Diet plays a key role in the health of both mom and baby during pregnancy. What a woman eats and drinks while pregnant is her baby’s primary source of nourishment. Also, it’s not only about what you eat, but how much you eat. John Hopkins Medicine recommends taking in an extra 300 calories per day to maintain a healthy pregnancy and curb common pregnancy symptoms like constipation and nausea.
At mealtime, try to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Include whole grains, protein-rich foods, and low-fat and fat-free dairy products in your pregnancy diet. Limit foods and beverages with lots of added sodium, sugars, and saturated fats. Need help getting started? Check out our list of top 10 foods to eat during pregnancy.
What Is the Best Food to Eat During Pregnancy?
1. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are a healthy and delicious food to eat during pregnancy. Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes are rich in carbohydrates, the body’s main source of energy. They are also high in beta carotene, a compound essential for healthy fetal development. Other sweet potato benefits for women include a reduction in blood sugar spikes and improved digestive health.
Add sweet potato as a side to any meal or leverage its sweet notes by incorporating it into a dessert. Sweet potatoes are highly versatile and can be boiled, baked, or stir-fried. While there are many sweet potato benefits during pregnancy, women with a history of chronic kidney disease should avoid them as they contain a high amount of oxalate which could increase the risk of kidney stones.
Fish can be a tricky subject when it comes to safe pregnancy foods. Although it can have many health benefits, it does come with certain dangers like food-borne illness and mercury contamination. Salmon is considered a good choice during pregnancy as it has a low mercury content and a subtle fish taste. Expecting moms can enjoy many salmon health benefits, such as improved cardiovascular health.
Salmon is packed with omega-3s which are important for your baby’s brain health. It is also one of the few natural sources of vitamin D, a vitamin essential for bone health and immune function. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that pregnant women consume between 8 and 12 ounces of low-mercury seafood a week.
Legumes are an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. They also deliver a rich source of fiber, a must-have to guard against common pregnancy problems like constipation and hemorrhoids. Other legumes health benefits include reduced levels of total cholesterol and LDC or “bad” cholesterol.
Legumes are a healthy plant-based source of fiber, iron, protein, calcium, and folate. Folate, in particular, is one of the most essential B vitamins and is critical for your baby’s health, especially during the first trimester. The legumes food group includes the following:
Good nutrition during pregnancy is crucial and that means eating a well-rounded diet. Eggs are a great way to help pregnant women meet their daily nutritional requirements as they are filled with good fats, vitamins, and minerals. Other health benefits of eggs include the support of strong muscles, brain health, energy production, and a lower risk of heart disease.
Most people know that eggs carry the risk of foodborne illnesses, such as salmonella. To avoid harming yourself or the baby, avoid eggs that are prepared with a runny yolk, such as sunny side up, over easy, poached, or soft-boiled eggs. Ensure that the eggs are thoroughly cooked before eating. A well-cooked egg has a firm egg white and yolk with no runny center.
5. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are chocked full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and can protect against a wide range of diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Eating leafy greens helps the body feel satisfied longer as the cells are getting the essential nutrients they need to function optimally.
Benefits of leafy greens during pregnancy include healthy weight loss for mom, reduced risk of developing anemia, maintenance of healthy blood pressure, and healthy birth weight for the baby. Examples of some tasty and nutritionally-sound leafy green vegetables include:
- Collard greens
- Romaine lettuce
- Beet greens
- Swiss chard
6. Lean Meat and Proteins
Protein is vital during pregnancy for the proper growth of your baby’s organs and tissues. It also plays a role in increasing your blood supply to ensure that your baby receives an ample contribution. The protein food group includes a range of foods, such as lean meats, chicken, and fish. It also includes vegetarian alternatives, such as tofu, nuts, beans, and eggs.
Lean meat benefits include increased energy, lower cholesterol, and faster repair of damaged cells. Popular protein sources like beef, lamb, and pork can be consumed on their own or added to stews, soups, stir-fries, pasta dishes, or bakes. Foods like nuts can be used in salads, breakfast cereal, or enjoyed in moderation as a snack.
7. Whole Grains
While there is no one best food to eat during pregnancy, there are some essential food groups. Whole grains are necessary to deliver the energy needed to grow and nurse a baby. Whole grain foods contain the entire grain seed, which is made up of a bran, germ, and endosperm. Whole grains can be eaten in their whole form or after various forms of processing.
The benefits of whole grains are numerous. They are an excellent source of folic acid, contain high fiber, are made up of resistant starch, and deliver essential minerals. Some examples of whole grains include quinoa, wheat, corn, teff, wheat berries, barley, oatmeal, and black, brown, and wild rice.
Avocados are a tasty health food and a nutritious source of fat. They are packed with fiber and can help expecting moms maintain healthy blood pressure levels. Avocados are also rich in powerful antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta carotene, and zeazathantin.
There is more to avocado benefits than nutrition alone. This versatile food is also filling and can help prevent pregnant women from overeating. Slice up an avocado and add it to a veggie omelet, a salad, or on whole grain toast.
9. Dairy Products
It is important for women to consume extra calcium and protein during pregnancy to meet the growing needs of their babies. Dairy products contain two important types of protein: whey and casein. Other benefits of daily products include the building and maintaining of strong bones, weight management, and improved heart health.
Dairy products can provide expecting moms with extra energy, support gut health, and improve immune function. Milk, in particular, is one of the healthiest dairy products as it contains 13 essential nutrients. Other daily products to add to your diet include:
- Fat-free or low-fat yogurt
- Cream (sour cream, heavy cream, etc.)
Berries are not only delicious, but they are also a good source of vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, and healthy carbohydrates. They also contain lots of water, making them a great way to support hydration. Berries may improve insulin and blood sugar levels and can help fight inflammation in the body.
From strawberries and blueberries to raspberries and blackberries, this versatile food is a suitable snack any time of the day. Add your favorite berry to breakfast cereal, salads, drinks, desserts, or eat them on their own. The benefits of berries are not only useful during pregnancy but can help new moms lose weight after childbirth.
Benefits of Good Nutrition During Pregnancy
The benefits of good nutrition during pregnancy cannot be ignored. Eating the right foods helps ensure that both mom’s and baby’s nutritional needs during pregnancy are met. A healthy diet can also reduce the chances of complications, such as low birth weight, anemia, and birth defects. The importance of nutrition during pregnancy also impacts how expecting moms feel. Eating a wholesome diet can help increase energy and fight fatigue.
Pregnant women are more susceptible to certain infections during pregnancy, such as colds and flus. Maintaining a healthy diet can help support a healthy immune system that safeguards against harmful infections. Eating good foods can also improve sleep. There are many things that can keep pregnant women up at night, such as nausea, aches and pains, and late-night bathroom breaks. The vitamins and minerals found in these top foods to eat during pregnancy can contribute to a productive sleep.
Eating a balanced diet should begin before you get pregnant. Speak with your doctor about the best foods to support a healthy pregnancy and continue to implement good eating habits throughout your pregnancy. During pregnancy, your doctor may prescribe a prenatal vitamin to help fill in any nutritional gaps you may have and ensure that the baby gets the nutrients he or she needs for healthy development.
When you’re looking and feeling your absolute best, you can enjoy all the fun milestones of pregnancy, such as hearing the baby’s first heartbeat, buying the baby’s first outfit, and sporting stylish maternity wear. At Mama Bump Rentals, you’ll find a wide selection of designer maternity gowns and dresses suitable for a variety of occasions, such as baby showers, maternity photoshoots, formal gatherings, and weddings. Search for the perfect maternity dress rental for your upcoming event.