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Foods to Eat While Pregnant

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Pregnant woman holding her belly.
Beautiful display of a pregnant woman holding her belly in anticipation.

A healthy diet while pregnant is extremely important because it’s a time when your body requires additional vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. You may even need to consume 350 to 500 extra calories daily, especially during your second and third trimesters. Any diet that lacks certain key nutrients could end up negatively affecting your baby’s development. Unhealthy eating habits can lead to excess weight gain, increasing your gestational diabetes risk and complications during both pregnancy and birth. Simply put, when you choose nutritious foods, you’re helping to ensure both your own health and your baby’s. As an added benefit, it can also make losing your pregnancy weight after giving birth much easier. So, that being said, here are seven nutritious foods for healthy eating during pregnancy:

1. Avocados, because they’re high in B vitamins (especially folate), copper, vitamins C and E, fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids, potassium, and vitamin K.

Delicious avocado
Female holding a fresh avocado sliced into two pieces for serving.

2. Berries, which are packed full of antioxidants, vitamin C, fiber, healthy carbs, and water. 

Fresh Berries in the Mix
Juicy tasty berries mixed together for enjoyment.

3. Broccoli and dark green vegetables (like spinach and kale), because they’re full of important nutrients that pregnant women really need, including antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, fiber, folate,  iron, and potassium.

Leafy Green Vegetables
Broccoli and lettuce side by side for slicing.

4. Dairy Products, because you require extra calcium and protein during pregnancy for meeting the needs of your growing fetus.

Bowl of oatmeal, strawberries and milk
Fresh bowl of oatmeal cereal, milk and juicy strawberries for pregnant woman.

5. Eggs, because they’re actually the ultimate health food, containing a small amount of just about every single nutrient that you need during pregnancy. In addition, one large egg has only 77 calories along with high-quality fat and protein along with numerous vitamins and minerals. They’re also an excellent source of choline, which is essential for brain development and overall good health.

Nicely cooked omellete.
Cooked omelette with parsley and small tomatoes.

6. Lean Meats (like beef, chicken, and pork) are superior sources of  high-quality protein. In addition, both pork and beef are rich in B vitamins, choline, and iron needed during pregnancy. Iron is essential for the delivery of oxygen to every single cell in your body.

Slices of cooked steak strips.
Fresh steak cooked then sliced into two pieces and ready to be eaten.

7. Salmon is extremely rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids and the majority of people don’t get enough omega-3s in their diets. 

Vitamins and Minerals Plus Other Nutrients

Your body utilizes them in the foods you eat for helping you with staying strong and healthy. While you’re pregnant, your ever-growing baby is getting all of the nutrients from you that he or she requires. That’s why you may require more of them during pregnancy than ever before. And, in the event that you’re pregnant with twins (or even more), then you could require much more of them than with a single baby.

Although eating healthy and nutritious foods during pregnancy should be providing all the nutrients needed, it can be difficult to get some of them, like iron and folic acid, just from the foods you eat.  Needless to say, taking your prenatal can also assist with getting all of the nutrients that both you and your baby need.

Now, all nutrients are essential, however the following six are key to your little one’s growth and development throughout your pregnancy:

  1. Calcium
  2. DHA
  3. Folic Acid
  4. Iodine 
  5. Iron
  6. Vitamin D

We’re all fairly well acquainted with calcium, folic acid, iron, and vitamin D but perhaps not as much with the other two. So, here’s a little helpful info wbout those two more uncommon nutrients:

What is DHA?

It stands for docosahexaenoic acid and is a type of fat (aka omega-3 fatty acid). It’s responsible for helping with both growth and development. Throughout pregnancy, you require 200 milligrams each day for helping the development of your baby’s eyes and brain. Some (but not all) prenatal vitamins have DHA, so you should ask your doctor if you should take a DHA supplement. In addition, you could eat certain foods that contain DHA and some excellent sources include: 

  • Low mercury fish like anchovies, halibut, herring, salmon, and trout. During pregnancy, you should be eating between 8 and 12 ounces per week.
  • Eggs, milk, and orange juice that contain added DHA (check the package label).

What About Iodine? 

This is a mineral that your body requires for making thyroid hormones. You need it during pregnancy for helping your baby’s nervous system and brain develop. In fact, throughout pregnancy, your body needs 220 micrograms of iodine daily. Again, not all prenatal vitamins will have iodine, so you should eat foods containing iodine and ask your doctor about taking an iodine supplement.

Good sources include the following (check the package label): 

  • Enriched or fortified bread and cereal 
  • Fish
  • Cheese, milk, and yogurt
  • Iodized salt

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