It is a well-known fact that whatever you eat or don’t eat during pregnancy directly affects your growing baby. Since the little life growing inside you depends on you for each and every requirement for its development, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are eating right and getting all the necessary nutrients.
List of Best Foods to Eat: Pregnancy Super Foods
Fruits to Eat During Pregnancy
Fruits and berries are rich in all types of vitamins and minerals, with avocado being one of the most recommended foods for pregnant women due to its high folate content, along with the presence of vitamins C, E, and K, as well as minerals like copper and potassium. Adequate folate intake ensures proper nervous system and brain development.
Dry fruits are also highly beneficial, as apart from being rich in iron and protein, these are a great source of dietary fibers that help fight constipation.
- Coconut and coconut milk
Vegetables, Beans, and Lentils to Eat During Pregnancy
Green and leafy vegetables like asparagus and spinach are excellent sources of iron, and folate, two of the vital nutrients for pregnant ladies. Vegetables like turnip greens, kale, and broccoli are rich in calcium and vitamin C while offering many dietary fibers.
Beans are also highly recommended for their folic acid, fatty acid content, and iron, magnesium, and potassium.
Lentils are a storehouse of folate, thus being a must-add item in your daily diet to prevent neural tube defects. Other nutrients from lentils include proteins, iron, and Vitamin B6.
- Green Peas
- Sweet Potato
- Bell Peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- Black Beans
- Pinto Beans
- Soy Beans
- Black Eyed Peas
Tips for Healthy Eating: Fruits and Vegetables
- Wash your fruits and vegetables as unwashed fresh foods might contain certain microorganisms like coli, Toxoplasma, Listeria, and Salmonella that might live in the soil where the foods grow. Wash them with lukewarm water if possible, and peel them before eating to minimize any risks, as these infections may be life-threatening for the baby.
- Store cut vegetables and fruits in the freezer or refrigerator within closed containers.
Dairy and Poultry Products to Eat During Pregnancy
Dairy products are one of the best sources of calcium while providing ample amounts of the two high-quality proteins, casein and whey. Both are essential for proper fetal growth, with calcium being vital for proper bone, teeth, and muscle development. Other nutrients in most dairy items include certain B-complex vitamins, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium. Yogurt is an exceptionally beneficial dairy option for pregnant women to have every day. However, there are certain things, like a few types of cheese, that are not safe during pregnancy.
Eggs are another food that provides almost all of the nutrients needed for the growing fetus. It is a good source of choline, another B complex vitamin that helps with proper brain development, reducing the risks of brain and neural tube defects (e.g., spina bifida). But, make sure to avoid raw/half-cooked eggs in things like cookie dough and eggnog, as they might contain salmonella bacteria.
- Cottage Cheese
- Cream Cheese
- Sour Cream
- Organic Butter (in small amounts)
Fresh and Processed Meat to Eat During Pregnancy
Most meat products are safe to consume as long as they are cooked properly, as raw or half-cooked meat and even fish can carry various harmful bacteria like salmonella and Listeria. Cured meats, including sausage, salami, pepperoni, and ham, can also be safe when cooked steaming hot, with no trace of pink in them. This destroys all microorganisms in the meat, keeping you and your baby safe. The same precautions should be taken when you are having items like chicken, turkey, steak, and packaged meatballs.
Tip for Healthy Eating: Cooking Meat and Poultry
- Use a food thermometer to cook veal, lamb, and beef at 145°F, while ground meat and pork should be cooked at 160°F. Poultry should be cooked at a minimum temperature of 165°F.
Fish and Seafood Safe to Eat During Pregnancy
Seafood and fatty fish contain considerable amounts of mercury and certain other contaminants that are harmful to pregnant women. However, that does not mean that you have to give up eating fish altogether, as they are also a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as proteins and vitamin D, with the latter often being deficient in a regular diet as it does not have many natural sources.
Experts recommend having low-mercury fish, like salmon and cod, 2-3 times per week throughout pregnancy. Studies show that women who have 2-3 servings of such fish every week meet their recommended intake of the two types of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.
- Tuna (canned light)
- Halibut (1-2 servings)
- Mahi mahi (1 serving/4 oz)
Tips for Healthy Eating: Fish and Seafood
- Always ensure the fish or seafood is cooked properly, so the internal temperature is at least 145°F.
- Fishes high in mercury, such as sharks, swordfish, and king mackerel, should be avoided altogether.
Other Good Foods to Eat While Pregnant
- Peanut butter
- Hummus (especially the homemade variety)
- Poppy seeds (moderate amounts)
- Whole grains (e.g. pulses, brown rice)
- Clam chowder
- California rolls
- Mayonnaise (avoid the homemade varieties containing raw eggs)