Any woman who has experienced pregnancy knows that a ravenous hunger can come out of nowhere. From one minute to the next, you go from relaxing on the couch to demanding a full buffet in front of you so you can stuff your face. As much as we want every pregnant woman to have whatever she wants, it’s important to monitor the food you eat during pregnancy.
It’s not just about the ABC’s of vitamins for pregnant women; rather, other superfoods deliver necessary nutrients for the optimal health of growing babies. Folate, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, and iodine are essential nutrients that contribute to healthy fetal growth and development. While the occasional bowl of ice cream or slice of pizza won’t derail your pregnancy, try your best to include the following nutrient-dense foods in your daily diet.
As a rich source of calcium and folate, broccoli needs to be a staple in every pregnant woman’s diet. The fiber helps to encourage healthy digestion and it keeps you satiated between meals. Broccoli also contains vitamin C, which works to fight harmful free radicals. Additionally, vitamin C aids the absorption of iron, so make sure to eat broccoli with iron-rich foods for optimal nutrient absorption.
Whether you’re pregnant or not, lentils are excellent to include in your diet. Containing lots of protein (one cooked cup contains 17 grams) and fiber, lentils help keep the digestive system running smoothly, reducing the all too common constipation during pregnancy. Lentils also contain folate, an essential B vitamin that encourages healthy brain and nervous system development in your baby.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Vegetables are beneficial, but green vegetables are where it’s at. Get a super blend of nutrients when you include kale, spinach, chard, arugula, and collards in your pregnancy diet. All of these leafy greens contain vitamins, A, C, & K, folate, potassium, calcium, iron, and other antioxidants. An added bonus is that leafy greens help you meet your daily fiber goals, staving off pregnancy constipation.
Nuts & Nut Butters
You don’t want your baby to be fat, but you need the right fats for the baby’s healthy brain development. Health experts advise pregnant women to replace saturated fats (in meats and butter) with unsaturated fats, which are abundant in nuts. Unsaturated fats are beneficial for both heart and brain health. Since nuts contain a lot of calories, stick to a one-ounce serving of nuts or two-ounce serving of nut butter at a time. Great varieties include pecans, walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, and Brazil nuts.
If you want your baby to grow healthy tissues, it’s time to load up on some vitamin A, which is present in sweet potatoes. One medium sweet potato satisfies 300% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, and it also offers lots of potassium and vitamin C.
It’s very common for pregnant women to experience fatigue, and the carbs in bananas help to fight that lethargy. If you feel nauseous, eat bananas because they are very easy on the stomach. Bananas are also excellent sources of potassium, which works to regulate blood pressure and decrease your risk of preeclampsia, or other pregnancy complications. One study found that pregnant women with balanced blood pressure levels had a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome up to ten years later.
They are creamy, dreamy, and loaded with healthy fats that help keep cravings at bay. The monounsaturated fats and folate help to build your baby’s tissues, brain, and skin. Just like bananas, avocados contain potassium (they actually have more potassium than bananas), which helps to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
During pregnancy, a woman must eat foods that help repair muscles on a regular basis. The uterus grows and abdominals and hips stretch in unfamiliar ways as a result. When you consume protein-rich foods like pumpkin seeds, your muscles have an easier time keeping up with the daily changes the body goes through. Pumpkin seeds also contain zinc, potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, and other nutrients that hydrate the muscles.