If feta cheese was made from pasteurized milk, it’s probably safe to eat because the pasteurization process will kill any harmful bacteria. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says pregnant women should only eat feta cheese made from pasteurized milk. You should only eat cheese that has a clear label that says “made from pasteurized milk.”
Even so, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that there is always a risk for pregnant women who eat soft cheeses. Even pasteurized products could contain bacteria if they are made in a factory with poor hygiene.
What is Feta Cheese?
Greece is where feta cheese comes from.
It has a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), which means that it can only be called “feta” if it comes from certain parts of Greece.
In these parts of the world, feta is made from the milk of sheep and goats that eat the grass there. The cheese’s unique qualities come from the environment in which it was made.
When sheep’s milk is used to make feta, the taste is sharp and tangy, but when goat’s milk is used, the taste is more mild.
Feta is made in blocks, and when you touch them, they are firm. But it can crumble when you cut it, and it tastes creamy.
The Risk of Eating Feta Cheese
The main risk of eating feta cheese or any soft cheese during pregnancy is that it contains a type of bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes, which can be extremely harmful to your unborn baby.
Listeria monocytogenes is frequently found in animal products such as dairy and meat, as well as foods grown in contaminated soil, such as celery. It can also be found in meat products such as cold cuts and hot dogs.
Many animals can carry the bacterium without becoming ill, so farmers are unaware they have it. Animal products, such as cheese from a cow, will also contain the bacteria.
It’s also a cunning bacterium. It actually grows at refrigeration temperatures, so refrigerating foods containing Listeria will not prevent the bacteria from growing.
Cheese may appear and smell normal in the presence of bacteria, so you’d have no way of knowing if the bacteria is present. You might not notice anything was wrong after eating a soft cheese containing the bacteria, either.
It will not necessarily make everyone sick who consumes it, but Listeria is especially dangerous to pregnant women, people over the age of 65, and people with compromised immune systems.
According to the CDC, Hispanic women who are pregnant have a 24 times greater risk of contracting Listeria, so it’s important to be aware of your risk before eating any soft cheese.
What Is Listeria?
Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria) is a type of bacteria that causes listeriosis, a type of infection. Soil, dust, water, processed foods, raw meat, and animal feces all contain the bacterium.
The majority of listeriosis cases are caused by eating contaminated food. Most people only get a mild case of listeriosis. When a mother is infected while pregnant, it can cause much more serious illness in unborn babies or newborns. Fetal infection can result in miscarriage or stillbirth. A newborn infection can result in pneumonia and death. As a result, prevention of listeriosis during pregnancy is critical.
To reduce their risk, pregnant women should avoid certain foods such as hot dogs, deli meats, and soft cheeses. Following food safety guidelines and understanding how your food is prepared can also help prevent this infection.
Why is Listeria More Serious for Pregnant Women?
Eating Listeria-contaminated food does not usually cause problems in healthy adults who are not pregnant. According to a review published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, listeriosis is uncommon in non-pregnant healthy adults, but it is up to 20 times more common in pregnant women. The infection causes no symptoms or problems in the majority of pregnant women. The fetus, on the other hand, is extremely vulnerable to this type of bacterium. The infection has the potential to spread into and across the placenta. Listeria infection, also known as listeriosis, is severe and often fatal for babies.
What are the Symptoms of Listeria?
Symptoms can appear anywhere between two days and two months after being exposed to the bacteria. Healthy adults who are not pregnant usually exhibit no symptoms.
Symptoms in pregnant women may be similar to flu or cold symptoms. Fever, headaches, muscle aches, chills, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, and confusion are some of the symptoms.
If you are pregnant and experience any of these symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider. A pregnant woman infected with listeriosis may not feel sick at all. She may, however, pass the infection to her unborn child without realizing it.
Treatment of Listeria in Pregnancy
Antibiotics are used to treat Listeria. Penicillin is usually prescribed by doctors. Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole may be used instead if you are allergic to penicillin.
Babies born with listeriosis are given the same antibiotics.
Health Benefits of Feta Cheese
Feta cheese’s high nutritional profile makes it an excellent choice for snacks and meals. Aside from essential nutrients, it also contains B-vitamins and magnesium, which are required for a healthy metabolism. Here are some of the most important health benefits of feta cheese.
1. Improves Digestive Health
Lactobacilli bacteria, which aid digestion, are found in probiotics found in dairy products. Although yoghurt is one of the most abundant sources of these bacteria, feta cheese and other dairy products also contain them.
Researchers discovered that the good bacteria in feta cheese can survive in the low pH environment of the stomach. As a result, feta cheese aids digestion even on an empty stomach.
2. Feta Cheese Improves Bone Health
Calcium and protein are two essential nutrients for children’s bone development. However, research shows that calcium consumption is essential for bone health at all stages of life.
Feta cheese is high in protein and calcium. As a result, it is good for your bones. Calcium is important for building and keeping bones healthy. According to one study, protein reduces the impact of post-fracture bone loss and increases muscle strength. Proteins benefit bone health by increasing calcium absorption and muscle mass, as well as suppressing parathyroid hormone.
Getting enough protein and calcium can help prevent bone fractures and osteoporosis, which is especially important for older people. Calcium, according to research, can help with bone density loss caused by menopause and reduce the risk of fractures.
3. Prevents Cardiometabolic Diseases
Consumption of feta cheese may lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Although dairy products, such as feta cheese, are high in saturated fat, they are also high in B vitamins, calcium, and phosphorus, which aid in the treatment of many coronary heart disease-related conditions.
Calcium consumption is beneficial to the heart, according to research. Furthermore, it is necessary to supplement it with vitamin D for better absorption, which aids in the prevention of CVDs. Although feta cheese contains vitamin D, eating it in conjunction with other vitamin D-rich foods can help improve your cardiovascular health.
4. Vitamin Absorption
Without enough fat in your diet, you may develop a fat-soluble vitamin deficiency, such as vitamin D deficiency. It usually happens when you eat only low-fat foods. Without fats, you run the risk of having problems with fat-soluble vitamins like D. Vitamin D deficiency can harm your bones, immune system, and cells. Although it is unclear how much feta cheese you need to consume to get enough vitamin D, including it in your meals may help. Feta cheese is also high in Vitamin B12 and Vitamin A, both of which are beneficial to the body.
5. Feta Cheese Aids Weight Management
Again, the role of calcium in weight loss is self-evident. According to one study, calcium consumption aids in the reduction of body weight, BMI, and waist circumference. However, more research is needed to reach a conclusion. Feta cheese is high in protein as well. According to research, a high-protein diet boosts metabolism. Proteins also increase satiety and make you feel fuller for longer. As a result, they suppress your appetite and assist you in losing weight in a healthy manner.
Feta Buying Guide
The best way to tell what kind of feta you’re buying is to carefully examine the packaging label and the ingredients used to make the cheese.
On the front label of many feta cheeses, the type of milk used to make the product is also stated. Others may require a closer examination of the ingredient list on the back of the package.
If a feta cheese says it was made in Greece, you can be sure it was made mostly with sheep’s milk. Otherwise, cow’s or goat’s milk could be used to make the feta.
If you’re buying fresh cheese from a cheese shop, it’s best to ask an employee if you’re not sure what kind of cheese you’re getting.
Feta contains probiotics and fatty acids. This cheese, however, is relatively high in sodium. Pregnant women should also avoid unpasteurized feta cheese.
However, for the vast majority of people, feta is perfectly safe to consume. It can also be used in a wide range of recipes, from appetizers to desserts. Finally, feta is a tasty and nutritious addition to most people’s diets.