Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables out there, with a wide range of nutritional benefits, but with toxoplasmosis a concern for pregnant women, are carrots and their skins safe?
The good news is that carrots are generally safe during pregnancy, so long as they’re fresh and cleaned properly to remove traces of bacteria and soil.
I’ll guide you through the different kinds of carrots, their benefits and how to safely enjoy them while you’re expecting.
Carrots During Pregnancy: Are They a Good, Safe Choice?
Carrots are generally safe and healthy during pregnancy.
Good food safety is still important. Before consumption, make sure to peel and wash carrots thoroughly. Or if you prefer not to peel them – make sure there is no dirt remaining on the skin. As carrots grow in the soil, there is a small risk of toxoplasmosis, a bacteria found in soil. Instances of toxoplasmosis are rare but should still be approached with caution.
The Toxoplasma gondii bacteria cause complications such as miscarriage and make mother and baby ill, so it’s best to be on the safe side (source: CDC).
Pre-prepared (pre-cut) carrots should be avoided during pregnancy. Pre-prepared carrots often come diced up with dips. While these snacks are convenient, they’re also easily contaminated as bacteria can easily spread from a knife or one piece of fruit to the whole package (source: PLoS One).
With multiple salmonella cases being linked to pre-cut fruit, it’s best to prepare carrots with dip at home (source: FDA).
There are different kinds of carrots with varying nutritional breakdowns. Generally, carrots are quite high in vitamin A and have moderate amounts of other vitamins.
Heirloom carrots, which are often called Rainbow carrots, have a similar amount of vitamin A compared to regular carrots but also have a decent amount of fiber (source: Nutritionix). Baby carrots have less vitamin A and other vitamins such as vitamin C.
Can I Eat Carrots Raw When Pregnant?
Eating raw carrots are generally safe during pregnancy. As cooking kills bacteria, if you are going to eat raw carrots, they need to be very clean.
Peel away any dirt that may have gotten trapped in a crevice. Ensure the carrots have been rinsed in running water for at least 30 seconds and peel away any bruised or damaged bits.
For a helpful guide on prepping produce during pregnancy, go here.
The Benefits of Eating Carrots During Pregnancy
Carrots are a great source of vitamins and minerals, with benefits for you and your growing baby.
Carrots are a significant source of vitamin A (source: Nutrition Data). Consuming too little and too much vitamin A can result in congenital malformations (source: nutrients). Baby carrots contain a much more moderate amount of vitamin A (source: Nutrition Data).
Adequate amounts of this vitamin are needed to help with the development of bones, teeth and hair, as well as maintaining and developing the epithelial tissue, how reproductive organs function, strengthening the immune system and protecting the skin (source: Nutrients).
Carrots are also a good source of vitamin K. Consuming too little vitamin K has been associated with hemorrhages, especially in newborns. Vitamin K is also important when it comes to the development of protein in the liver and your baby’s bones (source: NHS).
Carrots contain some vitamin C and potassium. Vitamin C is important for lowing the risk of pre-eclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction. It has also been observed to help lower the risk of maternal anemia (source: Cochrane).
Meanwhile, potassium is good during pregnancy to help protect against bone loss. It has also been linked with a lower risk of cardiovascular issues (source: Oxford Medicine). Potassium is also helpful for maintaining normal nerve and muscle function (source: Medline).
As carrots are largely made up of water, they’re also an easy way to get extra hydration during pregnancy.
Healthy Recipe Ideas Using Carrots During Pregnancy:
Here are some ideas to help you get more carrots into your pregnancy diet:
- Homemade carrot sticks (cut them up yourself), with homemade hummus dips
- A warming carrot soup with cinnamon and cumin – great for winter!
- Grated carrot salad with olive oil, sultanas and cumin – super healthy compared to coleslaw
- Add grated carrot to burgers, stews, soups and stuffed veggies
- It’s not super healthy to eat cake, but adding carrots to cake is also a tasty idea – and no, you can’t taste the carrot much! Cream cheese frosting is also safe during pregnancy if you’re making a traditional carrot cake.
Can Eating Too Many Carrots Give Me Too Much Vitamin A?
Technically the vitamin A in carrots is not exactly vitamin A. There are two types of vitamin A; preformed vitamin A, found in animal products, and provitamin A carotenoids, found in plant-based sources. A carotenoid is beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin which means that excess is stored in the liver, but too much can become toxic, which is known as hypervitaminosis A. While hypervitaminosis A can happen when it comes to preformed vitamin A, it has not been observed with beta-carotene (source: National Institutes of Health).
It’s good to keep in mind that the tolerable upper limit for Vitamin A is 3000 mcg RAE per day. One microgram of RAE is the equivalent of 12 micrograms of Beta-carotene.
In summary, you shouldn’t worry about getting too much vitamin A from carrots, and you can enjoy them safely.
Can I Drink Carrot Juice During Pregnancy? Is It Safe?
As long as juice has been pasteurized and made practicing good hygiene, then it should be safe. Unpasteurized juice can contain bacteria that is harmful to both you and your baby.
To make things easier, the FDA requires that unpasteurized juices be clearly labeled as such and that they carry a warning for consumers to be aware of potential bacteria. Unpasteurized juices are often marked as “unfiltered” (Source: CANR).
While carrot juice is generally safe, juices are not always the healthiest option. Juicing strips most of the fiber and can often contain added sugars. It is better to rely on whole carrots, but having a glass of carrot juice a few times a week should not be harmful.
Alternatively, you can make fresh carrot juice yourself in a juicer, so long as the carrots are thoroughly washed, and it’s consumed straight away.
Pure carrot juice does not seem to be high in sugar, but the calories can easily pile on in commercial juices and when combining other fruits and vegetables. Carrot and beet is a common flavor – which is safe- and is a convenient way to add in extra vitamins and minerals to your diet.
Here are a few brands of carrot juice that are safe, and popular:
- Heaven & Earth, 100% Pure Carrot Juice (non gmo)
- Lakewood Organic Pure Carrot Juice (non gmo, organic)
- Biotta Organic Carrot Juice (organic, non gmo)
- Organic Cold Pressed Carrot Juice (pasteurized, organic)
Always read the label and check that the carrot juice is pasteurized, and you can enjoy it safely. I hope this article cleared up any questions you had about eating carrots during pregnancy!