Eating for two can be a nerve-wracking responsibility, especially with so much conflicting information.Is it important to eat enough fish, or does it contain too much mercury? Do you need meat for protein, or is it too fatty? Are eggs okay, or do they have too much cholesterol?It’s enough to make you want to throw your hands up and dive into the nearest bag of candy bars. There are lots of ways to ensure that you and your baby are getting the nutrients you both need.Here’s some advice from nutrition experts on their top pregnancy foods. You don’t need to like or eat them all, but pick and choose your favorites to give your pregnancy a nutritional boost.
“It’s amazing what you get in one egg for only about 90 calories,”. In addition to more than 12 vitamins and minerals, eggs contain lots of quality protein, which is essential for pregnancy.”Your baby’s cells are growing at an exponential rate, and every cell is made of protein,” . “Plus, as a pregnant woman, you have your own protein needs.”Eggs are also rich in choline, which promotes your baby’s overall growth and brain health, while helping prevent neural tube defects. Some eggs even contain omega-3 fats, important for both brain and vision development. (Brands that have omega-3s will probably state it on the label. Look for DHA-enriched eggs because those contain the most beneficial form of omega-3s.)As for the egg’s bad rap about cholesterol? Not warrant. It turns out that eating saturated fat does much more damage to your cholesterol level than eating the cholesterol naturally found in food.And while eggs are high in cholesterol, they’re also relatively low in saturated fat, with only about 1 1/2 grams per egg.
“Healthy women with normal blood cholesterol can consume one to two eggs a day as part of a balanced diet low in saturated fat,”. But if cholesterol is a concern for you, substitute egg whites for whole eggs.Need more convincing? Eggs are cheap, easy, quick, and versatile. When you’re too exhausted to cook a full meal, a couple of hard-boiled or scrambled eggs are just the ticket.
Not only is salmon rich in high-quality protein, but it’s also an exceptionally good source of omega-3 fats, which are good for your baby’s development – and may help boost your mood. And unlike swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and shark, salmon has low amounts of methylmercury, a compound that can be harmful to your baby’s developing nervous system.Just remember that even for salmon and other low-mercury fish, the FDA recommends eating no more than 12 ounces per week to avoid ingesting too much mercury.
Navy beans, lentils, black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas … there are so many to choose from. “Beans contain the most fiber and protein of all the vegetables,”You already know that it’s important to get enough protein during pregnancy, but you may not yet realize that fiber could become your new best friend. When you’re pregnant, your gastrointestinal tract slows down, putting you at risk for constipation and hemorrhoids. Fiber can help prevent and relieve these problems.In addition, food that contains fiber tends to be rich in nutrients. This is certainly true of beans, which are good sources of iron, folate, calcium, and zinc.
Sweet potatoes get their orange color from carotenoids, plant pigments that are converted to vitamin A in our bodies.Although consuming too much “preformed” vitamin A (found in animal sources, such as liver, milk, and eggs) can be dangerous, carotenoids are a different type. They’re converted to vitamin A only as needed, so there’s no need to restrict your consumption of vitamin A-rich fruits and veggies.Sweet potatoes are also a great source of vitamin C, folate, and fiber. And like beans, they’re inexpensive and versatile. “Cook extra and save them to slice up later as a snack,”.
Here’s some happy news: Popcorn is a whole grain. “People love it when I tell them that!” .Whole grains are important in pregnancy because they’re high in fiber and nutrients, including vitamin E, selenium, and phytonutrients (plant compounds that protect cells).But don’t stop at popcorn: There are lots of other whole grains out there, from oatmeal to barley.
“Walnuts are one of the richest sources of plant-based omega-3s,”. “A handful of walnuts is a great choice for an on-the-run snack or an addition to a salad.”While plant-based omega-3s don’t provide much of the DHA that will benefit your baby, they’re still good for both of you. Walnuts are also a good source of protein and fiber. But if you are allergic to walnuts like I do you might want to keep them away.
Greek yogurt typically has twice the protein of regular yogurt, making it one of my favorite pregnancy foods. And any kind of yogurt is a great source of calcium, which is vital in a pregnancy diet. If you don’t take in enough calcium, the limited amount you have will go to your baby, depleting the calcium in your bones.”The goal during pregnancy is to make sure you provide everything your baby needs without sacrificing your own health and nutrition,”. “Calcium will help keep your own bones intact while laying down a healthy skeleton for your baby.”
Dark green, leafy vegetables
Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and other green leafy vegetables are loaded with vitamins and nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as the all-important folate. They’ve also been found to promote eye health.
Meat is an excellent source of high-quality protein, “Look for lean meats with the fat trimmed off,” . “When buying red meat in particular, look for cuts that are around 95 to 98 percent fat free.”Beef stand out among meats because they contain choline in addition to protein.Don’t eat deli meats or fast food , though, unless they’re heated until steaming hot. There’s a small risk of passing bacteria and parasites, such as listeria, toxoplasma, or salmonella, from the meat to your baby.
Colorful fruits and veggies
Eating plenty of green, red, orange, yellow, purple, and white fruits and vegetables ensures that you and your baby get a variety of nutrients. “Each color group provides different vitamins and minerals,”. “During the later stages of pregnancy, the baby ‘tastes’ the foods you eat through the amniotic fluid,” . “So if you expose your baby to a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables in the womb, you’ll increase the chance that your baby will recognize and accept those flavors later on.”