Top 10 Healthy Foods For Pregnant Women
When a woman is pregnant, she needs additional nutrients. Her per day calorie requirement increases by an extra 350-500 calories during the second and third trimesters.
Healthy Foods For Pregnant Women
A diet lacking in essential nutrients affects the development of the baby. Poor eating habits and too much of weight gain can increase the chances of gestational diabetes or other complications. Choosing healthy and nutritious foods ensures the health of the mother and the baby. Losing weight after the delivery will also be easy.
1) Dairy products
During pregnancy you require extra calcium and protein to meet the requirements of the foetus growing inside.
Dairy has high quality protein in it and is the best source of calcium. It also provides lots of phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and B-vitamins. For pregnant women, yoghurt is most beneficial as it has more calcium in comparison with other dairy products. It also has healthy bacteria that support digestive health. Consuming probiotic food like yoghurt during pregnancy reduces the risk of complications.
Legumes include lentils, beans, peas, soybeans, chickpeas and peanuts. They all are a great plant based source of fibre, iron, protein, vitamin B9 (folate) as well as calcium. The body needs all of them during pregnancy. One of the B-vitamins, folate is essential for the health of the mother and the unborn baby, especially in the first trimester. When women don’t consume enough folate, the baby has an increased risk of low birth weight and neural tube defects. There are also chances of diseases later in life.
3) Sweet potato
Sweet potato is a rich source of beta-carotene that gets converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is vital for the development of a healthy foetus. Pregnant women are asked to increase their vitamin A intake by 10 to 40%. However, it is also said that they avoid high amounts of animal based vitamin A sources that may cause toxicity when consumed in excess.
Consuming about 100 to 150 g of cooked sweet potatoes fulfill the daily need of beta-carotene. Sweet potatoes also have fibre , which increase a sense of satiety, reduce blood sugar spikes and improves digestive health.
The fish salmon is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. DHA and EPA are the omega 3 fatty acids that help in building the brain and eyes of the baby. Expecting women are asked to limit their intake to less than 340 g per week because of mercury and other contaminants in fatty fish. Salmon fish is also a natural source of vitamin D.
Eggs have almost all the nutrients you need. One large egg has about 77 calories, high quality protein and fat along with several vitamins and minerals. Eggs have choline, which is essential for brain development as well as health. Low choline intake during pregnancy increases the risk of defects.
6) Leafy greens and broccoli
Spinach and broccoli have a lot of nutrients required by a pregnant woman, which include fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, folate, iron and potassium. The fibre content in leafy greens prevents constipation which is common in expecting mothers. The veggies are also rich in antioxidants.
When pregnant women consume leafy greens that risk of low birth weight in the baby is reduced.
7) Lean meat
Meat such as beef, chicken and pork are great sources of high quality protein. Beef and fork are rich in B vitamins, choline and iron, which are needed more during pregnancy. Pregnant women need more iron. Low levels of iron can cause iron deficiency that increases the risk of a premature baby and low birth weight.
Berries are packed with plant compounds, fibre, healthy carbs, vitamin C and water. With a low GI they don’t cause a major spike in the blood sugar. They are a great low calorie snack.
9) Whole grains
Eating whole grains fulfills the increased calorie requirements that are needed in pregnancy. Whole grains have fibre, vitamins and plant compounds. Oats and quinoa also have protein which is essential during pregnancy. Whole grains also have B vitamins, fibre and magnesium.
Rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, avocados are amazing fruits. They also have fibre, folate, vitamin K, potassium, copper, vitamin C and vitamin E. This makes them a healthy choice for pregnant women.
The bottom line
What consumed during pregnancy affects the health of both the mother and the developing baby. A pregnant woman should choose nutrient dense and healthy food.
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