With so many new food rules to get used to when pregnant, it is wise to exercise caution and fully research whether fungi are safe to consume during pregnancy, and how exactly to prepare them.
Morel mushrooms are completely safe to eat during pregnancy, however, you should ensure that your morels are properly cleaned and cooked, as raw mushrooms are difficult to digest and can cause sickness, especially in pregnant women.
In this article, we are going to consider any potential risks that morel mushrooms might pose to a pregnant woman, as well as looking at any health benefits that these delicious mushrooms could provide to a mother and unborn child.
Upon finding out that you’re pregnant, the world of food and drink can feel like a minefield. Suddenly, all of your favorite dishes could pose a risk to your health.
Most people know that alcohol, caffeine and shellfish are immediate no-nos, but mushrooms? This is a bit of a grey area, and you’re right to consider what effects morel mushrooms may have before tucking into a risotto or pouring a wild mushroom sauce over a steak.
What are Morels?
So, what exactly are morel mushrooms? Morel mushrooms are wild mushrooms that are packed with flavor; they’re earthy and nutty, and a big favorite with foodies.
Their meaty texture has made them a particularly popular option for those who eat a plant-based diet and are looking for meat substitutes.
With morel mushrooms being found in many restaurant menus and vegetarian options, understandably, you want to know whether consuming morels is going to have any effect on you or your baby’s health during pregnancy.
Research shows that morel mushrooms are completely safe to eat whilst pregnant, as long as the mushrooms are properly cleaned and cooked. We’ll get on to what this means in a minute!
How to Safely Prepare Morels
To make sure that the morel mushrooms you’re eating are safe to consume during pregnancy, there are a few steps you need to make.
If you’re eating them in a restaurant, the chefs are most likely are taking these steps, but it might be worth asking the staff to check that the morel mushrooms are completely cooked, for example, as raw mushrooms are not recommended during pregnancy.
Firstly, your morel mushrooms should be as fresh as possible. Your mushrooms should also be washed, but not soaked, to get rid of any soil or dirt they may still have on them.
Soaking mushrooms can change their texture as they absorb the water, and traces of dirt can persist when they are soaked in this manner. To overcome this issue, many chefs recommend using a brush to remove any dirt from mushrooms prior to cooking.
Cooking Morel Mushrooms
Even though fresh morel mushrooms can typically be consumed raw, this is not recommended for pregnant women. The soil in which they are grown can contain Toxoplasma gondii, a pathogen that causes Toxoplasmosis.
This illness is rare, but it is dangerous – it could cause complications in pregnancy as serious as miscarriage. Washing and cooking your morel mushrooms removes the risk of this pathogen being present.
Mushrooms also contain chitin, which is difficult for the body to break down. Cooking your morels helps your body to digest them more easily, so that the discomfort or indigestion often suffered during pregnancy is not worsened by consuming these mushrooms.
They can be pan-fried, sautéed, breaded – it doesn’t really matter, as long as the mushroom is cooked!
Though you must wash and cook your morel mushrooms during pregnancy, this does not mean you cannot consume them cold.
Feel free to refrigerate your morels and use them in salads once they have been cooked, as any health risks should already be eliminated by perfectly preparing them.
If you’re looking to cook with morel mushrooms at home and not sure how to go about it, check out some recipes here. Wild asparagus and morel mushrooms? Yum!
Health Benefits of Morels
Morel mushrooms are not only safe for you to consume during pregnancy, they actually provide many health benefits that could boost both a pregnant mother’s (and therefore their unborn child’s) health. Morels are packed with fiber and protein, but also contain vitamins and minerals such as:
- Vitamin D
They also contain a helping of Vitamin E, potassium, thiamine and Vitamin B6. Impressive, right? The fresher the morel mushrooms you are consuming, the denser they are in these nutrients, so be sure to check your morels were harvested recently.
One thing to be very vigilant about is false morels – a species of mushroom that looks much like a morel mushroom but can be poisonous if eaten raw.
True morels are completely hollow on the inside, so this is a really useful marker to ensure that the mushrooms you are purchasing and consuming are the real deal. Whether pregnant or not, any wild mushrooms should be cleaned and cooked to avoid any health problems.
If you’re feeling cautious about consuming morel mushrooms not having prepared them yourself, maybe it’s worth taking control of the situation on your own by growing your own morel mushrooms.
Plenty of kits are available online, and this way, you can guarantee the ultimate freshness and prepare your mushrooms as desired.
So, can a pregnant woman eat morels? Yes, absolutely, and they provide a lot of vitamins and minerals that the body will be thankful for during pregnancy.
However, morel mushrooms should be vigilantly cleaned and cooked to prevent any stomach upset that could be much more severe during pregnancy.
Look for morel mushrooms that are fresh, and, if in doubt at a restaurant, always ask a server whether a dish containing the fungi are safe to be consumed by a pregnant woman.