What are some of the best foods to eat while pregnant?
Good questions ladies, and one we've been asked a fair bit.
We all know eating a healthy diet is important throughout your life, but when you're pregnant and you’re supporting the growth of a beautiful mini human, what you eat is even more important.
Thankfully, it's not as complicated as it seems to decide what to eat when pregnant; the basic idea is to eat a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods, focusing on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Having said that, it’s often easier said than done - especially when morning sickness makes certain food groups seem impossible to eat! A prenatal vitamin supplement is generally highly recommended and helps you make sure that you’re getting plenty of the required vitamins and minerals. That said, there are a few foods packed full of the nutrients needed while you're pregnant. Consuming these nutritious foods during pregnancy helps you and your baby stay strong and healthy throughout your pregnancy and beyond.
Protein provides the building blocks for the cells in both your and your baby's bodies. Foods high in protein also help to stabilise your blood sugar levels, helping to keep your hunger under control. Lean meat is a great protein source during pregnancy because it's also high in iron, something both you and your baby need plenty of, to develop red blood cells. In addition, lean beef and pork are high in vitamin B6, which aids the baby's brain and tissue growth. They are also high in vitamin B12, which helps to maintain healthy red blood and nerve cells.
Beans and Lentils
These nutritional powerhouses boast loads of protein, iron, folate, fibre, and calcium. They're a great way for vegetarian mothers to get enough protein, and are an excellent food to eat while pregnant. Folate is a B vitamin that is vital during pregnancy because it helps your baby's brain and nervous system develop. Beans also contain high amounts of zinc; this essential mineral is linked to a lower risk for prolonged labor, low birth rate, and preterm delivery.
Another excellent source of protein, eggs also provide iron, folate, and choline. Eat the whole egg to reap the most benefit from the variety of vitamins and minerals contained inside, but avoid consuming raw or undercooked eggs. Choline is found in egg yolks and plays an important role in foetal brain development; it also reduces the likelihood of neural tube defects.
Both you and your baby need plenty of calcium for healthy bones. If you don't consume enough calcium while pregnant, your body will take calcium away from your body’s own calcium supplies, like your bones, to supply enough to your baby, which puts you at higher risk for developing osteoporosis. Plain yoghurt contains more calcium than milk, plus it's high in protein and folate, making it an ideal food to eat during pregnancy. Yoghurt is also a good choice because the active cultures it contains can help prevent yeast infections and stomach upset.
Nuts are a versatile and convenient superfood, loaded with protein, healthy fats, fibre, and a number of vitamins and minerals including magnesium, selenium, copper, manganese, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Magnesium helps your baby's nervous system develop and lowers the risk of premature labor. Not only are they full of nutrients, but nuts are also easy to carry around with you, making them a great snack on the go.
Full of B vitamins, fibre, iron, and a number of other minerals, oats are a brilliant food to eat when pregnant. Whole grains are a great way to help keep your energy levels up, and the fibre helps if you are experiencing constipation, which is more common during pregnancy. The nutrients in oats are also important for your baby's health. Oats are often fortified with B vitamins, iron, and folic acid too.
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for brain and eye development. Salmon is an excellent source of both omega-3 fatty acids and protein, making it one of the top foods for pregnancy. Try to eat two to three servings of salmon every week. Salmon is low in mercury, so it's considered safe to eat during pregnancy.
Spinach, kale, asparagus, broccoli, and other dark, leafy greens are packed with antioxidants and nutrients. One of the many important nutrients they contain is vitamin A, which aids in your baby's bone and skin growth.
Avocados are full of nutrients important during pregnancy, including potassium, folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. They are also high in healthy fats and fibre, which can help you feel full for longer.
Sweet potatoes and packed with iron, fibre, vitamin B6, potassium, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and copper. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that your body converts to vitamin A, and it is also found in high amounts in carrots and red peppers. The combination of iron and copper in sweet potatoes is particularly beneficial because copper helps your body absorb iron.
Eating a healthy diet while pregnant can seem overwhelming, but consuming a variety of foods is key. Including these nutritious foods in your diet helps you get plenty of the nutrients both you and your baby need.
It’s recommended to visit your doctor throughout your pregnancy, for them to keep an eye on your nutrient blood levels and suggest additional supplements, should a deficiency occur.