When you’re pregnant (or hope to be), you know that eating healthy is “job one,” but where do you begin? When you don’t feel like eating much—or when you want to eat everything—how can you make the most of your diet?
Below is a list of superfoods for pregnancy to get you started. It’s a condensed version of a broader list in my book Eating Expectantly, which covers everything from preparing for pregnancy to dealing with morning sickness, heartburn, and gaining the correct amount of weight.
Calcium is necessary for the development of your baby’s bones and teeth, as well as the maintenance of your own bones. But did you know it also aids with blood pressure control? While all dairy products contain calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which are beneficial to bones and blood pressure, yoghurt and other fermented dairy products such as kefir and acidophilus milk provide an additional advantage. They contain probiotics (good bacteria) that can assist with heartburn, gas, and constipation by keeping your digestive tract working more efficiently. It can also aid in the prevention of diarrhoea. Probiotics have also been shown to lessen the risk of preeclampsia in studies.
Beans are not only inexpensive, but they are also high in nutrients. All beans are high in fibre, folic acid, iron, and protein, with lentils providing more than half of your fibre and over a third of your iron needs in just one cup. Lentils cook faster and don’t require pre-soaking, making them ideal for a quick supper.
I kept a snack stash in my work drawer when I was pregnant, and peanut butter was the star of the show. Peanut butter is a cheap and portable source of protein. Its protein and healthy fat content make it ideal for snacking and balancing meals. Biotin, copper, manganese, and folate are all abundant in peanuts. It’s very simple to take a spoonful with crackers, an apple, or a banana.
Antioxidants are essential during pregnancy, and all berries provide plenty. Proanthocyanidins, an antioxidant found in blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries, can aid in the fight against inflammation, which is linked to miscarriages and preeclampsia. Cranberries include a form of proanthocyanidin that may aid in the prevention of urinary tract infections. Berries are abundant in fibre, with raspberries topping the list at 10 grammes per cup. Fruit may be the new brain food: studies show that consuming six servings of fruit a day while pregnant will help your baby be smarter at one year.
Greens: kale & spinach
For good reason, Mom always told us to eat our vegetables. Lutein, a carotenoid vital for embryonic eye development, is a nutrient found in greens that you may not be aware of. Lutein and zeathanthin, its chemical relative, are deposited in the retina and protect it from light damage. The most lutein-rich foods are kale, spinach, and collard greens. Greens are also high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, fibre, and other antioxidants that are beneficial during pregnancy.
The green globe of tasty goodness is high in potassium, vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, and fibre. Avocado is high in monounsaturated fat, which is good for cholesterol and reduces oxidative stress in the body. Avocados are high in lutein, as well as other carotenoids.
Yes, fish is brain food, and if you only have time to consume one fish while pregnant, choose salmon. Salmon is strong in omega-3 fats, which are essential for a baby’s brain and vision development. Pregnant women should ingest roughly 300 mg of DHA each day. Eat roughly 8 ounces of salmon twice a week if you want to get it through food.
Lean beef is a good provider of more than ten nutrients, making it a top protein source. Iron, zinc, choline, and selenium are especially vital during pregnancy. Beef is a flexible meat that can be used in a variety of ways, from crockpot chilli to tacos and salads grilled on the grill. Beef also makes excellent leftovers.
You may not feel like eating for a variety of reasons, including nausea, heartburn, or a lack of appetite. Yes, eggs are a comfort meal, but they can also fill up many nutritional gaps in a pregnant woman’s diet. Eggs are a fantastic source of protein, and they also include choline, a nutrient that aids in the development of your baby’s memory centre. Most women don’t receive enough choline, according to research, which may be linked to a higher risk of neural tube problems.
Flax and chia seeds are examples of great things in small packages. With just a few teaspoons, you can get plenty of fibre and omega-3 fats. Other antioxidants can be found in both seeds.
Vitamin E is a nutrient that most of us don’t receive enough of. One ounce of sunflower seed kernels provides more than half of your daily vitamin E needs. Sunflower seeds are also high in antioxidant minerals such as magnesium, selenium, and copper.
The only grain that supplies a full supply of protein is this nutty kernel, which is termed an ancient grain since it was supposedly eaten thousands of years ago in the Andes of South America. It contains some of the same flavonols found in berries, making it beneficial in the battle against inflammation. Quinoa does not contain gluten.