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Vital Foods to Eat When Pregnant

Posted on 20/06/2012 in Pregnancy & Baby & Well-Being

Expectant mothers generally have a lot on their minds -- aside from preparing a nursery, choosing a pram and car seat and negotiating the world of
maternity dresses and breastfeeding tops, pregnant women also need to think carefully about their diet and know which foods to avoid, as well as those to consume in plentiful quantities.

While pregnant women should steer clear of some foods in order to protect and best ensure their own health and wellbeing and that of their baby, there are many foods that should be eaten to provide the nutrients that are needed by both mother and child.

Eggs:  Eggs are a great inclusion in a pregnancy diet because each egg contains more than 12 vitamins and minerals, significant amounts of quality protein and contains only 90 calories. Importantly, eggs are abundant in choline, which is important for a baby’s overall health and brain development and can help to prevent neural tube defects.

A further benefit of eggs is that they are inexpensive, versatile and easy to prepare.

Salmon:  Salmon is full of high-quality protein and is a wonderful source of omega-3 fats. Salmon is also a fish that has low amounts of methylmercury, which can be harmful to a growing baby’s nervous system. Expectant mothers should carefully check guidelines in their state or country in order to understand how many portions of salmon and other low-mercury fish are recommended per week.

Beans:  With so many varieties of beans available and so many versatile ways in which they can be eaten and used in recipes, beans are a wonderful food to eat while pregnant. High in fibre and protein, beans contain many health benefits for mothers and babies.

Foods that contain fibre are often nutrient-rich and beans are an especially good source of calcium, zinc, folate and iron.

Sweet potatoes:  Carotenoids provide sweet potatoes with their orange colour and it is these plant pigments that become vitamin A in the human body. As well as vitamin A, sweet potatoes provide vitamin C, folate and fibre, all of which are needed by pregnant women and are beneficial to the babies they carry.

Popcorn and whole grains:  Whole grains are high in fibre and nutrients (such as vitamin E, selenium and phytonutrients) and because of these attributes, whole grains are very important in a pregnancy diet. As well as popcorn, whole grains can and should be consumed, including the superfood quinoa, oatmeal, barley and whole grain bread.  

Walnuts:  Walnuts are yet another excellent source of omega 3s, which are incredibly important for a baby’s brain growth and development. Walnuts also make a perfect snack that can be eaten when on the go and enhance many dishes, including salads.

Greek yoghurt:  A number of people understand the health benefits of natural yoghurt, but because Greek yoghurt contains twice the protein of regular yoghurt, it is a highly recommended, and in fact vital, pregnancy food. Calcium is essential in a pregnancy diet and yoghurt is a wonderful and quite ‘easy’ source of calcium.

Dark green, leafy vegetables:  Vegetables such as spinach and kale abound with nutrients and vitamins (including: vitamins A, C and K) and are especially important for the amounts of folate that they contain. Folate is vital in a pregnancy diet and has health benefits (including eye health) for both the baby and mother.

Lean meats:  High quality protein can be sourced from many lean meats. Pregnant women should seek out meat that has the fat trimmed off, and beef and pork are excellent choices because they contain choline as well as protein. Generally speaking, deli meats and hot dogs are best avoided (because of the risk of passing on salmonella) unless they are served at a steaming hot temperature.

Colourful fruits and vegetables:  Pregnant women are advised to eat different varieties and different coloured fruits and vegetables in plentiful amounts. Fruits and vegetables provide mother and baby with a great range of nutrients and different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can be found in different types of vegetables -- whether they’re green, red, orange, yellow, purple or white in colour.

It is also important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables because in the later stages of pregnancy the baby tastes the foods that are eaten by the mother through the amniotic fluid. By exposing a baby to a range of healthy fruits and vegetables while in utero, it is believed that they will better recognise and accept the same tastes when they are eating solid food.


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