Being pregnant is one of the best periods of a woman’s life, while also the most challenging. You have lots of doctor appointments, and family advisers all trying to suggest you the foods that are best to fuel you and your growing fetus. It’s not easy to eat healthy as one person, let alone two!
Not sure which nutrients you should focus on? We have this list for you:
Women who are pregnant require around 1,200 to 1,400 milligrams of calcium a day. That’s the equivalent of about 4 cups of milk (one cup of skim milk supplies 300 milligrams of calcium). Not a fan of cow’s milk? Fear not. Milk alternatives like almond milk and soy milk can also provide a solid dose of calcium (about 450 milligrams per cup). Just be sure to look for fortified varieties and shake well before drinking.
Greek yogurt is also a great source of calcium: A 150 grams cup provides about 190 milligrams, plus you get a whopping 15 grams of protein, another crucial nutrient for pregnant women. If you avoid milk in general, you should go for leafy greens, which have good stores of calcium as well as folic acid, a key nutrient for the prevention of birth defects.
A pregnant woman requires around 100 grams of protein each day. That may sound like a big number, but to put it in perspective, a mid size burger contains around 50 grams of protein which is half of your daily need. Vegetarians find it a bit difficult to look for sources of protein, but a combination of pulses, milk, yogurt and nuts should suffice.
Pregnant or not, most of us don’t get enough fiber. But the nutrient is especially important for pregnant women, who may suffer from constipation due to hormonal changes, iron supplements, and pressure on the bowel. To up your fiber intake, focus on foods like wheat bran, whole-wheat products, and fruits and vegetables. Lentils are also rich in fiber and make a great addition to soups and salads.
When it comes to iron, many of us think of spinach and leafy greens. And while these veggies are indeed good sources of the mineral, there’s another iron-containing food that may surprise you: breakfast cereal, which is usually fortified with iron. Other food sources of iron include sardines, dried beans and lentils, and dried fruit.
During pregnancy, choline is particularly important because it aids in your baby’s brain development and helps prevent neural tube defects. Choline is not often found in prenatal supplements so be sure to consume foods rich in choline such as whole eggs, peanuts, meats, poultry, fish, dairy, and green vegetables. Although less popular, liver and lima beans are also good sources of choline.
Two of the most beneficial omega-3s for pregnant women are Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA helps keep your heart and immune system healthy while DHA supports the brain, eyes, and central nervous system. Because mothers are the sole source of DHA for developing babies, it is critical that pregnant and nursing women consume enough omega-3s to ensure proper brain and eye development.
Food sources that are naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids include fortified eggs, walnuts, and fish such as salmon. However, when it comes to fish, it’s important to keep food safety in mind. Women in their childbearing years, as well as pregnant and nursing women, should avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, etc because they contain methyl mercury – a heavy metal that’s toxic to a developing baby’s neurological system. Safe fish choices for pregnant women include salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, and trout.
You can book pregnancy profile tests on here to keep track of your pregnancy.