Pregnant and gingerbread nuts

Gingerbread nuts are among the most famous Sinterklaas delicacies. While gingerbread used to consist of aniseed-like chunks of chewy dough, nowadays it refers to crispy gingerbread nuts. They can be found in stores from August and are eaten until the Sinterklaas festival on December 5. Due to the small size, you usually eat several at a time. This can lead to you quickly eating too much of it. Because gingerbread nuts contain cinnamon, it is wise not to eat too much of it during pregnancy. But how many can you eat and why can too many gingerbread nuts be bad for pregnant women?

  • Gingerbread nuts versus spiced nuts
  • Peppernuts
  • Gingerbread buttons
  • Health
  • Harmful substances in cinnamon
  • Maximum recommended amount
  • Coumarin in gingerbread nuts
  • How many gingerbread nuts can you eat?
  • Number of gingerbread and spiced nuts during pregnancy
  • Gingerbread nuts during pregnancy


Gingerbread nuts versus spiced nuts

When people talk about gingerbread nuts, they often mean gingerbread nuts. However, the two Sinterklaas treats are indeed different.


Real gingerbread nuts are a kind of chewy chunks with an irregular shape. Gingerbread nuts often stick to your teeth when you chew them and the taste is sweet and anise-like. This gingerbread has been distributed for centuries during the Sinterklaas celebration. In the past, the gingerbread was not only eaten during Sinterklaas, but all year round. Only when the Sinterklaas festival was celebrated more extensively did it become a real tradition to hand out gingerbread nuts only during Sinterklaas.

Gingerbread buttons

Kruidnoten are crispy round cookies with a more regular shape. Kruidnoten are harder and are prepared with gingerbread spices. The gingerbread has been eaten since the nineteenth century, at a time when spices from Asia became more common and cheaper in the Netherlands. The gingerbread has taken over the tradition of the gingerbread. Spice nuts are therefore commonly called gingerbread nuts. In the twenty-first century, many more spiced nuts are eaten than gingerbread nuts. Kruidnoten are also coated with, for example, a chocolate coating.Pepernoten / Source: M.Minderhoud, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)Kruidnoten / Source: Nietjuh, Pixabay 


Gingerbread nuts are made from rye flour, honey, baking powder and spices. Gingerbread nuts contain little fat. Kruidnoten, on the other hand, are prepared with wheat flour, butter or margarine, sugar and spices. Spice nuts contain much more saturated fat than gingerbread nuts. Spice nuts also contain less fiber because they are prepared with wheat flour instead of rye flour. Finally, spiced nuts contain more calories compared to gingerbread nuts. Gingerbread nuts are therefore a better choice than spiced nuts. But be careful, both types contain a lot of sugar and therefore neither type is a healthy snack.

Harmful substances in cinnamon

Both gingerbread nuts and spiced nuts contain cinnamon. Cinnamon can be harmful during pregnancy. This is because cinnamon contains the flavoring agent coumarin. This flavoring can be harmful to health because in large quantities it can reduce blood clotting. Consequences of eating large amounts of coumarin include headaches, liver damage and kidney damage. But in the long term, large amounts of coumarin can also increase the risk of cancer. That is why a maximum recommended daily amount has been established for coumarin. It is advisable, especially for pregnant women, not to eat more than this maximum recommended amount, because the harmful effects on the baby are unknown. Too much may lead to birth defects.

Maximum recommended amount

The maximum recommended amount of coumarin is set at 0.1 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. If you use the most common type of cinnamon, which also contains the highest amount of coumarin, you can eat approximately 50 milligrams of cinnamon per kilogram of body weight. A woman weighing 80 kilos is therefore allowed a maximum of 4000 milligrams of cinnamon per day, which amounts to 4 grams of cinnamon per day. A woman weighing 60 kilos can eat a maximum of 3 grams of cinnamon per day.

Coumarin in gingerbread nuts

The amount of cinnamon in gingerbread and spiced nuts differs per recipe, but it is legally established how much coumarin certain products may contain. Traditional and seasonal products such as gingerbread nuts and spiced nuts may contain a maximum of 50 milligrams of coumarin per kilo of product. A requirement is that cinnamon is indicated in the ingredients list, so that it is clear to the consumer that the product contains cinnamon.

How many gingerbread nuts can you eat?

The maximum number of gingerbread nuts that can be eaten partly depends on your weight, the recipe for the gingerbread nuts or spiced nuts and the type of cinnamon used. If you assume the maximum legal amount, you can eat 2 grams of gingerbread per kilogram of body weight. A woman weighing 80 kilos can therefore eat a maximum of 160 grams of gingerbread nuts per day. If you weigh 60 kilos, you can only eat a maximum of 120 grams of gingerbread nuts per day. If the gingerbread nuts are coated with chocolate, you can eat more of them, because the chocolate does not contain cinnamon.

Number of gingerbread and spiced nuts during pregnancy

In the table below you will find an overview of the maximum amount of gingerbread and spiced nuts that a pregnant woman weighing 60 kilos can eat daily.

Kind Average weight per piece (g) Maximum daily amount (g) Maximum daily quantity (pieces)
Gingerbread 3 120 grams 40 pieces
Kruidnoot 1 120 grams 120 pieces
Chocolate gingerbread 2 240 grams 120 pieces


Gingerbread nuts during pregnancy

As shown in the table, you can eat a fair amount of gingerbread and spiced nuts during pregnancy. The amounts in the table are the maximum recommended amounts. It is better to stay below this and stick to a handful of gingerbread or spiced nuts. Spiced nuts in particular contain a lot of sugar and saturated fats and few valuable nutrients for the baby. This does not take into account other cinnamon-containing products that are eaten during the day. For example, apple pie, gingerbread, gingerbread or some teas also contain cinnamon. If these products are eaten on the same day, you can of course eat fewer gingerbread nuts.

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