Yes, it is generally safe to eat Philadelphia cream cheese in moderation during pregnancy. Philadelphia cream cheese is made from pasteurized milk and cream and does not contain any harmful ingredients or bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses. As with any food, it’s best to consume Philadelphia cream cheese as part of a balanced diet.
Is Philadelphia Cream Cheese Pasteurized?
Philadelphia cream cheese is made from pasteurized milk and cream. The pasteurization process heats the milk and cream to at least 145°F for 30 minutes or 161°F for 15 seconds. This kills any potentially harmful bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria that could be present.
Pasteurization is a key safety step for pregnant women, as contracting a foodborne illness from contaminated cheese or other dairy products can lead to serious complications during pregnancy. Consuming pasteurized dairy like Philadelphia cream cheese is recommended over unpasteurized products.
Nutrition Profile of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
Here is the nutrition profile for a 1-ounce serving of original Philadelphia cream cheese:
As you can see, Philadelphia cream cheese is high in fat, especially saturated fat. It also contains a moderate amount of cholesterol and sodium.
The American Pregnancy Association recommends pregnant women limit their saturated fat intake to no more than 10% of total calories. Too much saturated fat and cholesterol can increase the risk of developing preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.
Therefore, portion control and moderation are key when consuming Philadelphia cream cheese. Pregnant women should be mindful not to regularly exceed the recommended serving size of 1-2 tablespoons.
Is Soft Cheese Safe During Pregnancy?
According to the CDC, soft cheeses like cream cheese, ricotta, feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, and Mexican-style cheeses such as queso fresco carry a higher risk of containing the bacteria Listeria.
Listeria can easily spread in the soft, moist texture of these cheeses. If infected, it can cause the illness listeriosis which may result in miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm labor, or illness in the newborn baby.
However, pasteurized soft cheeses are considered safe to eat during pregnancy. The pasteurization process eliminates any harmful Listeria bacteria that may be present. Philadelphia cream cheese is pasteurized, so eating it does not carry this increased risk.
The FDA recommends pregnant women avoid eating soft cheeses unless they are clearly labeled as pasteurized or made from pasteurized milk. When in doubt, it’s best to avoid soft cheeses that do not specify this information.
Tips for Safely Consuming Philadelphia Cream Cheese While Pregnant
Here are some tips for safely enjoying Philadelphia cream cheese during pregnancy:
– Check the label to confirm it is made from pasteurized milk. Only purchase pasteurized products.
– Carefully read ingredient labels and avoid flavored cream cheeses that contain unpasteurized ingredients like fresh herbs or vegetables.
– Consume cream cheese by the expiration date, and promptly refrigerate an opened package. Throw away if mold is present.
– Avoid pre-made spreads and dips containing cream cheese at potlucks or restaurants, where you don’t know how long the items have been sitting out.
– Limit portion sizes to 1-2 tablespoons per serving and avoid overconsumption.
– Eat cream cheese as part of a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Don’t eat multiple servings per day.
– Practice safe food handling, cooking, and storage methods to prevent cross-contamination of ready-to-eat cream cheese spreads.
Health Benefits of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
When consumed in moderation, Philadelphia cream cheese can provide some health benefits for pregnant women:
– **Protein** – Cream cheese is a good source of protein, containing 5g per 1-ounce serving. Getting adequate protein during pregnancy is vital for proper growth and development of fetal tissue, organs, muscle and the placenta.
– **Calcium** – Cream cheese provides 69mg of calcium per serving. Calcium is essential for building baby’s bones and regulating muscle, heart and nervous system function.
– **Choline** – Philadelphia cream cheese contains small amounts of choline, a nutrient that helps prevent certain birth defects and aids in brain and spinal cord development.
– **Probiotics** – Some varieties like Philadelphia Whipped Cream Cheese contain probiotic cultures that support digestive and immune health in pregnant women.
– **Vitamin A** – Cream cheese provides a small dose of vitamin A which promotes cell growth, healthy eyesight, immune function, and fetal tissue development.
When incorporating cream cheese into a healthy pregnancy diet, be sure to stay within recommended portions and accompany it with nutritious whole foods.
Risks of Eating Too Much Philadelphia Cream Cheese
Despite its nutritional benefits, there are some potential risks associated with eating too much Philadelphia cream cheese during pregnancy:
– **Weight gain** – Cream cheese is high in saturated fat and calories. Consuming too much can cause excessive weight gain, which raises risks like preeclampsia, macrosomia, and cesarean delivery.
– **Gestational diabetes** – Excess saturated fat intake is linked to a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
– **GI issues** – Too much cream cheese can cause constipation due to its low fiber content. It may also trigger acid reflux, a common complaint during pregnancy.
– **Nutritional imbalances** – Overindulging in cream cheese can displace healthier foods in the diet. This can lead to deficiencies in nutrients like iron, folate, and vitamin D that are crucial for pregnant women.
– **Foodborne illness** – Improper storage or handling of cream cheese increases the risk of exposure to dangerous bacteria like Listeria, even if pasteurized.
Sticking to a serving size of 1-2 tablespoons per day can help minimize risks and keep cream cheese intake under control.
Healthy Ways to Enjoy Philadelphia Cream Cheese While Pregnant
Here are some nutritious recipe ideas for enjoying Philadelphia cream cheese in moderation during pregnancy:
– Use it as a spread on whole wheat toast or bagels, adding sliced tomatoes, avocado, smoked salmon or hummus for extra nutrition.
– Enjoy it on top of baked potatoes instead of regular sour cream.
– Use small amounts as a creamy base for fruit and yogurt smoothies.
– Mix in chopped herbs, lemon zest, roasted garlic or spices to create flavorful dips for raw vegetables.
– Make mini cheese quesadillas with spinach, black beans and salsa on whole wheat tortillas.
– Add a tablespoon to omelets, frittatas or scramble with vegetables for breakfast.
– Create healthy chicken salad with Greek yogurt and cream cheese for extra tang.
– Blend it into hummus, bean dips or creamy tomato soup for rich texture.
– Swirl a spoonful into oatmeal along with fruit, nuts, or cinnamon.
– Use it in moderation in recipes for muffins, quick breads, or cheesecake with fresh fruit topping.
When to Avoid or Limit Philadelphia Cream Cheese
There are some situations in which it may be best for pregnant women to avoid or limit cream cheese entirely:
– If diagnosed with gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or hyperlipidemia, due to its high saturated fat content.
– If experiencing heartburn, nausea, or other gastrointestinal issues that are exacerbated by consuming it.
– If you have a food sensitivity or allergy to milk products. Philadelphia cream cheese contains milk and should be avoided.
– If advised by your doctor to avoid all soft cheeses due to a higher risk pregnancy. Always follow your provider’s recommendations.
– If you cannot find a pasteurized cream cheese product from a reputable source.
– If you cannot control portion sizes or find yourself overindulging. Overconsumption should be avoided.
– If you observe signs of spoilage like mold, off odors, or a slimy texture. Only eat cream cheese when fresh.
Philadelphia cream cheese made from pasteurized milk is considered safe to eat during pregnancy. However, it is best consumed in moderation as part of a nutritious diet, not exceeding 1-2 tablespoons per serving. This helps minimize risks related to excessive saturated fat, weight gain, gestational diabetes, gastrointestinal issues and nutritional imbalances. Avoid cream cheese if you have been advised not to consume soft cheeses or are unable to verify the product is pasteurized. With proper portion control and care in handling and storage, pregnant women can safely reap the benefits of Philadelphia cream cheese in their diet.