It’s a well-known fact that for a healthy pregnancy, a healthy, nutritious diet is essential. A healthy pregnancy diet should include a variety of foods that provide vital nutrients required for the growth & development of the fetus.
By eating healthily, women can also prevent pregnancy complications, ensuring the good health of both – the mother and the child. Thus, let’s check out what foods should be a part of your pregnancy diet and what foods to avoid.
Foods to Eat While Pregnant
Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are an excellent source of calcium, protein, and vitamin D. They help build the baby’s bones, muscles, and keep the mother’s bones strong too.
Legumes provide protein, iron, folate, and calcium, all of which are essential nutrients during pregnancy. This group of foods includes chickpeas, lentils, beans, soybeans, and peanuts. Legumes are also generally high in fiber, potassium, and magnesium, which helps regulate blood pressure and prevents & alleviates constipation and hemorrhoids.
An egg is the ultimate pregnancy food and a great choline source that helps develop the baby’s brain and prevents abnormalities. A single egg contains roughly 147 mg of choline which is half of the recommended 450 mg/per day.
They are also a good source of protein. An intake of 1-2 eggs per day is suggested for pregnant women.
Dark Leafy Vegetables
Vegetables such as broccoli, kale, spinach are packed with essential nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, iron, and more. Dark leafy vegetables should be a must in your daily diet. You can also make healthy smoothies out of it.
Staying hydrated is very important during pregnancy to prevent headaches, anxiety, tiredness, and mood swings. Drinking plentiful water helps you to digest food and alleviates constipation.
It also prevents urinary tract infections. A pregnant woman should have about 2.3 liters of water daily. Apart from water, you need to consume fruits and vegetables to keep your body hydrated.
Fruits are highly recommended during pregnancy as they are low in calories and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Avocados especially contain a lot of monounsaturated fatty acids.
They are rich in vitamins, fiber, folate, and potassium, which aids in the development of the baby’s skin, brain, and tissues. Folate, in particular, prevents developmental abnormalities in the fetus and neural tube defects.
Sweet potatoes are a rich source of carotene, a plant compound that gets converted to Vitamin A in the body. It is also a good source of fiber, which keeps pregnant women satiated for a long time, reduces the risk of blood sugar spikes, and improves digestive health.
Lean beef, pork, and chicken are excellent sources of high-quality protein, iron, choline, and other B vitamins. Iron is an essential mineral to generate red blood cells and increases the blood flow throughout the body.
Low iron levels during pregnancy may lead to anemia, increasing the risk of low birth weight and other pregnancy complications. Thus, add lean meat to your diet to increase your iron intake.
Foods to Avoid While Pregnant
Undercooked or Raw Fish & Eggs
Raw fish, especially shellfish, can cause infections. Some of these infections may not only affect you but also your baby.
Listeriosis is a severe infection that can be passed to the fetus through the placenta and lead to premature birth or stillbirth. Raw eggs may be contaminated with salmonella, which could cause fever, nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.
Just like raw eggs, raw sprouts may be contaminated with salmonella. The humid environment these seeds need for sprouting is ideal for the growth of such bacteria and is impossible to wash off. Thus, avoid eating raw sprouts and make sure to wash them thoroughly before cooking them.
Unwashed Food Produce
The surface of unwashed fruits or vegetables may be contaminated with several bacteria and parasites. Toxoplasma is one such bacteria that may affect the baby but show no symptoms at birth. However, the child may have blindness or intellectual disabilities later in life.
Pregnant women are advised to altogether avoid alcohol as it increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Its consumption during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syndrome leading to various disabilities in the infant.
It’s not safe to have unpasteurized juice during pregnancy as it may lead to harmful bacteria from raw fruits or vegetables used to make it. This can cause food poisoning, which is harmful during pregnancy.
Unpasteurized cheese can also result in food poisoning and other food-borne illnesses. Hence, it is not safe to eat them during pregnancy.
The above list is just some of the foods that you need to eat and avoid during pregnancy. To know what is right for you during pregnancy, it is best to consult with your healthcare provider. He’ll help you plan a pregnancy diet that helps enhance the general overall health of you and the baby.