What are the best foods to eat when pregnant?
It is extremely important to take care of your baby, even before he or she is born. This means that you need to pay special attention to the food that you consume. Eating a nutritious diet during pregnancy is linked to good brain development and healthy birth weight, and can reduce the risk of many birth defects. A balanced diet will also reduce the risks of anemia, as well as other unpleasant pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue and morning sickness.
In other words, you need to minimize the consumption of junk food and you should include more healthy foods.
When building your healthy eating plan, you’ll want to focus on whole foods that give you higher amounts of the good stuff, including protein, vitamins and minerals, healthy type of fat, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and fluids.
Here are 10 of the best foods to eat while pregnant. Consuming these healthy foods as a part of your pregnancy diet on a daily basis can provide all the nutrients that your body needs during pregnancy.
Best Foods to Eat While Pregnant
Legumes are nutritional powerhouses. They include peanuts, soybeans, chickpeas, beans, peas, and lentils. They can be considered as one of the best plant-based sources available for you to get calcium, folate, iron, protein, and fiber – these are actually what your body needs more of during pregnancy.
As a good source of protein, legumes fall into the same category as meat when it comes to meal planning, but they don’t contain cholesterol and are generally lower in fat. As a great source of fiber, legumes can help prevent constipation and hemorrhoids, which are common problems during pregnancy.
Moreover, you should know that iron is very important for pregnant women. Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues. During pregnancy, you need to double the amount of iron that nonpregnant women need. Your body needs this iron to make more blood to supply oxygen to your baby.
Folate and folic acid are important for pregnancy since they can help prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. Folate is a B group vitamin needed for healthy growth and development. Pregnant women often advised to take folic acid and iron supplements in order to prevent anemia.
And Calcium is important during pregnancy since it helps strengthen your baby’s rapidly-developing bones and teeth, and boosts muscles, heart, and nerve development as well.
2. Whole Grains
Whole grains are packed with nutrients including protein, fiber, antioxidants, trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium), and B vitamins (including B1, B2, folic acid, and niacin) your growing baby needs for just about every part of his body. Grains provide essential carbohydrates, your body’s main source of energy.
It is recommended that you make at least half the grains you eat each day whole grains. You can get most of your day’s grains with a bowl of fortified cereal for breakfast, a lunchtime sandwich made with two slices of whole-wheat bread, and whole-wheat pasta for dinner. To optimize pregnancy nutrition, trade sugary cereals and white bread for whole-grain cereals, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and whole-grain bread.
3. Dairy Products
All pregnant women are strongly encouraged to increase their consumption of calcium and protein throughout pregnancy. That’s where dairy products can help you with. The calcium in dairy products and calcium-fortified soy milk helps build your baby’s bones and teeth. When you increase the consumption of dairy products, you don’t have to worry too much about the intake of calcium and protein. For example, yogurt can provide amazing benefits to pregnant women, while providing additional assistance to their digestive health as well.
Broccoli and other green vegetables provide a great number of benefits for you and your baby during pregnancy. Broccoli that is also known as one of the best foods to eat while pregnant, is a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, potassium, folate, and iron. As mentioned above, these are some of the most prominent nutrients that you will be able to get into your body when adding broccoli to your daily pregnancy diet.
Moreover, broccoli is one of the richest sources of antioxidants that may prevent neural tube defects occur very early in pregnancy, and it may help prevent birth defects tied to alcohol.
5. Lean Meat
Lean beef, turkey, pork, and chicken are excellent sources of high-quality protein. Beef, pork, and turkey are also rich in iron and B vitamins, which makes them also one of the best foods to eat while pregnant. You can enjoy lean steaks like a sirloin cut and add lean ground beef to pasta, tacos, and many other dishes. Make sure to avoid raw or undercooked meats.
You should know that vitamin C has been shown to enhance iron absorption. It captures non-heme iron and stores it in a form that’s more easily absorbed by your body. Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, bell peppers, melons, and strawberries.
6. Fatty Fish – Salmon
Salmon has been identified as one of the richest sources that can deliver omega 3 fatty acids into your body. Adequate consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is vitally important during pregnancy as they are critical building blocks of fetal brain and retina. Omega-3 fatty acids may also play a role in determining the length of gestation and in preventing perinatal depression.
You can serve salmon fillet for diner or make a salmon salad for lunch. There are also omega-3 supplements available for pregnant women. It’s often advised to take omega-3 supplements each day starting from around 12 weeks of pregnancy onwards.
Eggs are the ultimate healthy food that pregnant women can consume. Eggs are versatile and a good source of protein that provides amino acids you and your baby need. They contain more than a dozen vitamins and minerals, including choline, which is good for a baby’s brain development. They also contain unique antioxidants and powerful brain nutrients that many people are deficient in.
When you’re craving eggs, go ahead and enjoy them. You can hard-boil them, fry them, or scramble them — the key is making sure they’re cooked thoroughly. Taking this step can reduce the risk of a foodborne illness, which is the last thing you want to deal with when pregnant.
8. Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale are also essential to be consumed when you are pregnant.
Spinach is bursting with folate, which makes it one of the best foods to eat while pregnant. Folate is a B vitamin that is imperative to healthy infant development. It helps prevent serious defects of the spine and brain. Don’t rely solely on your prenatal vitamins for your folate intake.
Dark leafy greens are identified as one of the richest sources of antioxidants as well. Therefore, you will be able to receive additional assistance with your digestion and immune system. Due to this reason, you are strongly encouraged to include dark leafy greens in your pregnancy diet.
Oatmeal is one of the best foods to eat while pregnant that you can include in your breakfast and desserts. Getting the recommended 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day can help you feel fuller longer and keep uncomfortable pregnancy constipation at bay. And good news: A cup of cooked oatmeal serves more than 4 grams. By adding oats to your pregnancy diet you will be able to maintain a healthy weight gain during your pregnancy. Here is a delicious lactation brownies recipe that includes oats, that you can save for later to boost your milk supply.
Nuts are packed with a great number of nutrients, such as polyunsaturated fatty acids and other healthy nutrients (fibers, vitamin E, plant sterols, and L-arginine) that help reduce the risk of many diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, and oxidative stress. Eating nuts during early pregnancy can improve a child’s neuropsychological development. It has been found that children whose mothers eat 2-3 ounces of nuts per week, during the first trimester of pregnancy, have better IQ, memory, and attention/concentration.
Nuts are also rich in folic acids and fatty acids, such as omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which are crucial for neural development. Whether it is almond, cashew, pistachios, or walnuts, they are all loaded with nutrients and are very recommended during pregnancy.
Have you announced your pregnancy yet?
If not, here are a few creative ideas for pregnancy announcement: