Salt, which is a form of sodium, plays a significant role in our diet’s intake. Sodium is required for everyone at a minimum designated level to maintain the body’s pH levels and fluid balance. But if you are pregnant, have you ever wondered if you can have salty food during pregnancy? If you did, do not worry, you are not the only one.
This most common dilemma and the query must not be underrated, salt intake for pregnant women is as important as for any other normal woman or individual. But, one must know what the required dosage is and what can be overconsumption, along with side effects and other tips. Let’s take a more in-depth look to get all your queries answered.
Why Do Pregnant Women Need Salt?
Salt, also known as sodium chloride, plays an essential part in the overall diet. This is especially the case for pregnant women. When you are carrying a baby, your body’s fluid levels tend to alter, and salt is a significant component that aids in balancing and maintaining the fluids. However, higher salt intake is proven to increase blood pressure as well (1), and it is crucial always to regulate the levels and have the input within the prescribed range.
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How Much Salt is Safe for Pregnant Ladies, and What is the Daily Range?
According to the US Medicine dietary guidelines and the department of health and human services (2,3), one can have up to 2300milligrams of sodium. The same applies even to pregnant women. But if the women who are carrying also have underlying issues such as hypertension, then the intake will reduce. However, the daily intake and range are about a teaspoon of salt per day, which is six grams. Than given range, eating salty food during pregnancy is not recommended.
Is Craving Salty Foods Normal During Pregnancy?
Cravings during pregnancy are quite common. If you are carrying a baby, you often find yourself longing for food; you may not imagine as well. On regular days, you may or may not like salty foods, but you may be craving it. But is liking salty food during pregnancy normal? Is it healthy?
Most women may find themselves craving high-sodium foods during pregnancy, especially during early pregnancy time or the first trimester. Some women often consider this craving as a sign of pregnancy too. It is completely fine if you do too, but make sure always to regulate the levels to consume only within prescribed limits. If you have conditions like hypertension, you should be having less salt (4). Make sure to consult with your doctor regarding your limit.
Side Effects of Excessive Salt During Pregnancy:
Anything excessive is terrible. Be it high fat or high salt. You must make sure that you do not cross your prescribed limits of the daily range of sodium during the pregnancy journey. High salt can lead to several concerns such as water retention or swelling of the legs for pregnant women. Further, the case of high blood pressure may come up too. In addition, most importantly, the high salt intake may also adversely affect the fetal and offspring’s postnatal health (5).
Foods Containing High Salt (Sodium) To Avoid During Pregnancy:
Not all foods are healthy. Not all kinds of salts are okay to have. Even if you are pregnant and craving salty foods, here is a list of foods you must avoid in any case. Given the high dosage of unhealthy salts and sodium in them, they are not safe to be taken. The salty foods for pregnant women which are a must avoid include,
1. Breakfast Cereals:
We call crave quick and yummy foods, especially during pregnancy. But as much as the breakfast cereals may seem healthy, they are not! Cornflakes or muesli may increase your overall sodium intake to higher levels, without your notice!
Bread and buns are stapled for many, including pregnant women. But remember these things: They are packaged foods, prepared to last long and also have higher salt levels than usual. Keep a check!
3. Sweetened Beverages:
Never have aerated drinks or sweetened beverages. They are unhealthy in general and may cause further concerns during pregnancy, given that they have at least 200 gm of sodium within one drink.
We all love sauces, be it ketchup, barbeque sauces or chilli sauces. But most of these packaged sauce readymade items in the market have higher sodium amounts.
5. Fast Foods:
If you aren’t cooking at home, and prefer outside food, we understand your craving. But do you know how much salt and which salts they would use to prepare the kind of ‘tasty’ foods we crave for? We are not in charge of the dosages they may put in and also do not know what nature of salts and spices they add. Hence, it is only better to avoid such high-salted fast foods from outside at this stage.
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Healthy Salt (Sodium) Sources in Foods During Pregnancy:
Well, now that we have mentioned foods you must avoid and skip, here are a few healthy foods you can grab too. While salty foods while pregnant aren’t recommended as such, these include only healthy and natural range.
- Yoghurt Peanuts, nuts and unsalted preserves
- Vegetables and fruits
As much as these foods have healthy sodium levels too, you are safe to consume them without any hesitation. Besides these, pregnant women, despite craving salty, unhealthy foods, are not good to be had.
Tips for Reducing Salt Intake During Pregnancy:
While we understand that food cravings are undoubtedly challenging to give them a miss during this point in time, here are a few secret tips we have found to reduce the usual salt cravings.
- You can use beautiful seasonings while you prepare food, which is salt-free and also healthy and tasty.
- Opt for fresh vegetables and fruits. They have high sodium levels too, which are within healthy limits. The colourful bowl is always recommended, make sure your intake is filled with natural colours, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Make sure any foods and drinks you consume, read the labels behind them. See the sodium levels on them and the amount you would consume. You will understand by yourself how to avoid them.
- Home-cooked food is the best. They are healthy and also have limited salt, best for your consumption range.
It is normal to have cravings for salty food during pregnancy. But the key is to regulate and have within specified limits. There is nothing like having healthy foods during this phase, given the importance of both mother and fetal health. If you found this guide helpful, let us know your thoughts too!
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Q1. What Causes Salt Cravings During Pregnancy for Women?
Ans: Most often, pregnant women may crave salty foods due to growing fluids in the body and in order to support fetal growth. Given that sodium is proven to retain sodium, pregnant women often crave salty food.
Q2. What Happens If Too Much Salt is Taken at Once?
Ans: It is only advised to have the required range of salt intake per day, as per intervals, and with a range of specified and healthy foods. If there is too much salt intake at once, it may have higher blood pressure and also cause more severe concerns such as strokes, and kidney and heart concerns.
Q3. Can I Eat Black Salt During Pregnancy?
Ans: Black salt can be consumed during this time. It helps with stomach relief and constipation. But make sure to restrict the intake as mentioned above, and also avoid it if you have hypertension and other medical concerns.
Disclaimer: Consult your physician or gynaecologist for personalized suggestions on your daily intakes, foods to eat and foods to avoid. The specified limits and foods may alter from person to person, depending on health. We suggest you take a doctor’s opinion for better advice.