Can You Eat Chinese Food While Pregnant?

Chinese food is one of the most popular ethnic cuisines in North America. It has a long history and many cultures have their own distinct style. Eating Chinese food while pregnant?

You might be wondering if it’s safe to eat Chinese food when you’re pregnant- especially since MSG is often used as an ingredient in some dishes. A Date With Baby team is going to answer this question below!

chinese food during pregnancy

Can You Eat Chinese Food While Pregnant?

There are many different opinions on the subject of whether eating some Chinese food during pregnancy is ok, but it seems that most experts will agree that consuming moderate amounts of soy sauce and fermented black beans (douchi) during pregnancy is ok. However, some studies have shown an association between high levels of MSG consumption and preterm birth– so you might want to avoid those dishes!

Chinese food can be a great addition to a healthy pregnancy diet- especially if you are trying to stay away from some of the more icky ingredients such as raw fish! It’s really important, though, that pregnant women take care not only about what they eat but also when they eat. Chinese foods like dumplings and rice noodles have high levels of sodium that can make you feel bloated so it is best to limit your consumption.

The other important thing about Chinese food while pregnant- especially if you are in the first trimester- is making sure that these foods don’t contain any raw or undercooked ingredients such as eggs, meat, seafood, and/or shellfish. It’s also important to steer clear of dishes that have been cold-held at temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius for more than two hours.

The best way to make sure you are eating a healthy, well-balanced diet while pregnant is by consulting with your doctor or midwife before beginning any new food regimen and remaining mindful of the ingredients listed on labels! 

Is MSG Safe During Pregnancy?

MSG is a flavor enhancer that can be found naturally in seaweed or tomatoes. It’s also used as an additive to many Chinese foods like dumplings and rice noodles, which pregnant women should limit their consumption of according to some sources. MSG has been studied extensively for effects on fetal development but there are conflicting findings when it comes to the safety of pregnant women.

Some studies show that it may cause the uterus to contract, which can lead to preterm birth. Other sources point out that there is no definitive evidence linking MSG and fetal development anomalies or chemical sensitivity in children born from mothers who consumed high quantities of MSG during pregnancy- so moderation seems like a good way to go!

Certain Reasons To Avoid MSG During Pregnancy

Besides the fact that most pregnant women are trying to avoid unnecessary foods with high levels of sodium, there is another reason for avoiding MSG during pregnancy. Studies have shown that when a woman eats MSG while she’s pregnant, her child may develop certain harmful health conditions.

There has been some controversy about these studies as the FDA and other experts have not been able to replicate these results. So for now, it’s important for pregnant women to focus on eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of protein-rich foods like eggs, dairy products, seafood such as salmon, beef, or chicken breast without skin; lots of fresh vegetables including leafy greens like spinach and kale; and fresh fruit such as blueberries, oranges or pineapple.

The most important thing is to talk with your doctor about any foods you want to avoid during pregnancy so they can help ensure that you’re eating a healthy diet while pregnant.

List Of Foods That Contain MSG

MSG exists both as a natural compound in foods and as an additive. Here’s where you’ll find it.

MSG occurs in some natural foods:

  • tomatoes
  • walnuts
  • mushrooms
  • aged cheeses, like parmesan and cheddar
  • sardines and anchovies
  • cured ham
  • broths

MSG can also be added to:

  • Chinese and other Asian dishes
  • canned soups
  • salty, savory snacks like chips or snack mixes
  • frozen meals
  • fast foods

Can I Eat Chinese Food While Pregnant As Long As It Doesn't Have MSG?

You should be able to eat Chinese food as long as it is not seasoned with MSG. As mentioned above, the jury is still out on MSG, and there is a chance that it can be harmful to pregnant women and their unborn babies, so you’ll want to avoid any foods that contain this additive during your pregnancy, just to be on the safe side. If a dish contains MSG, the box or label will typically say “monosodium glutamate”.

What Chinese Food Can Pregnant Woman Eat?

Healthy Chinese food for pregnant woman include: 

  • steamed or boiled fish, shrimp, crabs, and lobster (not fried) 
  • vegetables such as broccoli, peppers, bok choy, and green beans 
  • cabbage soup with seafood added in the last few minutes of cooking time
  • chicken with vegetables and steamed rice 
  • steamed chicken or fish dumplings without any fillings

Soy Sauce During Pregnancy

Soy sauce is one of the most popular condiments in classic Asian cuisine. It can be used as a dipping sauce for dumplings, noodles, and rice dishes to enhance flavor – or consumed on its own! As expected from such an important ingredient, there are plenty of benefits associated with soy sauces; however, many pregnant women may be wondering if soy sauce is safe to consume during their pregnancy.

So, what does the research say? Soy sauce contains naturally occurring trace amounts of sodium and small amounts of salt – so no need to worry about small quantities on your grilled chicken or vegetables! In fact, the World Health Organization recommends an intake limit for pregnant women at around 2000mg of sodium a day. 

This is all great news for pregnant women since there are plenty of benefits associated with consuming soy sauce during pregnancy, such as increased immunity for mom and baby; improved digestion due to the use of probiotics found in fermented foods like soya; and prevention of iron deficiency anemia.

The next time you’re cooking up a delicious Asian dish, be sure to grab the soy sauce! You can use it as a dipping sauce for dumplings, delicious stir fry, or noodles, and much more! There are plenty of benefits associated with consuming soy sauces during pregnancy that make this condiment a must-have for any Asian cuisine enthusiast.


Of course, a natural question comes to mind: If the Chinese food is not completely good for you during pregnancy, then what do the women in China eat while pregnant? This is a multilayered question, but the easiest and most basic answer is that the food we have come to love and crave is not always entirely Chinese in its origins, and many are cooked in a fashion resembling Chinese methods but aren’t necessarily authentic cuisine.

So surely, traditional and authentic Chinese dishes do not use many of the harmful ingredients that we use today in North America, including MSG, and therefore if you are lucky enough to have someone who can whip up a homemade authentic dish, be sure to enjoy it! Just make sure to avoid any kind of raw seafood, as that’s a whole different issue. 

Pregnant women should be cautious when eating Chinese food, especially if they’re trying to avoid potential allergens. Some soy sauce brands may contain MSG and could cause some issues for pregnant moms-to-be. In general, it’s best to consult your OB/GYN before making any changes to what you eat while expecting a baby. 

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