Bresaola in pregnancy

Bresaola in pregnancy

Bresaola and pregnancy


Bresaola is a typical cold cut from northern Italy. The most famous one is originally from Valtellina (province of Sondrio, Lombardy) and enjoys the recognition of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).

Bresaola is obtained by processing some muscles located in the rear limbs of beef or horse ( topside , topside , topside and underside). The meat , after being trimmed, salted and left to rest (about 15 days), is bagged and seasoned (at least 30 days). It is therefore a preserved meat that belongs to the first fundamental group of foods .

In the kitchen it is mostly used raw for recipes for appetizers and main courses, however there are also recipes that require it to be cooked quickly in a pan (especially in sauces for first courses ).


Pregnancy or gestation is the special physiological process during which the conceptus develops in preparation for birth.

Also known as an interesting state, it represents a very delicate period of about 9 months, during which the mother is required to satisfy all the needs of the unborn child. Among these, the nutritional intake is of great importance because, without the elements necessary for development, the embryo/fetus runs the risk of suffering serious deficiencies which increase the risk of pathologies, malformations or miscarriage. There are also many risks associated with overeating and consequent obesity and/or metabolic pathologies. As if that weren’t enough, the child can be particularly subject to complications due to: poisoning ( bacterial, fungal, polluting toxins ), infections ( viruses , bacteria ) and infestations (parasites ).

To evaluate whether or not bresaola can be a suitable food for pregnancy, it is necessary to carefully evaluate its usefulness in the pregnant woman’s diet and any related risks.

Nutritional utility

Function of bresaola in pregnancy

As we have anticipated, bresaola is a product that belongs to the fundamental group of foods . It is an abundant nutritional source of:

  • High biological value proteins
  • Useful minerals (iron, zinc , potassium , phosphorus )
  • Useful vitamins (B1, PP , B12 etc).

Bresaola has a low intake of fats and calories , and does not contain lactose and gluten ; these characteristics make it suitable for most diets.

For a NORMAL subject (excluding gestation for a moment), the average portion of bresaola would be equal to 50 g (about 150 kcal ) and the maximum frequency of consumption 1-2 times a week.
In gestation all nutritional requirements increase; for reasons closely related to the composition of foods and their frequency of consumption, those most often deficient are: folic acid , iron, vitamin B12 , vitamin D and omega 3 essential fatty acids .

Bresaola helps to provide interesting quantities of both highly bioavailable (emic) iron and cobalamin (vit B12), and all in all it does not provide excessive levels of saturated fat , cholesterol and total calories. It would therefore seem to be a perfect food for pregnancy but, as we will see, unfortunately this is not the case.

Risks and Dangers

Bresaola and pregnancy hypertension

Because of the salting process, as happens with other cured meats , bresaola is very rich in sodium . This mineral, if present in excess in the diet, can harm the health of sodium-sensitive subjects, encouraging the onset or worsening of primary arterial hypertension .

The so-called gestational hypertension, which arises more easily from the third trimester , can worsen the well-being of both the fetus and the mother. It therefore becomes necessary to keep it monitored, making sure that it does not exceed the threshold of 90 mmHg and 140 mmHg (minimum and maximum); in case of increase (or pre-existing hypertension), the assumption of any salty food such as bresaola must be suspended completely (or avoided from the beginning).

Bresaola, nitrites / nitrates and pregnancy diabetes

Commercial bresaola is added with sodium/potassium nitrites or nitrates and ascorbic acid ( vitamin C ), useful for increasing its conservation; on the other hand, the effect of these preservatives is limited to hindering oxidation and bacterial proliferation, while they are ineffective against parasites. Furthermore, we remind you that nitrates and nitrites (identifiable with the abbreviations E249-E250 and E251-E252 mentioned on the label ) increase the risk of formation of nitrosamines. In turn, these unwanted compounds are certainly implicated in the formation of various forms of cancer, such as stomach cancer, but in pregnancy they take on a different negative role. Some experimental insights have in fact correlated the abundance of nitrosamines in the diet with the increased risk of pregnancy diabetes , a metabolic pathology of the mother that can induce fetal malformations and therefore to be avoided absolutely. The cause may be the autoimmune stimulation by nitrosamines of the immune units against the pancreatic beta cells in the pancreas.

Bresaola and parasitosis

The parasitic pathology that generally scares future mothers the most is toxoplasmosis (from Toxoplasma godii ). It is a fairly dangerous infestation for the fetus, but harmless for the pregnant woman. Once contracted, it can lead to birth defects or fetal death .

We remind you that, even if contracted, toxoplasmosis does not necessarily have these frightening effects. Moreover, in the first phase of gestation there is less chance that it passes from the mother to the child by crossing the placenta , but the damage can be serious. Conversely, in the last period there is a greater chance of it happening, but the damage should be less. However, beef and horse are not animals that typically contain toxoplasma within the muscle fibers , therefore bresaola should not be an effective vehicle for this parasite.
Bresaola is also free from the risk of contracting tapeworm ( from Tenia solium), which affects almost exclusively pork ; hence the name of swine tapeworm. The same goes for trichinellosis (Trichinella).

Cattle, on the other hand, can be carriers of Cryptosporidium parvum (a pathogen of cryptosporidiosis), which, however, is limited to colonizing the intestine . Rarely this pathology, even if it spreads via the faecal oral route , affects humans via food.
Bresaola is therefore not a particularly dangerous food from the point of view of parasites, but the general recommendation to avoid raw meat remains. However, if you still want to eat a few slices of “zero risk” bresaola, you still have the option of quickly sautéing them in the pan.



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