Pregnancy

Can Pregnant Women Eat Cream Cheese?

Team Peanutabout 2 months ago5 min read

Getting your head around which foods to avoid during pregnancy can be tricky. And cheese is often a gray area. You might have heard that it’s best to avoid soft cheese while you’re pregnant, but what exactly does that mean? Can pregnant women eat cream cheese?

Can Pregnant Women Eat Cream Cheese?

Let’s start with the good news: Eating cream cheese while pregnant is typically safe.

And the not-quite-so-good news: Ripened soft cheeses and soft blue cheeses, such as camembert, brie, and gorgonzola, are best left off your pregnancy menu in most situations.

Let’s find out more.

In this article 📝

  • Can pregnant women eat cream cheese?
  • Is eating cream cheese while pregnant good for you?
  • Cheese and pregnancy FAQs

Can pregnant women eat cream cheese?

Yes! Your morning bagel is safe (maybe with a decaf coffee on the side).

But why exactly is cream cheese safe during pregnancy when other soft cheeses aren’t?

The answer is that cream cheese isn’t really a soft cheese at all.

It’s a cheese spread made from pasteurized cream (and sometimes milk) that’s been curdled by adding lactic acid bacteria (that’s “good” bacteria).

And the important detail there is that cream cheese is created from pasteurized dairy products.

In other words, the cream and milk have been heated to kill any harmful bacteria.

This includes listeria bacteria, which can cause an infection called listeriosis.

If you develop listeriosis during pregnancy, the infection can be more serious.

That’s because your immune system isn’t as strong as normal and can’t fight off the infection so well.

And there’s a slight chance that getting listeriosis could affect your baby, leading to miscarriage, stillbirth, or illness when your baby is a newborn.

But you can help prevent listeriosis by sticking to pasteurized dairy products (such as cream cheese) while you’re pregnant.

Just double-check that any cream cheese you eat says “pasteurized” on the packaging.

Is eating cream cheese while pregnant good for you?

So cream cheese is a tasty and safe food option during pregnancy, but it’s not exactly a “health food”.

The main thing is that it’s high in fat, especially saturated fat (the type of fat that can raise your cholesterol levels and impact your heart health).

Of course, you need some fat in your diet—and particularly when you’re growing a brand new person!

But it’s a good plan to keep foods that are high in saturated fats as an occasional treat.

Instead, you can aim to get most of your fat from sources rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (the “healthy” ones).

Seeds, nuts, avocado, and olive oil are all great choices.

Smashed avocado is rather delicious on a bagel too…

Cheese and pregnancy FAQs

Can you eat Philadelphia cream cheese when pregnant?

Philadelphia and other well-known brands of cream cheese are made using pasteurized cream and milk.

So yep, they’re safe to eat when you’re pregnant. (But always double-check the packaging for the magic word “pasteurized.”)

Can pregnant women eat cheesecake?

Yes, if:

  • It’s a no-bake style of cheesecake made with pasteurized dairy but without eggs. Eating raw eggs can leave you at risk of food poisoning from salmonella bacteria. This isn’t likely to harm your baby but could give you unpleasant symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.
  • It’s a baked cheesecake that’s been thoroughly cooked (this would kill any harmful bacteria in the eggs or even in unpasteurized dairy products). But if you can’t be confident that it’s fully cooked, it might be best to give it a miss.

What cheeses to avoid when pregnant?

Eating any cheeses made with unpasteurized (raw) milk isn’t recommended during pregnancy. These include:

  • Mold-ripened soft cheeses surrounded with a white coating: such as camembert, brie, chèvre
  • Soft blue cheeses: such as gorgonzola, Danish blue, Roquefort

But these cheeses do become safe to eat if you cook them all the way through until steaming hot (which kills any bad bacteria).

So baked camembert is still on the menu if that’s something you enjoy.

And let’s end on a positive note, with the cheeses that are safe to eat—hot or cold—during pregnancy:

  • Hard pasteurized cheeses: such as parmesan, cheddar, stilton
  • Soft pasteurized cheeses: such as mozzarella, ricotta, cottage cheese, and, of course, cream cheese

Bon appétit! 🧀

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