Pregnant? Hangry? Looking for a baby-friendly snack? Pregnant women must eat healthy foods.
We’ll stock your pantry with nutritious and tasty foods to give your baby the best start.
Focus on whole foods that provide more of the nutrients you need when not pregnant, such as:
- complex carbs
- fiber, fluids
To meet your nutrient needs while pregnant, try these 13 superfoods.
For your growing baby, you need more protein and calcium during pregnancy. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are required.
Casein and whey are high-quality proteins in dairy products. Dairy has the most calcium, phosphorus, B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc.
Greek yogurt, especially, is rich in calcium. Some varieties contain digestive-health-promoting probiotic bacteria.
Lactose-intolerant people may tolerate probiotic yogurt. Ask your doctor to test it. Yogurt smoothies, parfaits, and lassi await.
2. Legumes include lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, soybeans, and peanuts—all great recipe ingredients.
Pregnant women need more fiber, protein, iron, folate, and calcium, which legumes provide.
Folate is an essential B vitamin (B9), and it’s crucial for you and your baby, especially in the first trimester and before.
Food alone may not provide 600 mcg of folate Trusted Source per day. But legumes and doctor-recommended supplements can get you there.
Fiber is abundant in legumes; some have iron, magnesium, and potassium. Hummus on whole grain toast, black beans in a taco salad, or lentil curry can add legumes to your diet.
Beta carotene, a plant compound that your body converts into vitamin A, is found in sweet potatoes, which are delicious and versatile.
Baby development requires vitamin A. avoid excessive amounts of animal-based vitamin A sources like organ meats, which can cause toxicity. Trusted Source.
Sweet potatoes provide beta-carotene and fiber. Fiber keeps you fuller, lowers blood sugar, and improves digestion (which can help if that pregnancy constipation hits).
Sweet potatoes make excellent avocado toast for breakfast.
Salmon is deliciously smoked on a whole wheat bagel, teriyaki-grilled, or pesto-covered. Salmon is full of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
These are abundant in seafood and help your baby’s brain, eyes, and gestational length.
Have you been advised to limit seafood intake due to mercury and other contaminants in high-mercury fish? Salmon is fine.
Avoid these mercury-rich fish. Trusted Source:
Gulf of Mexico swordfish shark king mackerel marlin bigeye tuna tilefish
Salmon is one of the few natural vitamin D sources most people lack. It supports bone and immune health.
Eggs contain almost every nutrient, making them the perfect health food. A large egg has 80 calories, high-quality protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals.
Pregnant women need choline, which eggs provide. It prevents brain and spine abnormalities in babies.
One whole egg contains 147 milligrams (mg) of Trusted Source of choline, which is close to the recommended daily intake of 450 mg while pregnant (though more studies are being done to determine if that is enough).
These are the healthiest egg-cooking methods. Try spinach-feta wraps or chickpea scramble.
6. Dark greens and broccoli
Unsurprising: Kale, spinach, and broccoli are rich in nutrients. Even if you hate them, they can be hidden in many dishes.
Benefits include fiber, vitamins C, K, and A, calcium, iron, folate, and potassium. Green goodness abounds.
Green vegetables provide vitamins and fiber to prevent constipation. Trusted Source.
Kale eggs Florentine or spinach in a green smoothie won’t be noticeable.
7. Lean meats
Protein-rich lean beef, pork, and chicken. During pregnancy, you need more iron, choline, and B vitamins, which beef and pork provide.
Hemoglobin in red blood cells requires iron. Increased blood volume necessitates more iron, especially in the third trimester.
Iron deficiency anemia during early and mid-pregnancy increases the risk of low birth weight Trusted Source and other complications.
Especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan, more than meals alone may be needed to meet your iron needs. Lean red meat can boost iron intake for those who can.
Hint: Combining iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods like oranges or bell peppers may also improve absorption.
Try this steak, mango salad, or a turkey burger with vitamin C-rich tomato slices.
8. Berries contain water, healthy carbs, vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants.
Berries’ low glycemic index shouldn’t raise blood sugar.
Water and fiber make berries a great snack. They’re tasty and nutritious with few calories.
Blueberries, raspberries, acai, goji, and strawberries are suitable for pregnant women. This blueberry smoothie inspired them.
Whole grains contain fiber, vitamins, and plant compounds. Oats, quinoa, brown rice, wheat berries, and barley replace white bread, pasta, and rice.
Oats and quinoa have protein too. B vitamins, fiber, and magnesium are also lacking in pregnant women.
We love this quinoa and roasted sweet potato bowl, but there are many ways to add whole grains to any meal.
Monounsaturated fatty acids make avocados unusual. They taste buttery and rich, adding depth and creaminess to a dish.
They contain fiber, B vitamins (particularly folate), vitamin K, potassium, copper, vitamin E, and vitamin C.
Avocados are great during pregnancy due to their high folate, potassium, and healthy fat content (and always).
Healthy fats build your baby’s skin, brain, and tissues, and folate may prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida.
Potassium may relieve pregnancy-related leg cramps. Avocados have more potassium than bananas. Trusted Source.
Try them in guacamole, salads, smoothies, whole wheat toast, and as a mayo or sour cream substitute.
11. Dried fruit
Dried fruit is high in calories, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Dried fruit has the same nutrients as fresh fruit but without water and in a smaller size.
Dried fruit provides a large portion of the recommended daily folate, iron, and potassium intake.
Prunes are potassium, vitamin K, and fiber-rich. They can relieve constipation as natural laxatives. Dates are high in fiber, potassium, iron, and plant compounds.
Dried fruit is high in natural sugar. Avoid the sugarier candied varieties.
Dried fruit can boost calorie and nutrient intake, but only one serving is recommended.
Add a small portion to a trail mix with nuts and seeds for a portable protein and fiber snack.
12. Fish liver oil
Fish liver oil comes from oily fish livers, usually cod. EPA and DHA, essential for fetal brain and eye development, are abundant in them.
Fish oil may prevent preterm birth and improve fetal eye development.
Fish liver oil is rich in vitamin D, which many people lack. Those who don’t eat seafood or take omega-3 or vitamin D supplements may benefit.
Fish liver oil (1 tablespoon or 15 milliliters) contains more omega-3, vitamin D, and vitamin A than the recommended daily.
Preformed vitamin A can harm your baby, so limit yourself to one serving per day. Omega-3 can also thin blood.
Salmon, sardines, canned light tuna, and pollock are low-mercury omega-3 sources.
We must stay hydrated—pregnant women. Pregnancy raises blood volume by 45%.
Your body will hydrate your baby, but you may dehydrate if you don’t drink enough.
Mild dehydration causes headaches, anxiety, tiredness, moodiness, and memory loss.
Constipation and urinary tract infections are common during pregnancy. Drinking more water may help.
Pregnant women are advised to drink 80 ounces (2.3 liters) of water daily, and it would help if you had different amounts. Ask your doctor about your needs.
Fruit, vegetables, coffee, and tea also contain water.
Tip: Carry a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated.
Your growing baby is ready to eat all those nutrient-dense whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats from a balanced diet.
Many tasty options provide everything you and your baby need. Tell your doctor about your diet and let them recommend supplements.
This list should start a healthy, well-nourished pregnancy.