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One of the first things a mother-to-be starts watching, as soon as she sees the two lines on the pregnancy test, is her diet. The quest for required nutrition leads to questions such as: are vegetables good for pregnancy? And the answer to it is a resounding ‘Yes’!
Importance of Vegetables in Pregnancy
During pregnancy, it is important to maintain a healthy diet. For this, you should choose the right kind of food, and eat it in the right quantity and at the right time. Anything unhealthy can cause harm and lead to complications for both the mother and baby. A healthy diet that is rich in vegetables can help avoid complications such as gestational diabetes and nutrition deficiency, as they contain vitamins such as beta carotene, Vitamin C and folic acid, apart from much-needed fibre. Eating vegetables also helps the baby develop a healthy birth weight, reduces the risk of anaemia, controls blood pressure, and leads to healthy weight gain in the mother.
Monitoring food habits during pregnancy is essential because it will help you lose the weight that you gain during pregnancy.
8 Vegetables to Eat During Pregnancy
There are many vegetables that ensure your body continues to receive a perennial supply of nutrients. The list of vegetables to be taken during pregnancy includes:
- Sweet Potatoes – These are excellent sources of Vitamin A, B, and C.
- Beetroot – Beetroots are high in vitamins and fibre. They also help in strengthening the immune system.
- Bell peppers – They are high in vitamins and dietary fibre.
- Broccoli – High in Vitamin C, K, and folate, they also prove beneficial for easing constipation.
- Green peas – They are rich in Vitamin C and K, as well as fibre.
- Dark leafy greens – High in fibre, carotenoids, and folate.
- Parsley – They are high in protein, Vitamin E, and riboflavin.
- Tomatoes – Rich in Vitamin C and K and biotin.
How Many Vegetables Should a Pregnant Woman Have?
It is likely that a pregnant woman can feel more hungry than usual, as she is supplying nutrients to a fast-growing foetus. It is recommended that you have meals in small portions to avoid feeling hungry. Eating small portions frequently also helps relieve digestive problems, which are a common symptom of pregnancy. Avoid consumption of canned vegetables; opt only for those which are in season.
It is recommended that you have 2.5 to 3 cups (about 500 grams) of vegetables in a day. They can be consumed either raw or cooked. Vegetables are a rich source of energy, vitamins, minerals, and fibre. One may take supplements for vitamins, but vegetables cannot be substituted by pills alone, as the need for fibre cannot be fulfilled by a vitamin supplement.
Apart from eating healthy, it is also essential that you exercise and sleep well.
Simple Tips to Add Vegetables to Your Diet
Here are a few methods in which you can incorporate veggies into your diet to make them interesting and tastier:
- Mix and cook vegetables that you like along with the ones that you do not and pour a sauce of your choice.
- If you like spicy food, vegetable curries are your best bet. The level of spice in your food depends on your preferences as spices do not harm the baby; but if you are experiencing heartburn, it is advisable to keep the spice levels low. Tomatoes or spinach pasta are also good options.
- You can try making baked beans with sauce.
- Vegetables can be baked and consumed with a choice of sauce or dip.
- Homemade vegetable soups are also a good option to have more vegetables.
- If chewing vegetables makes you nauseous, try making a soup with carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes, etc. These soups are tasty and nutritious, so include them in your diet.
- There is a huge choice of unusual vegetables such as sweet potato and bok choy available. Give them a shot; who knows, you might just end up liking them. However, make sure you discuss with your gynaecologist before consuming any new food during pregnancy.
- Try uncooked/raw vegetables if you do not like cooked vegetables. Grated carrots, coleslaw (with shredded cabbage and carrots) or raw vegetables with dips are great ways to add vegetables to your diet. However, it is important to remember that unwashed fruits and vegetables may be contaminated by Toxoplasma, a parasite is harmful to both the mother and the baby. Make sure fruits and vegetables are washed well, and preferably peeled before consumption.
- You should remember that during this time, your tastes will change. Hence, trying new vegetables will increase the range of foods in your daily diet.
- To enhance flavours, roast or grill your veggies and season them with herbs and spices such as basil, thyme, coriander and oregano.
- Keep in mind that soft cheese, blue-veined cheese, and mould-ripened cheese may contain listeria, a bacteria which may cause health issues for the unborn baby, so avoid these.
Some Other Foods That You Can Include in Your Pregnancy Diet
Apart from the above vegetables, care should be taken while incorporating different foods into your diet. While there are some to avoid at all costs, the following foods can be beneficial during your pregnancy:
- Dairy products, like yoghurt, are a great choice for having during pregnancy. They help meet protein and calcium needs. Probiotics help reduce complications such as bacterial vaginosis and indigestion.
- Legumes are rich in folate, fibre and a lot of other nutrients. Folate is an essential nutrient for pregnancy, as it helps lowers the risk of birth defects.
- Salmon contains fatty acids DHA and EPA. They are important for the development of the eye and brain in the growing baby. It is also a natural source of Vitamin D.
- Eggs are nutritious and can increase overall nutrient consumption. They contain choline, which is essential for the development of brain health.
- Lean meat is very rich in protein. Beef and pork, which are also rich in iron, choline, and B-vitamins, are important nutrients required during pregnancy.
- Fish or cod liver oil can provide a substantial requirement of omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin A, and Vitamin D. This may be useful for women who do not consume seafood.
- Berries are rich in water, Vitamin C, fibre, carbs antioxidants, vitamins, as well as plant compounds. They may help you increase the water and nutrient intake.
- Foods like whole grains come packed rich in vitamins, fibre and plant compounds.
- Avocados contain high quantities of monounsaturated fatty acids, fibre, folate, and potassium.
- Dried fruits are also very high in nutrients.
While having food that is nutrient-dense is very important, water consumption is equally important.
The food you consume during pregnancy affects your energy and well-being, as well as the health of the baby. So, it is essential that the type of food that you consume be high in nutrients. Vegetables rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre are an essential addition to a pregnancy diet. In addition, they ensure a healthy weight during pregnancy.
Delicious Vegetable Soup Recipe
This soup is nutritious and a great dish to have in-between meals. You can even add your choice of vegetables depending on the flavours you’re craving.
- 1 onion (sliced)
- 1 carrot (sliced)
- 1 sweet potato (sliced)
- 1 cup of French beans
- 1 beetroot (sliced)
- 1/2 cup broccoli (cut into small florets)
- 1/2 cup green peas
- 1 tomato (sliced)
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- Parsley (to garnish)
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
How to Make
- Thoroughly wash all the vegetables and cut them as required. Try and ensure all the vegetables are cut to the same size so they cook at approximately the same time.
- Heat the butter in a pressure cooker, add all the vegetables and sauté for two to three minutes.
- Add 5 cups of water, along with the salt and gently stir.
- Close the lid and pressure cook for one whistle.
- Allow the steam to escape and open the lid.
- Pour into a bowl, garnish with pepper and parsley, and serve.
Now you know which vegetables are safe for consumption during pregnancy, go ahead and add them to your pregnancy diet. However, do check with your doctor if you feel uncomfortable after eating a particular veggie twice or thrice. Your doctor or nutritionist will be able to guide you the best!