When you are pregnant, it can be a very exciting time. As another human being grows, your body needs many additional nutrients, vitamins and minerals. This is why it is ideal for women to include specific foods in their diet during pregnancy. In fact, it is not uncommon for women to need between 350 and 500 extra calories per day during the second and third trimester. If your diet lacks key nutrients, your body will likely feel the difference. Here are 10 nutritious foods for pregnant women:
1. Greek yogurt
During pregnancy, it is important to get extra protein and calcium to meet the demands of the growing fetus. Dairy products are great because they contain two types of high-quality protein: casein and whey. Dairy products are also the best source of calcium, high amounts of phosphorous, several B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc. Yogurt, particularly Greek yogurt, contains more protein and calcium than most other dairy products. Some varieties also contain probiotic bacteria, which help maintain digestive health. Even those who are lactose intolerant can tolerate yogurt, especially probiotic yogurt.
This food group 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 are needed by your body during pregnancy. Folate, or vitamin B9, is very important in maintaining the health of the mother and fetus during the first trimester. A lack of folate has been linked to an increased risk of neural tube defects and low birth weight. Fortunately, legumes contain high amounts of folic acid. They are also generally high in fiber, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
3. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are very rich in beta-carotene, one of the best foods for pregnant women. It is a plant compound that our bodies convert to vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for healthy fetal development and pregnant women are often advised to increase their intake of vitamin A by 10-40%. However, it’s best to avoid animal-based sources of vitamin A, which can cause toxicity when consumed in excessive amounts. That is why beta-carotene is a very important source of vitamin A for pregnant women. Sweet potatoes are also packed with fiber, which can help reduce blood sugar spikes and improve mobility and digestive health.
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most crucial foods for pregnant women. Particularly DHA, which plays an important role in the development of the fetal brain and eyes. But studies have shown that pregnant women who eat 2 to 3 fatty fish meals a week achieve the recommended omega-3 intake. Salmon is one of the few food sources of vitamin D, which is often lacking in our diets and is necessary for bone health and healthy immune function.
Eggs contain a little of many different nutrients like high-quality protein and fat. Eggs are also a great source of choline, which is essential for healthy brain function and fetal brain development. Low choline intake during pregnancy may increase the risk of neural tube defects in the fetus.
6. Broccoli and Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Broccoli and dark green vegetables like kale and spinach contain many of the nutrients pregnant women need, including vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, iron, folic acid, and potassium. They are also high in fiber, so they can help prevent constipation, which can be a common problem for pregnant women.
Not only do they satisfy a sweet tooth, berries are rich in water, healthy carbohydrates, vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. Vitamin C is not only important for skin health and immune function, but it also helps your body absorb iron, which you need a lot of during pregnancy as your blood volume increases. Berries have a fairly low glycemic index, which means they don’t cause a major spike in blood sugar.
8. Whole Grains
Whole grains can help pregnant women meet their increased calorie needs during the second and third trimesters. Unlike refined grains, whole grains are packed with fiber, B vitamins, and healthy plant compounds. Oatmeal andm quinoa are also great sources of protein.
Avocados are rich in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, it is one of the most recommended foods for pregnant women. They are also high in fiber, B vitamins (especially folate), vitamin K, potassium, copper, vitamin E, and vitamin C. Healthy fats not only help strengthen your fetus’s skin, brain, and tissues, they help prevent neural tube defects. Additionally, potassium helps relieve leg cramps; and avocados contain more potassium than bananas.
10. Dried fruit
Dried fruit is generally high in calories, but it is also high in fiber and various vitamins and minerals. A piece of dried fruit has the same amount of nutrients as fresh fruit, just without the water. A serving of nuts can provide a mlarge percentage of vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid, iron, and potassium. Prunes are rich in fiber, potassium, vitamin K, and sorbitol. They are also natural laxatives. Dates are also rich in fiber, potassium, and iron