I think I may have spent half my pregnancy staring into my refrigerator trying to figure out what healthy foods to eat while pregnant.
Half may be an exaggeration but I have to be honest, tacos and noodles (my favorite carbs) were much higher on the food chain than rice cakes and apples.
I was determined to eat healthy because I wanted to be proud of the diet I fed my daughter.
Instead of indulging in every craving, I finally closed the refrigerator and sat down and looked at what I could eat that would be nourishing and energizing. At first, it was intimidating but then it became fun to learn about the nutritional benefits of the food I was eating.
I was hooked and below is a list of foods that have some amazing benefits.
*Many of the foods offer more than one benefit and can be placed in more than one category of benefits. Use this resource to get more details on the nutrient value of specific foods. Also, this list is not all-inclusive. There are more foods in each category that offer similar benefits.
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FOODS WITH FOLATE
Folate is a B vitamin (B9). It is an important vitamin for cell growth and metabolism, especially during pregnancy. Folate is believed to help prevent birth defects in the brain and spinal cord of your baby. It is found in it’s synthetic or man-made form, folic acid, in most prenatal vitamins; however, it can also be found naturally in the foods listed below.
3. Pinto beans
4. Black-eyed peas
FOODS TO HELP WITH HYDRATION
Food with high water content is perfect for helping pregnant women stay hydrated. Dehydration during pregnancy can be dangerous for your baby and yourself. It can affect the fluid in your amniotic sac, the placenta, and the body’s ability to rid itself of waste. Drinking water and these foods can help keep you hydrated.
2. Celery Lettuce
4. Green Peppers
9. Melons (Cantaloupe, Watermelon)
FOODS WITH FIBER
Fiber helps with pushing everything along and can prevent constipation which affects approximately half of all pregnant women. According to The American Pregnancy Association, not all constipation is due to low fiber; iron supplements, hormones, stress and lack of exercise can contribute to constipation. If you know you have a low fiber intake, consider the foods listed below.
1. Black beans
5. Brown rice
6. Dried Figs
8. Sweet potatoes
FOODS WITH POTASSIUM
Having trouble with cramps, ask your doctor about your potassium levels. Potassium helps maintain fluid and electrolyte balance. Remember that sodium-potassium pump from high school biology? If not, check out this resource for more information on potassium during pregnancy.
4. Lima beans
5. White beans
FOODS WITH MAGNESIUM
Magnesium is important for balancing blood sugar levels in the body. According to this source, not having enough magnesium can result in serious conditions like preterm labor, preeclampsia and other serious conditions.
1. Black beans
4. Dark Chocolate
FOODS (& DRINK) WITH ZINC
Zinc helps with cell division and cellular metabolism and there is lots of that happening during pregnancy, so your body and your baby need zinc. Zinc is also important for health and immunity. You can learn more about the importance of zinc in pregnancy here and here. Below is a list of foods with zinc.
2. Meats (chicken, pork, and beef)
4. Hemp seeds
5. Flax seeds
FOODS WITH VITAMIN C
Vitamin C can help you protect you and your baby from infection. It also helps with iron absorption and adequate amounts of iron is necessary to prevent anemia. This source suggests that having an adequate intake of vitamin C benefits bone growth, healthy skin, and tissue repair.
1. Orange Juice
ANTIOXIDANT RICH FOODS
If you want a data-rich article on the importance of antioxidants for pregnancy read this.
FOODS WITH BETA-CAROTENE
The body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A. Vitamin A benefits your baby’s eye, bone, and skin development
4. Sweet potatoes
Each of these foods can help you eat well through your pregnancy and beyond. However, be sure to connect with a nutritionist or your medical prenatal team to find foods that support your individual needs.
Now, you may be wondering what healthy snacks and meals you can create with the foods on this list?
You are in luck! Liesel of @mommy.labornurse has a new pregnancy cookbook that I think you’ll love. I am an affiliate for this cookbook but I honestly think that what you get for the price of this product (currently $19) is amazing!!
**If you are vegetarian or vegan, this resource may not be for you; check it out for yourself before purchasing.
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