13 Must-eat Foods During Pregnancy to Ensure The Health of You and Your Baby

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Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy is very important. Poor eating habits and excess weight gain may also increase the risk of gestational diabetes and pregnancy or birth complications. Choosing healthy, nutritious foods will help ensure the health of you and your baby.

Here are 13 highly nutritious foods to eat when you’re pregnant.

1. Dairy products

Dairy products contain two types of high quality protein: casein and whey. Dairy is the best dietary source of calcium, and provides high amounts of phosphorus, various B-vitamins, magnesium and zinc.

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Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, is particularly beneficial for pregnant women

It contains more calcium than any other dairy product. Some varieties also contain probiotic bacteria, which support digestive health.

2. Legumes

This group of food 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 the body needs more of during pregnancy.

Folate is one of the B-vitamins (B9). It is very important for the health of the mother and fetus, especially during the first trimester.

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However, most pregnant women are not consuming nearly enough folate

Furthermore, legumes are generally very high in fiber. Some varieties are also high in iron, magnesium and potassium.

3. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are very rich in beta-carotene, a plant compound that is converted into vitamin A in the body.

Vitamin A is essential for growth, as well as for the differentiation of most cells and tissues. It is very important for healthy fetal development

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene. About 100–150 grams (3.5–5.3 oz) of cooked sweet potatoes fulfills the entire RDI

Furthermore, sweet potatoes contain fiber, which may increase fullness, reduce blood sugar spikes and improve digestive health and mobility .

4. Salmon

Salmon is very rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential during pregnancy, especially the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.

Salmon is also one of very few natural sources of vitamin D, which is often lacking in the diet. It is very important for many processes in the body, including bone health and immune function.

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5. Eggs

Eggs are the ultimate health food, because they contain a little bit of almost every nutrient you need.

A large egg contains 77 calories, as well as high-quality protein and fat. It also contains many vitamins and minerals.

A single whole egg contains roughly 113 mg of choline, which is about 25% of the recommended daily intake for pregnant women (450 mg) .

6. Broccoli and dark, leafy greens

Broccoli and dark, green vegetables, such as kale and spinach, contain many of the nutrients that pregnant women need.

These include fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, iron, folate and potassium.

Furthermore, broccoli and leafy greens are rich in antioxidants. They also contain plant compounds that benefit the immune system and digestion .

Due to their high fiber content, these vegetables may also help prevent constipation. This is a very common problem among pregnant women  .

7. Lean meat

Beef, pork and chicken are excellent sources of high-quality protein.

Furthermore, beef and pork are also rich in iron, choline and other B-vitamins — all of which are needed in higher amounts during pregnancy.

Iron is an essential mineral that is used by red blood cells as a part of hemoglobin. It is important for delivering oxygen to all cells in the body.

Pregnant women need more iron, since their blood volume is increasing. This is particularly important during the third trimester.

8. Fish liver oil

Fish liver oil is made from the oily liver of fish, most often cod.

The oil is very rich in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are essential for fetal brain and eye development  .

Consuming cod liver oil during early pregnancy has been linked with higher birth weight and a lower risk of disease later in the baby’s life .

A single serving (one tablespoon) of fish liver oil provides more than the recommended daily intake of omega-3, vitamin D and vitamin A.

9. Berries

Berries are packed with water, healthy carbs, vitamin C, fiber and plant compounds.

They generally contain high amounts of vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron.

Vitamin C is also important for skin health and immune function  .

 10. Whole grains

Eating whole grains may help meet the increased calorie requirements that come with pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters.

As opposed to refined grains, whole grains are packed with fiber, vitamins and plant compounds.

Oats and quinoa also contain a fair amount of protein, which is important during pregnancy.

 11. Avocados

Avocados are an unusual fruit because they contain a lot of monounsaturated fatty acids.

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The healthy fats help build the skin, brain and tissues of the fetus, and folate may help prevent neural tube defects.

12. Dried fruit

Dried fruit is generally high in calories, fiber and various vitamins and minerals.

One piece of dried fruit contains the same amount of nutrients as fresh fruit, just without all the water and in a much smaller form.

Therefore, one serving of dried fruit can provide a large percentage of the recommended intake of many vitamins and minerals, including folate, iron and potassium.

 13. Water

During pregnancy, blood volume increases by up to 1.5 liters. Therefore, it is important to stay properly hydrated .

The fetus usually gets everything it needs, but if you don’t watch your water intake, you may become dehydrated.

Source: Adda/ healthline