in at a roughly 50/50 ratio with the mustard. Some pregnant women worry about the honey content, but honey is safe to eat in pregnancy (source: BabyCenter).

Honey mustard can be eaten by pregnant women, even if the honey is unpasteurized. This means that popular brands, such as McDonald’s honey mustard, are also safe to eat in pregnancy.

Mustard Seeds

I cook a lot of Indian food, so I use mustard seeds often. All types – white, yellow, black and brown – are safe to use as an ingredient or as a seasoning if you’re pregnant. They’re a great way to pep up veggies, since spicy food is safe in pregnancy and many women are conscious of upping their vegetable intake, too.

Wholegrain Mustard

Wholegrain mustard has many intact mustard seeds in it, hence the name. Its usually a semi-ground, thick mustard used to stir into sauces, dips and on its own as an accompaniment. Wholegrain mustard is fine for pregnant women to eat.

wholegrain mustard in a small glass bowl with a black spoon

Mustard Leaves / Mustard Greens When Pregnant

Mustard greens are the young leaves of the Black Mustard plant. They’re traditionally eaten cooked with salted meat, or the young shoots can be eaten raw in salads.

Mustard greens are safe to eat in pregnancy. They’re also a healthy option for pregnant women, as they’re high in folate, Vitamins A, K, C and complex carbohydrates (source: VeryWellFit). Before eating mustard greens, ensure they are washed thoroughly to remove any potential bacterial contamination.

Mustard Oil in Pregnancy

Mustard oil is banned for culinary use in the USA by the Food and Drug Administration, and throughout Europe by the EU. Mustard oil should not be consumed by pregnant women or used for cooking, as it contains erucic acid, a substance found to have toxic effects on the heart (source: Wikipedia).

Despite the ban, you sometimes see mustard oil for sale as a food or ingredient in some ethnic grocery stores. Regardless, it should not be eaten if you’re pregnant (or even if you aren’t) due to its toxicity.

Is Mustard Good In Pregnancy?

Mustard is eaten in such small quantities, its nutritional value is negligible when it comes to counting it as a nutritious food in pregnancy. It has trace amounts of magnesium and iron (source: Nutrition Data).

It’s certainly not bad for you in its role as a seasoning. However, you should watch the amount of sodium in some blends, and the sugars in sweeter versions of mustard, such as honey mustard.

Overall, mustard is a good option for pregnant women to add a bit of ‘zip’ to foods that should be eaten in pregnancy, such as fish, lean protein and veggies. Some foods that classically come with mustard may not be safe, such as hot dogs – you can read about those in my article here.