An overall healthy diet is always the best option for anyone, but especially for moms to be. Although much of the nutrient content can be achieved through taking a prenatal vitamin, it is still important for mothers to keep a high quality diet. Eating the best pregnancy foods can help ensure a healthy development of the fetus and a healthy pregnancy for the mother.
There are certain foods that contain higher levels of certain nutrients and minerals that are necessary to have while pregnant. These nutrients are essential as they are helpful in preventing the likelihood of birth defects and pregnancy related complications, as well as fortifying strong building blocks for the little one to thrive.
Most of these foods can also be grown in your garden at home giving you the peace of mind knowing it is free of pesticides and chemicals.
“Proteins are made up of amino acids which are considered the building blocks of life for a reason.”
One super food that contains one of the most important nutrients to maintain during pregnancy is the avocado.
Avocados are rich in folic acid, or folate. Women need folic acid during pregnancy for the development of the baby in order to prevent neural defects such as spina bifida. Having a diet high in folic acid is extremely important during the early stages of pregnancy.
Avocados also contain a lot of vitamins and healthy fats which is essential during the early stages of pregnancy. Possibly the biggest benefit to eating avocados during pregnancy is the fact that it helps to balance cholesterol and blood-sugar levels. This can come in handy for women who are at risk for gestational diabetes.
Whole grains really are good for you overall, but during pregnancy they are essential. Whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat cereals, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, and quinoa contain a lot of folate and iron. Whole grains also contain a lot of fiber which is helps to regulate a healthy digestive system.
Try not to go overboard with the whole grains as you don’t want it to lead to constipation. Pregnant women tend to be constipated more than normal because of the hormone progesterone (relaxes muscles causing food to pass through slower).
It is important to try to stick to whole grains as much as possible for your carbohydrate needs. Whole grains help to keep your blood sugar stable which can reduce your risk for gestational diabetes which 10% of pregnant women will get.
Salmon is a great option for fish lovers especially because many other types of good eating fish can be dangerous. Women are advised to stay away from fish during pregnancy because of the elevated mercury levels in many pelagic fish such as mahi mahi and ahi. Salmon does have some mercury but the levels are regarded as safe compared to other fish.
Salmon has an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids which aid in healthy brain and eye development. It also has B vitamins and is a clean source of protein.
It is recommended that pregnant women eat no more than 12 ounces of salmon per week to keep mercury levels low.
A healthy way to get your sugar fix is to consume citrus fruits. It is recommended that pregnant women get 3-4 servings of fruits per day. This fruit family has a lot of vitamins and minerals, but also has a lot of antioxidants.
Lemons are great, as they help with aiding digestion, and oranges come loaded with vitamins (especially vitamin C) and nutrients so keeping these citrus fruits within arm’s reach is a must. Lime juice can even help alleviate some of the pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and constipation.
Berries are also great fruits to digest as they are high in antioxidants, and they taste great too and can curb your cravings for foods that are not so good for you, such as chocolate and other sweets.
Berries also contain much of the essential nutrients that is needed during pregnancy. They tend to be high in folate, potassum, vitamin C, and fiber. Much like citrus fruits, berries are also another alternative to sweets and other simple or processed sugars.
Leafy greens also house an arsenal of nutrients. In my article “Healthiest Leafy Greens“, I outline my top five leafy greens to grow in the garden in terms of nutrition. These often overlooked vegetables have many of the nutrients that are vital during the early stages of pregnancy. Leafy greens such as spinach and kale can supply your body with healthy minerals like iron, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
In order to retain most of the nutrient content be sure to eat them raw such as in a salad. If you’d like to add a little more flavor to your greens, try steaming them and adding salt and pepper or adding them to a soup. Remember, the less “cooking” you do the more nutrients are preserved.
Yogurt is high in calcium which is needed for healthy bone development. By the end of the first trimester your baby has started to develop into recognizable features such as arms and legs. Supplying your body with a high amount of calcium during this time is essential to providing the building blocks of bone growth.
Yogurt is also high in protein which is needed throughout the whole pregnancy. Proteins are made up of amino acids which are considered the building blocks of life for a reason. Amino acids help to build strong muscle tissue which is not only needed by your developing baby, but by you as well as your body starts to adjust to the weight gain and strain put on the abdominal muscles.
Although technically not a pregnancy “food”, prenatal vitamins are absolutely essential to a healthy pregnancy and supply your body with all the nutrients needed. Prenatal vitamins help to fill in any gaps in nutrition throughout the nine months.
Recommended: Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin
In a perfect world pregnant mothers would eat the perfect balanced diet which satisfies all the nutrient requirements of a healthy pregnancy. However, in reality it is extremely difficult to eat a perfect diet even when not pregnant.
These are The Urban Farmer’s list of best pregnancy foods. Whether or not you choose to supply your body with these foods, realize that diet plays a huge role in the development of your child. If you aren’t accustomed to eating these foods on a day-to-day basis, try to incorporate them in slowly. Perhaps it may be replacing a candy bar with a bag of oranges, or choosing the avocado salad over the fried chicken. Just remember, whatever you’re feeding yourself you’re also feeding your baby.
Author: Brennan Young
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