Should You Eat Suya During Pregnancy?


Pregnancy comes with many cravings, and you may begin to make unusual food demands. During pregnancy, there’s a hormonal change that likely causes an alteration in the sense of smell and taste, especially during the first trimester and the peak of the second trimester.  


Although the cravings are normal, each meal's nutritional benefits and side effects should not be treated lightly. Suya, a widespread delicacy, is one of such cravings. 


This article gives a guide on the health benefits of suya as well as nutrient deficiency


What is suya?

Suya is a spicy street food endemic to Nigeria. It is also known as kebab, steak or meat barbecue.  It is referred to as street food because it is not a dish you eat in a restaurant. It is mostly sold at the roadside and has become a cultural icon, gaining popularity across borders to Ghana, Sierra Leone and other West African countries. 


This spicy, delicious grilled meat originates in Northern Nigeria as the Hausas mostly prepare it. It is prepared by threading the meat already cut into thin strips in a skewer, marinating it in various spices and placing it to grill over smoldering coals. 


The spice known as Yaji is a combination of peanuts, cayenne pepper, ginger and other dried vegetable. They contribute to the unique taste and aroma. Slices of cabbage, onions, and masa mostly accompany this. 



The main ingredients of suya are according to preference;


  • Skewered meat: Ram, goat, chicken or organ meats like liver, tripe or kidney.


  • Spices: This is known as yaji. It consists of peanut powder, seasoning powder, cayenne pepper, ginger powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cloves, nutmeg, paprika and other spices of choice.


  • Veggies: Cucumber, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, fresh pepper. It is usually used as a dressing.


  • Vegetable oil


Health benefits of suya in pregnancy

  • Boosts the immune system: The zinc content and other nutrients aid in repairing body tissues and promoting the immune system to ensure the body's functionality.


  • Prevents anaemia: Consumption of suya can help prevent iron deficiency, reducing the chances of anaemia common in pregnant women.


  • Good source of protein: Meat provides the body with the necessary amount of protein for bodybuilding. 

Suya in pregnancy: is it safe?

Suya is enriched with a considerable amount of nutrients essential for human development. These nutrients may include about 14g of protein, 8g of carbohydrates, iron, 7g of fat, and 145 calories per serving.


Protein is excellent for the growth and development of the fetus. Iron supports the body in the production of haemoglobin, which contributes to reducing the risk of anaemia in pregnancy.


However, because of the high content of carbohydrates and calories, it is advisable to consume in minimal portions. Also, undercooked suya can pose the threat of a bacterial infection that harms both the mother and the baby.


Side effects of suya in pregnancy 

Despite its mouth-watering effects, there are potential risks associated with its intake. Below are the possible side effects of suya;


  • High risk of heart diseases: Studies have shown that unhealthy beef consumption, or “red meat,” can increase calories resulting in heart diseases. The oil sprinkled during preparation does not guarantee to be entirely free of unhealthy calories. 


  • Suya may cause diabetes: If you’re diabetic, reducing the intake of suya would be advisable. Consumption of a certain gram of beef can increase the risk of diabetes. 


  • Suya may cause food poisoning: It is usually prepared in the least healthy way, ranging from the environment to the preparation process, making it unsafe for consumption. Also, because it is a roadside meal, exposure to flies and dust particles can contribute to stomach upset.


  • Risk of cancer: Suya can pose a cancer risk due to the smoke emitted through its preparation. Grilling it instead can help to reduce the chances. 


As much as the spicy Nigerian street food contains sufficient nutrients, it should be moderately eaten and with precaution. Ensure that it is processed to prevent diarrhoea and other food-borne diseases. The environment also is a major determinant of healthy food consumption. Therefore, adequate attention must be paid to the vendor's hygienic status and environment.


Eating a generous amount of vegetables is equally advised to help build antioxidants that neutralize some toxic metabolites. In case of any reaction from consumption, never hesitate to contact your healthcare provider.


Frequently asked questions (FAQs)


Can I eat suya during pregnancy?

From the above, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with consuming suya during pregnancy. However, you must adhere strictly to the preparation method, exercise moderation and support with sufficient vegetables.


Does suya cause diarrhoea, and are there other dangers of suya?

 Suya cannot cause diarrhoea if well processed.


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