You’re pregnant; so now you can eat anything you’re craving, right? Not quite. During pregnancy, you actually have more of a reason to eat well and nourish your body. After all, you’re forming another entire human being. With a little help from the right foods, though, you can fuel both your body and your baby, promoting a healthy pregnancy. While you should definitely eat with variety, try a few of these nutrient-packed foods to get you started.
You’ve likely heard your doctor warn against eating certain kinds of mercury-laden fish during your pregnancy, but salmon doesn’t fall into that category. In fact, salmon has high levels of omega-3s that most people already don’t get enough of.
In addition, salmon is high in protein as well as vital nutrients like selenium and vitamin D——and it’s all packaged in a nice serving of less than 200 calories! Add this superfood to your pregnancy menu a few times per week to reap the benefits.
2. Leafy greens
Nearly any fresh vegetable is welcome during pregnancy, but especially dark, leafy greens like spinach and broccoli. Not only do these vegetables have many antioxidants and vitamins, but they get high praise for their folate, a nutrient that wards off birth defects in pregnancy. Other nutrients you’ll get from these foods include fiber, iron, potassium and vitamin K.
Whole grains like oats, millet and wheat are a great source of calories and carbohydrates for expectant women. In particular, quinoa provides a superfood of nutrition.
It’s made up of a significant amount of iron, potassium, folate, B vitamins, vitamin E and magnesium. It’s also a rich source of plant protein.
4. Lean meat
Protein is an important nutrient for you to increase during your pregnancy. It is literally the building block of every muscle, organ and tissue in the body, making it vital for a developing baby.
Specifically, lean beef or pork will provide you with essential iron and B-vitamins that you need more of during gestation. Chicken is also a great source of high quality protein in any diet. Aim to eat at least 1-2 high-protein foods at each meal, and you’ll be well on your way to getting what your baby needs.
Adding dairy products into your pregnancy diet will not only boost your protein intake, but it will also give you another source of B vitamins, calcium, potassium and magnesium. On top of those, yogurt contains gut-healthy probiotics, or good bacteria that promote a healthy digestive tract.
Just make sure that you’re not picking up a brand loaded with sugar. Greek yogurt is usually a good option.
Everyone else is eating these sweet, yellow fruits; so why not you? At over 11 pounds per person per year, bananas stand as one of America’s favorite fruits and the most consumed fresh fruit (according to the US Department of Agriculture).
Besides its popularity, though, bananas make a great pick-me-up snack for expectant mothers. They have a significant amount of vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin C, magnesium, and even some protein.
As a bonus for eating them under-ripened, you can even get some resistant starch from them, a type of starch that actually works like a powerful soluble fiber. The bottom line is that you should be eating these throughout your day.
Last, you should regularly add avocadoes to your list of healthy pregnancy foods to eat. This fruit has a great nutrition profile, including healthy fat and protein as well as high amounts of potassium, B vitamins, folate, and vitamins C, E and K.
In addition, the fruit contains healthy antioxidants that get absorbed well by the body because of its high fat content. As if that weren’t enough, avocados have very little sugar in them, making them an ideal fruit for diabetics and sugar-conscious consumers.
What Not to Eat
While you have access to a long list of foods that will benefit your pregnancy, you should steer clear of a few as well. Watch out for:
- Undercooked meat and eggs – These aren’t recommended for anyone, but pregnant women should have extra caution because of the harmful bacteria.
- Deli meats – Deli meats are known for containing listeria, a bacteria that can be extremely harmful to developing babies. If you do eat deli meat, make sure that you heat it up until it’s steaming hot before taking a bite.
- Fish high in mercury – Mercury is a metal that can be toxic if you eat high amounts, especially to a baby. Some types to avoid are shark, swordfish and king mackerel.
- Raw or soft cheeses – Soft cheeses like blue cheese or Brie can also contain the harmful listeria.
- Foods high in vitamin A – Vitamin A is important, but too much can actually be harmful to your baby. Specifically, avoid organ meats and consult your doctor about other foods high in vitamin A, such as sweet potatoes.
While you might be tempted to indulge yourself during pregnancy, think about nourishing your body well for your baby instead. Eating nutrient-packed foods will ensure that you and your baby are getting the proper nutrition for a safe and smooth delivery. In the end, a healthy baby is the goal.