Foods To Eat When You're Pregnant
Highly nutritious foods to eat when you’re pregnant.
Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy is very important. During this time, your body needs additional nutrients, vitamins and minerals. In fact, you may need 350–500 extra calories each day during the second and third trimesters. A diet lacking in key nutrients may negatively affect the baby’s development. Poor eating habits and excess weight gain may also increase your risk of gestational diabetes and pregnancy or birth complications. Put simply, choosing healthy, nutritious foods will help ensure the health of you and your baby. It will also make it a lot easier to lose the pregnancy weight after you’ve given birth.
This list should be a good start towards a healthy, well-nourished pregnancy.
Dairy products, especially yogurt, are a great choice for pregnant women. They help you meet increased protein and calcium needs. Probiotics may also help reduce the risk of complications. Dairy products contain two types of high-quality protein: casein and whey. Dairy is the best dietary source of calcium, and provides high amounts of phosphorus, various B vitamins, magnesium and zinc. Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, contains more calcium than most other dairy products. Some varieties also contain probiotic bacteria, which support digestive health. Women who are lactose intolerant may also be able to tolerate yogurt, especially probiotic yogurt. Probiotic supplements during pregnancy may reduce your risk of complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, vaginal infections and allergies.
Legumes are great sources of folate, fiber and many other nutrients. Folate is a very important nutrient during pregnancy and may reduce the risk of some birth defects and diseases.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which your body transforms into vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for the growth and differentiation of cells in your growing fetus. Furthermore, sweet potatoes contain fiber, which may increase fullness, reduce blood sugar spikes and improve digestive health and mobility.
BROCCOLI & DARK, LEAFY GREENS
Broccoli and dark, green vegetables, such as kale and spinach, contain many of the nutrients pregnant women need. These include fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, iron, folate and potassium. Furthermore, broccoli and leafy greens are rich in antioxidants and contain plant compounds that benefit the immune system and digestion. Due to their high fiber content, these vegetables may also help prevent constipation, which is a very common problem among pregnant women.
Avocados contain high amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids, fiber, folate, copper, vitamin E and vitamin C. The healthy fats help build the skin, brain and tissues of your fetus, and folate may help prevent neural tube defects. Because they are high in potassium (having more than a banana), they may relieve leg cramps that are common in pregnant women.
Whole grains are packed with fiber, vitamins and plant compounds. They’re also rich in B vitamins, fiber and magnesium — all of which pregnant women need. Eating whole grains can help pregnant women meet their increased calorie requirements, especially during the second and third trimesters.
Pregnant women are generally advised to limit their seafood intake to twice a week, due to the mercury and other contaminants found in fatty fish. This has caused some women to avoid seafood altogether, thus limiting their intake of essential omega-3 fatty acids. However, studies have shown that pregnant women who eat 2–3 meals of fatty fish per week achieve the recommended intake of omega-3 and increase their blood levels of EPA and DHA.
Salmon contains the essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are important for brain and eye development in your growing baby. What’s more, salmon is one of the very few natural sources of vitamin D, which is often lacking in the diet. It’s very important for many processes in your body, including bone health and immune function.
Lean meat is a good source of high-quality protein. Beef and pork are also rich in iron, choline and B vitamins, all of which are important nutrients and needed in higher amounts during pregnancy. Iron is an essential mineral that is used by red blood cells as a part of hemoglobin. It’s important for delivering oxygen to all cells in your body. Pregnant women need more iron since their blood volume is increasing. Low levels of iron during early and mid-pregnancy may cause iron deficiency anemia, which doubles the risk of premature delivery and low birth weight.
Eggs are the ultimate health food, as they contain a little bit of almost every nutrient you need. A large egg contains 77 calories, as well as high-quality protein and fat. It also packs many vitamins and minerals. Whole eggs are incredibly nutritious and a great way to increase your overall nutrient intake. They also contain choline, an essential nutrient for brain health and development. Low choline intake during pregnancy may increase the risk of neural tube defects and possibly lead to decreased brain function in the fetus.
Berries contain water, carbs, fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and plant compounds. They generally contain high amounts of vitamin C, which helps your body absorb iron. Vitamin C is also important for skin health and immune function. Berries have a relatively low glycemic index value, so they should not cause major spikes in blood sugar. They may help pregnant women increase their water intake.
Dried fruit may be highly beneficial for pregnant women since they are small and nutrient-dense. Dried fruit is generally high in calories, fiber and various vitamins and minerals. Just make sure to limit your portions and avoid candied varieties, to prevent excess sugar intake.
What you eat during pregnancy affects your energy and well-being. It may also directly affect the health and development of your baby. Since calorie and nutrient needs are increased, it’s very important that you choose nutrient-dense, healthy foods.