Congratulations on having a baby! Pregnancy shouldn't be a prerequisite to a lifetime of maternal guilt for moms, especially when it comes to what they eat. While eating healthy helps pregnant moms stay healthier, be more energized, and develop their babies, there's a lot more focus on the baby itself than there is on the maternal eating habits during gestation. Today, pregnant moms are bombarded with so much information that it's an overload, so it's easy to get confused as to just what should and shouldn't be eaten, especially if mom can't always have access to her personal doctor to guide her on a daily basis. Either way, there are foods that are great during pregnancy, especially those that help keep moms active such as grains, fruits, water, and many others that can be cooked up into a wholesome meal. There's a lot that happens when a pregnant mom eats well, because it benefits not just herself, but the baby growing in her womb, so it's a win-win for mommy and baby. Moms need good nutrition, because eventually, it has an effect on their mood, their energy levels, and also how they look overall. We like to call them fuel foods, or power foods, and though they'll taste differently from one pregnant mom to another, the effect in terms of nutritional value cuts across the board. Without further ado, here are just 20 fuel foods for pregnant moms to stock up on to remain active (and pretty) during pregnancy.
20 Dairy Products Have Much-Needed Calcium
Dairy products may not augur well with every woman who is pregnant, but that's something the doctor can advise on in terms of healthy alternatives that deliver the same required nutrients. However, for those who are unaffected by dairy foods, they are the best dietary source of calcium, especially yogurt, which contains more calcium than any dairy product available. If you want to stay on top of your super while preggarz, add some Greek yogurt to your daily diet. It can be eaten with breakfast, as a snack or for lunch, and you can add some fresh fruit, honey, or chia seeds to make it yummier!
19 Legumes Have Protein And Folate
The first thing that comes to mind when legumes are brought up is lentils, peas and beans. However, it also includes chickpeas, soybeans, and peanuts, and are known to provide fiber, protein, iron, calcium and folate (B9) which pregnant women need more of. Folate is necessary for the mom and her unborn baby’s health, especially in trimester one, though not many women consume enough of it. Adding lentils and beans (like black, garbanzo or kidney) to your weekly diet adds to your daily dose of folic where it naturally occurs, keeping you full while providing the fiber and protein you need to maintain your energy levels throughout the day.
18 Sweet potatoes: Vitamin A
Sweet potatoes are such a rich, filling, and energy-giving food that contains beta-carotene, which is converted in the body into vitamin A. Pregnant women need to increase their vitamin A intake by up to 40 percent, but not take very high amounts of animal-based vitamin A sources due to toxicity, so this is a great and safer source (being a plant compound) for pregnant women. Sweet potatoes are also rich in fiber so you’ll feel full, but also benefit from reduced blood sugar spikes, and improved digestive health. Whether you bake, roast or mash the tubers, or prepare a veggie meal together with some avocado, broccoli and a few pieces of lean meat, you’ll have enough fuel to carry you through the day thanks to its energizing complex carbs that fill you up.
17 Salmon Is The Perfect Source Of Omega-3
Fish is always a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential during pregnancy, and that people aren’t getting nearly enough of from their regular diet. Much of this is found in high amounts in seafood, and not only helps moms stay active, by increasing their blood levels of EPA and DHA long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, but also helps build the brain and eyes of the unborn baby. Its recommended to eat two to three meals of fatty fish weekly to get the recommended intake, and salmon is one of the few natural sources of this nutrient as well as vitamin D. However, its always advisable to consult with your doctor on the amount you require.
16 Eggs Are Packed With Goodness
Eggs are a great health food as they contain little amounts of almost every nutrient pregnant moms need. With about 77 calories, high quality protein, vitamins, fat and minerals, eggs can be incredibly nutritious and one of the best ways to fuel up and increase overall nutrient intake. They’re also rich in choline which is needed for brain development and healthy body processes. A single egg is recommended for pregnant moms daily, as it has roughly 113 mg of choline, which is 25 percent of the recommended daily intake, according to Healthline. need more protein during pregnancy, and eggs provide this plus they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids and minerals.
15 Broccoli and dark, leafy greens: Fiber And Folate
Broccoli, together with other dark green leafy veggies like kale and spinach offer rich nutrients that pregnant women need such as fiber, vitamins C, K and A, iron, calcium, potassium, and folate. They are also rich in antioxidants, according to Healthline, with plant compounds that help the immune system, as well as digestion. As fuel foods, they not only prevent constipation due to their high fiber content, but also reduce water retention, keeping you feeling better as you go along. If you don’t like broccoli, you can sauté it with some raisins, olive oil, or add a handful to some soup or tomato sauce.
14 Lean meat: Iron And choline
Lean meat such as beef, pork and chicken, are great not just for keeping your body energized, but are excellent sources of high quality protein. Beef and pork are rich in iron and choline, which are needed during pregnancy as pregnant women need more iron with the increasing blood volume. Protein sources are also good for supporting the baby’s growth, so foods like meat, poultry, fish, and other non-animal proteins like beans, tofu, cheese, milk, nuts and seeds are also ideal alternatives. Fit Pregnancy suggests flank steak or sirloin as they’re easy to prepare in a slow cooker, or make a burger if you’re feeling creative.
13 Fish liver oil: So Much Omega-3 And Vitamin D
This is extracted and made from the oily liver of fish, usually the cod, and is rich in the much needed omega-3 fatty acids essential for pregnant moms, but also for the development of the fetal brain and eyes. It is rich in vitamin D and beneficial if you don’t eat seafood regularly. Low vitamin D intake is linked to higher risk of preeclampsia, so consuming fish liver oil early in pregnancy is good for you and your unborn baby. However, Healthline recommends to consumer only one serving that’s about one tablespoon daily, as too much also has its dangers on the fetus. Its also a good source of lean protein and such healthy fat is good for your heart.
12 Berries: Vitamin C And Antioxidants
Berries are not just great additions to your breakfast or any other dessert like Greek yogurt and ice cream, but they're rich fruits packed with water, healthy carbs, loads of vitamin C which helps the body absorb iron, fiber, and plant compounds. Not only are they good for your skin health, but also for your immune function which means you'll be glowing while looking healthy and upbeat each time if you keep berries in your diet. They also don't cause major spikes in blood sugar, and they're rich in flavor and nutrients with few calories, plus antioxidants. For pregnant women, they help increase nutrient and water intake, Healthline says, so add strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries to your daily diet, and snack on them throughout the day, about one or two cups. Yum!
11 Whole grains: Fiber And Vitamins
Whole grains, according to Healthline, may help meet the increased calorie needs that come with pregnancy especially during the second and third trimesters. Unlike refined grains, whole ones are rich in vitamins and fiber, and some even have a fair amount of protein like oats and quinoa, which are great during pregnancy. Generally, you'll get nutrients such as B-vitamins, fiber and magnesium, all of which usually lack in pregnant women's diets. if you like, you can grab all the whole grains and mix them up to create your own muesli, and have that as a snack that you can eat everyday.
10 Avocados: So Many Vitamins
Avocado is one of the most popular fruits in the world right now, and it contains monounsaturated fatty acids, fiber, folate and other B-vitamins, vitamin K, potassium, copper, vitamin E and C, Healthline says. It is a great choice for pregnant women because of its high content of healthy fats, folate and potassium as these nutrients help build the skin, brain and tissues of the unborn baby, while preventing neural tube defects. For the pregnant woman, potassium found in this fruit may help relive leg cramps, so you don't have to worry about that as you continue with your day. Otherwise they're so tasty, and easy to incorporate in your diet like salads, or guacamole dips and sauces, or dab it on a slice of toast and have it with your breakfast or as a snack.
9 Dried fruit: Fiber, Vitamins, And Minerals
Sounds good already, doesn't it? Dried fruit is high in calories, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and Healthline says one piece of dried fruit contains the same nutrient count as fresh fruit, minus the water, and in smaller forms. This is good news for pregnant women because one serving can deliver a huge percentage of the recommended vitamin and mineral intake, which includes folate, iron and potassium. You can mix up dried fruit like prunes, dates, and add a few nuts for a more delicious serving. However, be careful not to pick the candied varieties as they have a lot of sugar, dried fruit already contains high amounts of natural sugar already.
8 Water Cures So Many Pregnancy Problems
Most, if not all, pregnant women have heard this one word at some point during their pregnancy: Hydrate. Sure enough, water is an important part of pregnancy because as the fetus draws everything it needs, mom needs to watch her water intake or else she'll be dehydrated, and get symptoms like headaches, anxiety, bad moods, tiredness and reduced memory. Water is good for an active pregnant woman plus it helps relieve constipation, reduce the risk of urinary tract infections, and keeps your skin looking supple and fresh all day, every day. Healthline recommends about 1 to 2 liters every day even though water comes from other foods and beverages like your tea, fruit and veggies. It also increases blood volume and works wonders on your energy and well-being, as well as your baby's health and development. If you want to add some zing to its taste, add a slice of citrus fruit to your water jar and sip as you go along.
7 Citrus Fruit Are Famous For Vitamin C
Just the sound of the words citrus fruit makes you think of a refreshing experience, right? Well, that's what fruit like oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and other citrus fruits do, they satisfy cravings and add vitamin C to your body, leaving you feeling refreshed and ready for the day. The vitamin C helps iron get absorbed into your blood, and the citrus fruit is beneficial during pregnancy as an important powerhouse of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals for your nutritional intake. The Healthsite says on average, up to 3 or 4 servings of fruits a day are beneficial, and senior nutritionist, Shobha Shastry, advises moms to take more whole fruits than juices.
6 Cereals: Iron To Avoid Anemia
According to Live Science, pregnant women need about 27 milligrams of iron daily, which is about double that needed by non-expectant women. The additional amount is needed for baby's oxygen supply as it makes more blood to cater for this. What this means is if mommy isn't getting enough iron, she could get anemia, resulting in fatigue and she'll be more at risk of infections. Among the foods pregnant women can eat to increase iron absorption include a good source of vitamin C like a glass of orange juice, but also iron-fortified cereal can deliver more iron than one serving of spinach. Since baby pulls iron from your blood during pregnancy, Fit Pregnancy advises moms to make sure you have your favorite bowl of flakes each day to stay healthy, active, and ensure baby is also supplied with enough.
5 Almonds/Nuts: Protein And Folic Acid
Nuts are yummy but also very heart healthy and just a quarter cup of these a day deliver what Fit Pregnancy says is more than a third of your daily dose of vitamin E, which is also great for baby's brain development. Almonds are protein rich and can keep off hunger pangs, instead of noshing on crackers or pretzels which are salty and have few calories. They're also a great source of folic acid that's essential for baby's development, but for pregnant moms, they keep you fuller for longer, thus lowering unnecessary weight gain, but also aid metabolism and are a healthy source of carbs and energy.
4 Bananas: Potassium, Of Course!
Bananas are referred to as the world's 'most portable snack' and also contains about ten percent of a pregnant mom's daily potassium needs, as the mineral helps avoid hypertension related to pregnancy. Potassium also helps regulate fluid and blood pressure preventing leg cramps or pain at later stages, plus helps with nausea. Huffington Post notes that they are a great source of vitamins B6 and C, and fiber, plus are easy on your tummy. Get creative by slicing them up into your bowl of cereal or whip one into a smoothie and add some yogurt, berries, and a splash of orange juice.
3 Quinoa: Convenient Source Of Fiber And Protein
Quinoa is a rich and complete source of veggie protein, for pregnant moms who don't like meat or are trying to cut back on animal products. They are high in fiber, which meats cannot claim, and cook much faster. Pregnant moms need about 71 grams of protein daily, according to Fit Pregnancy, and a cup of quinoa delivers 8 grams. It is also higher in unsaturated fats and low in carbs than most grains, providing calcium, iron, phosphorous, B vitamins, and vitamin E, plus folic acid. You can serve it up cold or add to your salad, or just serve it warm in stir fry, as recommended by Owletcare.
2 Red Bell Peppers: Vitamin C And Antioxidants
According to Fit Pregnancy, one red bell pepper delivers nearly three times as much vitamin C as you'd get from an orange fruit. That's great for keeping your immunity strong, especially for pregnant moms. The antioxidants from vitamin C also help baby's brain develop, as your body absorbs the much needed iron, so get creative with your red bell peppers and start drawing the rich benefits from it. They also improve eye health and reduce risk of chronic diseases, so you can combine them in a sald with carrots, or a salsa, stir fry and pasta dish. Or simply add in a roast with some garlic and lemon, or to your sandwiches and enjoy your energy-filled day.
1 Oatmeal: Magnesium
Oats and other whole grains, Parents.com says, supply your body with complex carbs that are processed into valuable energy. Additionally, they have dietary fiber that helps regulate your digestive system, and are rich in potassium and iron. One cup of oatmeal, which is a breakfast favorite, delivers more than 30 percent of the daily dose of magnesium that pregnant moms need so that their baby's bones and teeth are built. They are full of fiber, B vitamins, iron and other minerals, and can help if dealing with constipation, so you can mix them up with nuts, some raspberries and a scoop of chocolate just to make it palatable if you cannot eat it on its own.
References: fitpregnancy.com, foxnews.com, healthline.com, blog.owletcare.com, livescience.com, creativehealthyfamily.com