Top 10 Foods to Aid a Healthy Pregnancy
Pregnancy is an exciting time for expectant parents. Painting the nursery, buying the baby clothes and all round preparations for your little bundle of joy. But if you’re a first time mummy or even if you already have children, pregnancy can also be an anxious and confusing time. Your health is imperative and along with that comes knowing what you can and can’t eat. Here are 10 foods you should definitely include in your diet during pregnancy to protect and nurture the growth of your unborn child.
Broccoli is a superfood that should be included in all diets, not just those who are pregnant. It’s high in fibre and packed full of nutrients and vitamins including calcium, folate and vitamins C, A and K. This is particularly good for pregnant women as it is full of antioxidants and the vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron which is particularly important during pregnancy as your body needs twice as much iron as normal.
Greek Natural Yoghurt
As we all know, calcium is good for our bones and teeth which makes it even more important during pregnancy. Getting enough calcium will help with the overall skeletal development of your baby whilst it is growing inside you, although let’s hope he or she isn’t born with teeth! Greek natural yoghurt is a healthy way of increasing your calcium intake. Mix natural yoghurt with fresh fruit and eat for breakfast or as a sweet snack.
Another good source of calcium is cheese. You know that you should stay away from soft cheese but that doesn’t mean all soft cheese. Don’t eat mould-ripened soft cheese including goat’s cheese such as camembert and brie unless it has been cooked and soft blue-veined cheeses such as Danish blue and gorgonzola unless they have been cooked. Some soft cheeses such as mozzarella and feta are safe to eat and of course so is hard cheese. If you enjoy a nibble on some cheddar, don’t be afraid to incorporate this into your diet.
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Getting enough iron into your diet is essential when you are expecting. You’ll have almost 50% more blood in your body than usual meaning you will need more iron to make more haemoglobin. Getting enough iron in your body will also help to fight off fatigue that pregnancy may bring and prevent anaemia which has been associated with premature delivery and low birth weights. Curly kale is a great source of iron and is also a superfood packed full of vitamins and nutrients including vitamins A, C and K as well as beta-carotene, calcium and manganese. Other dark greens such as spinach and darker lettuce leave are also good for you when pregnant as darker leaves indicate a higher level of vitamins.
Another good source of iron for women during pregnancy is red meat. Red meat contains heme iron which is easier for our body to absorb as opposed to non-heme iron which is found in spinach and kale. Avoid liver or anything containing liver such as pâté as it contains unsafe amounts of vitamin A which can be potentially unsafe for your unborn child. Include lean cuts of red meat into your diet for a good source of both iron and protein but make sure all meat is cooked thoroughly with no pink or blood.
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When expecting, protein intake should be increased to help with cell and muscle development for both mum and baby. Eggs are a good source of protein for vegetarians and those that may gain an aversion to meat during pregnancy. As well as being high in protein, eggs also contain more than 12 vitamins and minerals and are a good source of folate which reduces the risk of neural tube defects, choline which promotes the baby’s brain health and omega-3 fats which are important for the brain and vision development of your baby. Make sure that all eggs are thoroughly cooked through and that the egg white and yolk are not soft. For a quick and healthy dinner cook an omelette mixed with fresh spinach and cheese.
Also packed with protein and omega-3 is fish, although it can cause debate on whether pregnant women should eat too much because of the high mercury content. Limit your fish intake to twice a week of which one should be oily such as salmon, mackerel or sardines. Avoid shark, swordfish and marlin and eat no more than two tuna steaks a week. Eating fish is especially important during your third trimester when your baby’s brain growth reaches its peak as DHA, a fatty acid found in fish, is known to increase brain development.
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Other than snacking on fruit and vegetables, when you’re feeling peckish, munch on some popcorn (without the butter). Real popcorn is a wholegrain and although it might not seem like a healthy snack, without the added salt, sugar and butter, it is indeed good for you and baby. It contains fibre, vitamin E, selenium and phytonutrients which protects the development of your baby’s cell membranes.
We should all eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and this is especially important during pregnancy. Fruit and vegetables provide us with much needed vitamins and minerals and are packed full of antioxidants. Bananas are a great snack to have during the early stages of pregnancy as the vitamin B6 helps with morning sickness. They also contain fibre, vitamin C and potassium and will give you a quick release of energy if you are feeling tired.
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Oranges are a great source of vitamin C and are also full of folate and fibre. They are especially good for you when pregnancy leaves you feeling fatigued. The vitamin C helps your body to absorb the much needed iron that you will get from other foods and because they are mostly water, this will help to ensure you are getting enough fluids. Oranges also help to prevent constipation which can often be experienced during pregnancy.
If you are not getting the enough vitamins from the food you eat, you should consider taking a supplement. Earn cashback when you shop for vitamin supplements online at any of the following merchants.
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