10 Superfoods To Power Your Pregnancy
Eating for two? Nutritionist and Women’s Health & Fertility expert, Cathey Stoner, shares 10 healthy foods to help power your pregnancy.
While we often hear what not to eat when we’re pregnant, it’s rare we’re told about the incredible superfoods you should be eating!
What you eat before, during, and after pregnancy will have a profound impact on your maternal health, the growth and development of your baby, and your postpartum recovery and well-being, which is why I want to tell you about 10 of my favorite pregnancy superfoods.
By implementing a few changes in nutrition while your baby is nestled in your womb, you can boost your child’s brain development, decrease their risk for chronic diseases later in life, decrease risk of allergies and asthma, build their immune systems and improve birth outcomes.
10 Healthy Pregnancy Foods
Power your pregnancy with these top 10 foods for pregnancy picks.
- Chia Seeds
- Red meat
- Whole grains
Did you know that it is recommended that women consume 100 oz of water a day during pregnancy? As blood volume and amniotic fluid increases, so does your overall fluid needs. To help meet your daily requirements, you can get fluids from high water content foods like watermelon. Watermelon also contains vitamin C and vitamin A to help keep your immune system in gear. Other foods with high water content include cucumber, lettuce, celery, soups, and other non-sweetened, non-caffeinated beverages.
Eggs are one of the best superfoods. They boost fertility and are a jackpot for prenatal nutrition because they are loaded with choline, vitamin D, protein and fat. There is evidence that prenatal choline exposure can help memory and brain health throughout adulthood! Adequate vitamin D can support immunity in our babies and even help prevent infection, asthma, and other diseases.
#3 Chia seeds
Small but mighty, chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein. Adding protein and fiber during pregnancy can help balance your blood sugars, keeping your nausea at bay and your energy up. Fiber goals during pregnancy are 25 – 40 grams daily. Two tbsp of chia seeds have about 7 grams of fiber. You can get additional fiber from broccoli, oats, brussels sprouts, most fruits, and seeds.
Lentils are an inexpensive plant-based protein and a fabulous source of fiber. Unfortunately, constipation can be a constant companion during pregnancy. Lentils can provide the type of fiber needed for healthy digestion. Additionally, many moms have a food aversion for meats during pregnancy making it more difficult to take in enough protein. Beans, peas, and lentils are an easy, meat-free way to add protein into your day.
Women are often afraid of fish during pregnancy due to food borne illness, which can cause them to miss out on important nutrients that benefit baby through to adulthood. Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA, have been shown to help support eye development and brain health in baby. It may even help prevent developmental delays and improve problem solving skills! In moms, we see that omega 3s may decrease risk of postpartum depression and support skin integrity as we grow and stretch.
Kefir, like yogurt, is fermented dairy that is packed with calcium and probiotics. Calcium is necessary during pregnancy as baby’s bones and teeth form. In fact, it is the cornerstone for building healthy bones. Because it is so important to baby in utero, if mom doesn’t consume enough calcium during pregnancy, the body will mobilize (or draw out) calcium from her bones to use for her baby’s growth. When this happens, mom’s calcium levels deplete, potentially leading to losses in maternal bone mass. If you can’t tolerate dairy, calcium can be found in greens and fortified dairy alternatives. Kefir contains probiotics that supports baby’s microbiome and immune system. There is also evidence that probiotics are passed through the placenta and can help prevent eczema, seasonal allergies, and colic. Other examples of fermented foods are yogurt, aged cheese, kimchi, sauerkraut, and other fermented vegetables.
All pregnant women need folate (vitamin B9) in its active form for baby’s brain to develop properly, particularly in those early periods of rapid growth and development. Unfortunately, most prenatal supplements still contain folic acid, the synthetic and inactive form of the vitamin. So, check what type of folate is in your pre-natal vitamin and get in those green veggies when you can. I know first-hand that a large salad doesn’t sound very appetizing in those early months, but don’t fret! Cooked greens or a green smoothie may be easier to tolerate. Meanwhile, load up with greens on your “good” days if you just can’t stomach them on your “not so good” days.
These nutritional gems steal the superfood show, especially when it comes to prenatal nutrition. Not only are they high in folate, they are a great source of “good” fats. In those early months of sickness and fatigue, you often need a big “bang for your bite.” Nutrient dense avocados are the ticket. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, fat, and antioxidants to power your pregnancy.
#9 Red Meat
Did you know your iron needs double during pregnancy? Many moms struggle with iron deficiency causing fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Iron is found in its most active forms in animal proteins like red meats. They also contain collagen, which can assist as our bodies grow and stretch. Fats and cholesterol are also essential for hormone production for you and baby during this very hormonal time. When consuming red meat, try to choose organic meat where possible.
#10 Whole grains
Do not be afraid of carbs during pregnancy. This doesn’t mean high fat, high sugar carbs. However, including whole grain carbohydrates into a balanced diet is really important. Whole grains provide fiber, B vitamins, and other micronutrients to support a healthy pregnancy.
It takes a lot of energy and nutrients to “build” a human from scratch. So it is empowering to know that we can control our nutrition and set our babies up for success. Pregnancy may bring a plethora of nutritional challenges like nausea, vomiting, heartburn, fatigue, and food aversions. So, don’t put too much pressure on yourself; eat what sounds palatable. Each food on this list packs a powerful punch, so incorporating just a few intentional food choices during pregnancy can lead to long-term benefits.
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