In this Article
Pregnancy, though one of the happiest phases in a woman’s life can impose its own set of psychological, physiological stresses. It is, therefore, important for pregnant women to care for themselves during this phase of their life. On the subject of care, diet and nutrition, what food to eat during pregnancy take special prominence. Pregnant women are required to eat for themselves and their babies taking special care of the nutritional requirements of both.
Studies have indicated that pregnant women require three hundred to five hundred extra calories per day. This added caloric requirement is accompanied by the need to consume up to one thousand two hundred milligrams of calcium, six hundred to eight hundred micrograms of folate along with twenty-seven milligrams of iron.
A diet that would include all of the above nutritional requirements might seem daunting; the good news is that it is not as difficult as it sounds to obtain the extra nutrients. Our nutrient intake depends largely on the choice of food we make. Read on to learn about fifteen essential food choices during pregnancy.
Video: 10 Superfoods to Eat During Pregnancy
List of 15 Healthy Foods for Pregnant Women
Given below is a list of healthy pregnancy foods that are necessary for a healthy baby
Eggs, considered by many as super foods are a great source of proteins, vitamins and minerals. The amino acids that make up the proteins in eggs are crucial for regeneration and repair of cells and are particularly essential for a healthy baby.
A single large egg contains up to 80 calories besides the essential proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals that are necessary for growth and development of babies. Additionally, a single egg also contains a hundred and twelve milligrams of choline which is a quarter of the recommended amount of choline required for pregnant women. Choline is essential for the development of the brain and nervous system.
Eggs are one of the easiest available nutritious food during pregnancy to help with the increased nutrient intake.
Tip: It is relatively easy to whip up a tasty omelette every alternate day or three times a week using only two eggs at a time. The addition of vegetables and cheese will not only add more flavour but will also increase nutritional value. If you wish to avoid fried food, then hard boiling several eggs and storing them in the fridge is a handy way to incorporate them into your diet. Grab a hardboiled egg every time you feel hungry and have it whole, you may even consider making a boiled egg salad. Some women are known to avoid meat during pregnancy and eggs are the best foods to substitute for meat proteins.
2. Fortified Breakfast Cereals
The health benefits of cereals have been known and established for quite some time, especially multi-grain cereals. Fortified cereals are those cereals that are fortified with additional vitamins and additional minerals including iodine.
Cereals, particularly whole grain cereals are rich in dietary fibre and hence very filling, this is important during pregnancy as hormonal changes can induce unexpected hunger pangs. Besides the added benefits of minerals and vitamins, fortified cereals can assist pregnant women to add milk to their diet and the benefits that come with it.
Tip: To add fortified cereals to your diet it is first essential to choose the right kind of fortified cereals. Pregnant women should opt for cereals that have a high content of fibre and folic acid and should have low sugar content. The cereals you choose should also contain an optimum balance of carbohydrates which provide the necessary fuel and energy for the body. While it is not expected of one to have cereals for breakfast every day, a bowl of cereals twice or thrice a week should suffice. Cereals can be had plain, adding milk and some toppings of nuts, berries and fruits would really spice things up.
Bananas are one of nature’s greatest gifts and the best food for pregnant lady. A single banana contains over one hundred calories and is a great source of folic acid, vitamin B6, calcium and Potassium. Additionally, bananas are rich in antioxidants and are a fantastic energy booster.
Tip: A pregnant woman can consume three to four bananas per day and effectively deal with the hunger pangs that pregnancy will inevitably induce. A glass of milk accompanied by a single banana is considered a complete meal; you can also whip bananas and milk for a tasty, wholesome smoothie.
4. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes contain Fibre, folic acid, vitamin C and beta-carotene. The compound beta-carotene present in sweet potatoes is particularly important for the unborn baby; beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is very important for the growth, repair and differentiation of cells and tissues; it also helps in restoration of cells and tissues damaged during the process of giving birth.
Tip: Sweet potatoes can be had in various ways; one of the simplest meals is baked sweet potatoes. Simply peel and slice the sweet potatoes as you would while making regular French fries, place on a baking tray and bake for forty-five minutes or until tender. Baked sweet potatoes can be had with a drizzle of olive oil and can also be had with a variety of dips and sauces.
5. Fish Liver Oil
A rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, oils derived from the liver of fishes, mostly from cod (Cod liver oil) are known worldwide for the health benefits that they offer. Fish liver oils are also high in vitamin D, EPA and DHA and play a crucial role in brain development for the unborn child. Fish liver oils can also safeguard against preeclampsia, a potentially fatal pregnancy complication.
Tip: Fish liver oils can be had straight with a spoon or can be taken in the form of capsules. It is recommended to consult your doctor, or an expert nutritionist with regards to dosage, excess intake of fish liver oils could cause certain blood complications.
6. Lean Meat
Iron deficiency while pregnant can lead to tiredness and exhaustion, pregnant women are required to ensure ample iron intake as their bodies require twice the amount of iron to cope with increased blood volume. Lean meats are a rich source iron and proteins; chicken (without skin) is an exceptional source of protein. Beef and pork also provide B vitamins, choline and iron.
Tip: Processed meats and cold cuts should be avoided as they can cause infections. Grilled chicken is an excellent choice for a filling and tasty bite. Steak made from prime cuts like flank steak render themselves as a tender and flavorful meal.
7. Whole Grain Bread
Whole grain bread has more fibre, zinc and iron compared to its white bread counterpart. The additional fibre, iron and zinc are all essential nutrients for a pregnant woman.
Tip: The recommended daily intake of fibre for pregnant women is thirty-five grams or more per day, changing to whole grain bread can easily assist in acquiring the required intake of fibre. A simple vegetable sandwich can easily be prepared at tea time three to four days a week.
8. Nut Butters
Many of us would have fond memories of peanut butter sandwich that we savoured during our school going days. A lot of people are not aware that other nuts can be made into healthy butter too. Almonds, coconut and brazil nut all can be made into a healthy butter that provides the necessary unsaturated fats. The intake of fats is essential for pregnant women as they help them to feel full. Furthermore, fat intake is necessary for proper brain development of the unborn baby.
Tip: The daily intake of nut butter should be restricted to no more than two tablespoons on account of their high caloric value and fat content. A sandwich made quickly and easily from peanut butter, or another nut butter of your choice is an effective and healthy way to tackle unexpected hunger pangs.
The intake of complex carbohydrates is essential for our bodies; even more so for pregnant women. Carbohydrates provide almost instant energy to fuel our day to day activities. Oatmeal is not only a good source of energy but also helps lower cholesterol levels. Additionally oatmeal is also rich in Selenium, calcium, Vitamin B1 and phosphorous.
Tip: The easiest way to incorporate oatmeal into your diet is to boil it with some milk and have when hungry.
Salmon, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and proteins should be seriously considered as a food of choice during pregnancy. Fatty acids such as omega-3 are essential for the development of the nervous system and the brain of the unborn baby.
Tip: The easiest way to incorporate salmon into your diet is to pan sear salmon filet in olive oil sprinkle with salt and pepper and have three times a week.
11. Greek Yoghurt
Pregnant women who do not have an adequate intake of calcium may face further depletion to provide calcium for the baby. Greek yoghurt is the best source of calcium amongst dairy products; as such, it will not only support the mother’s body through the pregnancy but will also help the baby develop strong bones and teeth. Furthermore, the bacteria in greek yoghurt is known to improve digestion.
Tip: Add finely cut tomatoes and cucumber to yoghurt, mix well and have as a quick snack daily if possible.
Broccoli is rich in potassium, iron, folate, vitamin A, C and K. Broccoli is also known to contain antioxidants and to strengthen the immune system. Pregnant women, who consume broccoli frequently, will reduce the chance of their babies being born of low birth weight.
Tip: Cooked broccoli can be added to pasta along with other vegetables and meats to make a tasty and healthy meal.
13. Non-fat Milk
While children are told to have their daily glass of milk for adequate calcium, most adults are deprived of the same. As mentioned above calcium is essential for the growth and development of unborn babies. Non-fat milk will provide the necessary nutrient intake, and the low-fat content would prevent unnecessary weight gain.
Tip: A single glass of milk can fulfil twenty-five to thirty percent of the daily calcium requirement; pregnant women should try and have a glass of non-fat milk daily.
Beans are rich in proteins and fibre, their high potassium and magnesium content is also useful for pregnant women. Beans are known to prevent constipation which is one of the difficulties pregnant women face often.
Tip: Baked beans and bread are good to indulge every once in a while. Cooked beans with rice (Rajma Chawal) are also a tasty option for pregnant women.
Cheese is again a great source of calcium and also contains milk proteins. While some types of cheese are not recommended for pregnant women commercial varieties such as cheddar and mozzarella are perfectly safe.
Tip: Ordering your favourite pizza topped with mozzarella cheese every once in a while is a fun way for a pregnant woman to incorporate cheese into her diet.
The required nutrient intake of women considerably increases during pregnancy. The added nutrients are required both, for the mother’s body to cope with the stresses and strains of pregnancy and to provide the necessary nourishment for the baby developing in the womb. The good news is that the increased nutritional requirements can be easily met with incorporating certain foods; even more exciting is the large variety of foods that can be added for this purpose.
Also Read: What Medicines To Avoid When Pregnant