Lemonade During Pregnancy: Cravings, Safety, and More

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Lemonade can be a sweet (or sour) and refreshing beverage that is especially popular during hot weather. But, is it safe to drink during pregnancy?

Both commercially and homemade lemonade, when pasteurized, is safe to consume during pregnancy. However, excess sugar can contribute to unhealthy weight gain and increase the risk of chronic diseases.

Lemonade can be pasteurized or unpasteurized, regular or diet, store-bought or homemade, and more! Therefore, there are many varieties to discuss! Let’s explore the safety of drinking lemonade during pregnancy. 

Is Lemonade Safe for Pregnant Women to Drink?

Commercially made or store-bought lemonade is safe, as long as it is pasteurized. Pasteurization is the process of heating to very high temperatures to kill any potential bacteria or pathogens that may be present. Pregnant women are advised to avoid unpasteurized products from dairy to fruit juices and more. 

However, store-bought lemonade is also typically high in added sugar. It is recommended that women consume no more than 25 grams of sugar daily, which is approximately six teaspoons (source: AHA). Excess intake of sugar can contribute to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease development. 

Diet lemonade options are great alternatives to lower sugar consumption and still enjoy the delicious beverage, as long as the sugar substitute is deemed safe for pregnancy. For example, erythritol, sucralose, and aspartame, are alternatives in diet lemonade that pregnant women can consume.

lemonade in a pitcher with fresh lemons

Though unlikely to cause any harm, pregnant women should avoid freshly made lemonade that is not confirmed as pasteurized. Fresh or homemade lemonades sold at farmer’s markets, juice bars, health food stores, or even some grocery stores may be unpasteurized. 

It is recommended to avoid unpasteurized juices during pregnancy due to the increased risk of potentially consuming unsafe bacteria (source: FDA).

In a grocery store or health food store setting, the FDA requires the use of a warning label stating the product is unpasteurized and may therefore contain harmful bacteria. Additionally, when preparing fresh lemonade at home, there are a few necessary precautions to take to make sure no contamination occurs (source: FDA):

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds to ensure your hands are clean.
  • Wash the raw lemons thoroughly under running water. There is no need to use soap, detergent, or product wash.
  • After washing with water, dry the fruit well with a clean towel or paper towel.
  • Cut away any bruises or damage to the fruit. If the lemon shows signs of rotting, it is best to discard and use fresh lemons. 

Can Lemonade Help with Pregnancy Nausea or Heartburn? 

Many women experience symptoms of nausea during their pregnancy. Lemonade is a safe home remedy for nausea during pregnancy (source: American Pregnancy Association). This effect may be even greater in sparkling lemonade products!

Additionally, many pregnant women also search for home remedies for heartburn, or acid reflux. Unfortunately, if you are experiencing heartburn or acid reflux, lemonade, or any citrus fruit products, may worsen the problem (source: March of Dimes).

Therefore, if you are experiencing significant heartburn during your pregnancy, avoid drinking lemonade as it may worsen the undesirable symptoms.

What Does it Mean if I’m Craving Lemonade During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy cravings sometimes result from a nutritional deficiency. But, craving lemonade during your pregnancy is entirely normal and is nothing to worry about! Lemons are rich in vitamin C, a micronutrient that supports a healthy immune system, wound healing, and more.

Craving lemonade may indicate a deficiency in vitamin C. However, many cravings simply result from natural, pregnancy-related hormonal imbalances.

Lemonade cravings during pregnancy can be safely indulged. However, it is important to limit the consumption of added sugar. Remember to drink lemonade in moderation to avoid unwanted weight gain and potentially negative health effects related to excessive amounts of added sugar. 

washing lemons thoroughly in a running water

A Pregnancy-Safe Lemonade Recipe

To make lemonade safely at home, follow the fruit washing guidelines mentioned previously. These guidelines include washing the fruit under running water and scrubbing with a produce brush, if necessary.

First, make a simple sugar syrup by dissolving sugar in boiling water. This will be used as the sweetener for the lemonade. At this stage, you can also replace white table sugar with a sugar substitute, such as sucralose.  

Next, mix water and fresh lemon juice on the stove. Bringing the mixture to a boil will kill any harmful bacteria present (source: Michigan State University). 

Let the mixture cool, then add the simple sugar syrup to taste.

Serve over ice with a washed slice of fresh lemon, and enjoy!

Additionally, only make as much as you can drink at one time because harmful bacteria can grow quickly in freshly squeezed juice products over time (source: Mayo Clinic). 

I hope you found this article helpful in discussing the safety precautions for lemonade and how to enjoy it during your healthy pregnancy.