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10 Foods Every Pregnant Woman Should Eat

by Dianna Graveman | February 27, 2012 12:00 AM
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10 Foods Every Pregnant Woman Should Eat

Consider enjoying more of these ten foods as part of your diet during pregnancy:

Whole-Grain Bread

Whole-grain bread does a much better job than white bread in supplying you with needed nutrition during pregnancy. Full of iron and zinc, whole-grain bread is also a good source of fiber, as much as two grams per slice. Experts recommend that pregnant women include between 20 and 35 grams of fiber in their daily diets, and whole-grain bread is a quick and easy way to meet that requirement.

Broccoli

Broccoli has lots of calcium, folate, and vitamin B6, as well as plenty of vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron when eaten in combination with iron-rich foods. Pair it with whole wheat pasta or brown rice to get the most benefit from those foods. Broccoli is also fiber-rich and full of antioxidants, which are known to help prevent disease.

Beans and Lentils

Lentils and beans are a great source of protein. Most types have about 15 grams per cup, and since pregnant women need about 60 grams per day (about ten more than before pregnancy), this is a good way to get the required amount. Besides being rich in folate and iron, the high amount of fiber in beans and lentils can help prevent and treat constipation, which can indirectly help prevent the risk of developing hemorrhoids. Just one cup of cooked lentils will provide half of your recommended daily folate intake.

Breakfast Cereal

Not the sugar-coated kind, the vitamin-fortified kind. Your body needs a lot of folate during pregnancy--as much as 400 micrograms per day. Vitamin supplements can help with this, but so can fortified cereal. Some brands provide an entire day's requirement in one bowl. Check the label to see which brands have the highest folate content per serving.

Figs

Figs are the super fruit, with more potassium than bananas, lots of calcium and iron, and more fiber than almost any other fruit or vegetable.

Milk or Yogurt

Drinking more milk during pregnancy makes sense, even though your body will automatically absorb about twice as much calcium from your food without you increasing your intake. But since many women don't get enough calcium even before they are pregnant, drinking nonfat milk can help meet your body's needs. Doctors recommend a daily intake of 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day, and one 8-ounce glass of milk will supply about 30% of that requirement.

If you don't care for milk or are lactose intolerant, consider yogurt, which actually has more calcium than milk. Besides being a good source of protein, yogurt can reduce your risk of getting yeast infections which can be common in pregnancy.

Bananas

Figs may be the super fruit, but bananas have almost as much potassium, which provides energy and can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure. For some pregnant women, they can even curb nausea. And here's an idea: blend them with yogurt, ice, and orange juice, which also is high in vitamin C and potassium, for a healthy, tasty smoothie.

Asparagus

Another food that is very high in folate is asparagus. Grill, roast, steam, or bake it--or use it as a topping for your vegetarian pizza.

Eggs or Meat

Lean meat is another good way to introduce extra iron into your diet. A diet high in iron will help fight fatigue during pregnancy, and the iron in meat is usually absorbed into the body easily and helps fight anemia.

However, if you are a vegetarian or don't like meat, eggs can be an alternative. According to nutritionists, they have plenty of protein and all the amino acids your body needs. Hard-boiled eggs may quick and easy snacks and can be chopped up in salads or mixed with mayonnaise and relish for a great egg-salad sandwich.

If you are a vegan and don't eat meat or meat products, consult your health care provider or a nutritionist to ensure you ingest an adequate amount of iron during pregnancy.

Greens

Leafy green vegetables like spinach have higher levels of folate and iron than the lighter-colored variety like iceberg lettuce. The deeper the green, the higher the vitamin content. Turnips and kale have plenty of calcium, too. If you don't care for the taste or if the cooking smells upset your stomach, consider adding a bit to your sandwich with a slice of tomato.


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