5 Best Food for Pregnancy
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 2nd and 3rd trimesters
A diet that lacks key nutrients may negatively affect the baby’s development
Poor eating habits and excess weight gain may also increase the 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.
Here are 5 highly nutritious foods to eat when you’re pregnant.
1. Dairy products
During pregnancy, you need to consume extra protein and calcium to meet the needs of the growing fetus
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, is particularly beneficial for pregnant women .
It contains more calcium than any other dairy product. Some varieties also contain probiotic bacteria, which support digestive health .
People who are lactose intolerant may also be able to tolerate yogurt, especially probiotic yogurt .
Taking probiotic supplements during pregnancy may reduce the risk of complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, vaginal infections and allergies .
This group of food includes lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, soybeans and peanuts.
Legumes are excellent plant-based sources of fiber, protein, iron, folate (B9) and calcium, all of which the body needs more of during pregnancy.
Folate is one of the B-vitamins (B9). It is very important for the health of the mother and fetus, especially during the first trimester.
However, most pregnant women are not consuming nearly enough folate .
This has been linked with an increased risk of neural tube defects and low birth weight. Insufficient folate intake may also cause the child to be more prone to infections and disease later in life .
Legumes contain high amounts of folate. One cup of lentils, chickpeas or black beans may provide from 65–90% of the RDA
Furthermore, legumes are generally very high in fiber. Some varieties are also high in iron, magnesium and potassium.
3. Broccoli and dark, leafy greens
Broccoli and dark, green vegetables, such as kale and spinach, contain many of the nutrients that 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. They also contain plant compounds that benefit the immune system and digestion .
Due to their high fiber content, these vegetables may also help prevent constipation. This is a very common problem among pregnant women .
Consuming green, leafy vegetables has also been linked with a reduced risk of low birth weight.
4. Lean meat
Beef, pork and chicken are excellent sources of high-quality protein.
Furthermore, beef and pork are also rich in iron, choline and other B-vitamins — all of which are needed in higher amounts during pregnancy.
Iron is an essential mineral that is used by red blood cells as a part of hemoglobin. It is important for delivering oxygen to all cells in the body.
Pregnant women need more iron, since their blood volume is increasing. This is particularly important during the third trimester.
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 .
It may be hard to cover iron needs with diet alone, especially since many pregnant women develop an aversion to meat .
However, for those who can, eating red meat regularly may help increase the amount of iron acquired from the diet.
Eating foods that are rich in vitamin C, such as oranges or bell peppers, may also help increase absorption of iron from meals.
5. Fish liver oil
Fish liver oil is made from the oily liver of fish, most often cod.
The oil is very rich in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are essential for fetal brain and eye development .
Fish liver oil is also very high in vitamin D, which many people do not get enough of. It may be highly beneficial for those who don’t regularly eat seafood or supplement with omega-3 or vitamin D.
Low vitamin D intake has been linked with an increased risk of preeclampsia. This potentially dangerous complication is characterized by high blood pressure, swelling of the hands and feet, and protein in the urine .
Consuming cod liver oil during early pregnancy has been linked with higher birth weight and a lower risk of disease later in the baby’s life
A single serving (one tablespoon) of fish liver oil provides more than the recommended daily intake of omega-3, vitamin D and vitamin A.
However, it is not recommended to consume more than one serving (one tablespoon) per day, because too much preformed vitamin A can be dangerous for the fetus. High levels of omega-3 may also have blood-thinning effects
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