Foods are very important in pregnancy, as these supplement your unborn child with essential vitamins and minerals for its proper growth and development. Lack of nutrients, on the other hand, might lead to negative effect especially to the baby’s development.
Following a healthy diet is a must in order to meet the nutrients required for the baby and mommy. Thus, it can prevent risks of pregnancy like gestational diabetes, eclampsia, or other birth complications.
Listed down are the recommended foods to eat for pregnant women:
1. Dairy Products
Dairy is the best source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, several B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc.
Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, is one of the dairy products which also contains probiotic bacteria that support digestive health.
Eggs are packed with a little bit of almost every nutrient you need, an ultimate health food they say.
These are a great source of choline which is important for brain health and development. It also contains high-quality protein and fat, plus various vitamins and minerals.
3. Dried Fruits
Dried fruits are commonly rich in calories, fiber and various vitamins and minerals, including folate, iron, and potassium. Eating a piece of dried fruit will give you the same amount of nutrients as the fresh ones; only smaller in size and without its natural juice.
Dried Prunes are rich in fiber, potassium, and vitamin K. These are natural laxatives which can be helpful in relieving constipation.
Dried dates are rich in fiber, potassium, and iron. During the third trimester, regular date intake may support cervical dilation thus, lessen the need to induce labor.
Other good dried fruits include apricots, cherries, and cranberries that help to prevent urinary tract infections.
Nevertheless, dried fruits also hold high amounts of natural sugar. So, be sure to lessen the intake and avoid the candied varieties.
4. Lean meat and fish
Meat, poultry, and fish contain high-quality protein, B vitamins, and iron. Beef and pork are also rich in choline.
Iron is an essential mineral needed to make more blood for the baby and mother and helps deliver oxygen in the body. As the baby grows during pregnancy, the blood volume also increases, thus the need for iron doubles in order to make extra blood and good oxygen supply for both mother and baby.
To increase absorption of iron, consume foods high in Vitamin C like bell peppers and oranges.
Salmon is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids – needed for brain and eye development of the growing fetus. This fatty acid can be found in high amounts of seafood.
On one note, it is advisable for pregnant women to lessen the seafood consumption to twice a week as it contains mercury and other chemicals found in fatty fish.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Are loaded with fiber and beta-carotene, an antioxidant which converts into vitamin A in your body.
Vitamin A is needed for fetal growth and development, building the immune system and for healthy skin and eyes.
Meanwhile, animal-based sources of vitamin A may cause toxicity when eaten in large amount.
6. Broccoli and dark green vegetables
Broccoli and green vegetables, like spinach, have various nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, iron, folate and potassium. They’re also rich in disease-fighting antioxidants.
It is said that eating green vegetables reduces the risk of low birth weight.
7. Whole Grains
Whole grains include oats, quinoa, whole wheat, and corn that contain nutrients like protein, vitamins (especially B vitamins), magnesium and fiber (helps prevent constipation and hemorrhoids).
Consuming whole grains especially on second and third trimesters may help provide for the increased calorie needs of pregnant women and may help lower the cholesterol levels.
These include lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, soybeans, and peanuts. They are good plant-based sources of iron, protein, fiber, calcium, and have high amount of folate (B9).
Folate is essential for both mother and the growing fetus, especially on the first trimester. It can help prevent birth defects on the baby’s brain and spinal cord.
Low folate intake can increase the risk of neural tube defects and low birth weight. It can also lead the baby to more likely be prone to infections and disease later in life.
In addition, some varieties of legumes are also rich in magnesium and potassium.
Avocados contain a lot of monounsaturated fatty acids – “healthy fats” that are usually found in olive oil, and some nuts. They’re also rich in fiber, B vitamins (folate), vitamin K, potassium, copper, vitamin E, and vitamin C.
Building the brain, skin, and tissues of the fetus are some benefits of healthy fats. Due to avocado’s high amount of healthy fats, folate, and potassium, they are the best choice for pregnant women.
Avocados contain more potassium than bananas which helps in relieving leg cramps common for some pregnant women.
As the fetus grows, it usually gets everything it needs from its mother. This means that blood volume requirement increases and that you can be dehydrated if you will not be careful with your fluid intake.
Adequate hydration is very important in order to prevent constipation and urinary tract infections which are common during pregnancy. The recommended water intake for pregnant women is about 2 liters per day.
Foods are packed with nutrients that nourish the body. The well-being of a person depends on what food they are eating. The right choice of food is important because it will either supplement the required nutrients or lead to negative effects on both the baby and the mother.
“Your food, your choice!”