Now that you’re expecting, it’s more important than ever to eat right. So what tops our list of eat-smart tips for expectant mamas? Read on to find out what to eat while pregnant.
1. Eggs:In addition to more than 12 vitamins and minerals, eggs contain lots of quality protein, which is essential for pregnancy. Baby’s cells are growing at an exponential rate, and every cell is made of protein, plus, a pregnant woman has her own protein needs.Eggs are also rich in choline, which promotes your baby’s overall growth and brain health, while helping prevent neural tube defects. Some even contain omega-3 fats, important for both brain and vision development. (Brands that have omega-3 fats will probably state so on the label.)As for eggs’ bad rap for cholesterol? Not warranted. It turns out that eating saturated fat does much more damage to your cholesterol level than eating the cholesterol naturally found in food. And while eggs are high in cholesterol, they’re also relatively low in saturated fat, with about one and a half grams per egg.Healthy women with normal blood cholesterol can consume one to two eggs a day as part of a balanced diet low in saturated fat.
2. Avocados:Loaded with folic acid (vital to forming your baby’s brain and nervous system), potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 (which not only helps baby’s tissue and brain growth, but may also help with your morning sickness), avocados are a delicious way to get your vitamins. Spread some ripe avocado on your whole grain roll as a healthy substitute for mayo. Keep in mind that avocados are high in fat (though the very good kind) and calories, so heap them on your plate only if you’re having trouble gaining weight.
3. Carrots:Carrots are tops when it comes to vitamin A, so important for the development of your baby’s bones, teeth, and eyes. They’re perfect for munching on the go, but they also shred neatly into almost anything (from salads to meatloaf to cakes to muffins). Carrots are also a good source of vitamins B6 and C, and fiber to keep things moving.
4. Salmon:Omega-3 fatty acids are good for your baby’s brain and eyes, and salmon is a great source. Plus it provides protein and B vitamins. Salmon is also relatively low in mercury compared to other fish. Try it grilled, broiled, or on a salad. You can safely eat up to 12 ounces of low-mercury fish, such as salmon, per week.
5. Legumes:Legumes are high in folic acid (folate), which is vital to the development of the baby’s neural tube. The neural tube forms during the first month of pregnancy and later develops into the baby’s brain and spinal cord. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a daily consumption of at least .4 milligrams of folic acid (a B vitamin) to decreases the risk of neural tube defects, such a spina bifida.Legumes are also filled with a high content of iron. Iron is necessary to the development of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. Without enough oxygen, the body’s organs and tissues cannot operate well. Iron also helps fight pregnancy symptoms of tiredness, irritability, and depression. During pregnancy, iron is absorbed at a quicker rate so a higher intake is required to ensure both mother and baby get the adequate amount. The recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron during pregnancy is 27mg per day.Another added benefit of legumes is they are loaded with fiber. This helps combat the discomfort of constipation, a common problem among pregnant women.
6. Sweet Potatoes:Although sweet potatoes would be a nutritious addition to anyone’s diet, pregnant women might find them particularly beneficial. Sweet potatoes naturally contain several of the nutrients women need during pregnancy, including protein, fiber, folate, vitamin A and vitamin C. Sweet potatoes also are low in calories and fat and do not contain any cholesterol.When you are pregnant, you require about 75 to 100 g of protein, which helps your unborn baby grow properly and plays a role in increasing your blood supply. You also need to get more vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, vitamin B-12, copper, magnesium, manganese and zinc than women who are not pregnant. Iron intake should increase from 18 g to 27 g a day during pregnancy. Although higher iron consumption could lead to constipation, getting at least 25 g to 30 g of fiber each day should help prevent this. Sweet potatoes are a good source of almost all of these nutrients.
7. Walnuts:Naturopathic physician Heather Manley points out that walnuts resemble little brains, so it just makes sense that they’re good for your mind. And the science backs it up; walnuts boost memory because they’re rich in antioxidants as well as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. An added benefit is that walnuts boost the body’s melatonin levels, which can help cure the restless nights that pregnant women often endure.
8. Lean Meats:Women need extra iron when they’re pregnant, and the best natural source is red meat. Iron carries oxygen to your brain and to your baby’s brain; furthermore, there’s a link between low iron and poor brain function in babies, so it’s essential to consume a healthy amount of the vitamin during pregnancy. If you’re a red meat lover, the leanest cuts of beef include round and sirloin. Bison meat is an even leaner option and has considerably more iron than beef.
9. Figs:There’s a whopping 5 grams of fiber in just 1 cup of dried figs. Plus, figs are a great nondairy source of calcium; one serving contains about a quarter of your daily needs (1,000 milligrams). And while your teeth may not appreciate the high sugar content, they will benefit from the potassium, phosphorus and magnesium in figs. These tooth-supporting nutrients aren’t just great for your own mouth; they are essential to the 32 teeth forming below the gums in your growing baby’s mouth.Figs are also a good source of iron. Iron deficiency can cause anemia, especially during pregnancy, thanks to the increase in your blood volume and growing demands by the baby for iron to produce millions of red blood cells. Stewed figs contain about 3 milligrams of iron (about 10 percent of your daily recommended intake) in 1 cup. The same number of figs will also provide your body with 23 micrograms of vitamin K, which is needed for proper blood clotting and bone formation.
10. Basil:Basil is a pregnancy superfood. This fresh herb is a good source of protein, vitamin E, riboflavin, and niacin; plus, it’s a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese.
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