Healthy Pregnancy Diet – What to Eat When Pregnant

It is a well-known fact that whatever you eat or don’t eat during pregnancy has a direct effect on your growing baby. Since the little life growing inside of you depends on you for each and every requirement for its development, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are eating right, getting all the necessary nutrients.

List of Best Foods to Eat: Pregnancy Super Foods

Fruits

Fruits and berries are rich in all types of vitamins and minerals, with avocado being one of those most recommended foods for pregnant women due to its high folate content, along with the presence of vitamins C, E, K, as well as minerals like copper and potassium [1]. Adequate folate intake ensures proper nervous system and brain development.

Dry fruits are also highly beneficial, as apart from being rich in iron and protein, these are a great source of dietary fibers that help fight constipation [2].

Fruits to Eat During Pregnancy

Orange

Mango

Avocado

Blueberries

Cantaloupe

Apple

Cherries

Grapefruit Guava
Tangerines Watermelon

Raspberries

Strawberries

Persimmons Dates

Banana

Lemon Kiwi
Pears Coconut and coconut milk

Vegetables, Beans, and Lentils

Green and leafy vegetables like asparagus and spinach are an excellent source of iron, and folate, two of the vital nutrients for pregnant ladies. Vegetables like turnip greens, kale, and broccoli are rich in calcium and vitamin C, while they also offer lots of dietary fibers [3].

Beans are also highly recommended for their folic acid, and fatty acid content, along with iron, magnesium, and potassium [4].

Lentils are a storehouse of folate, thus being a must-add item in your daily diet to prevent neural tube defects. Other nutrients to get from lentils include proteins, iron, and Vitamin B6 [5].

Vegetables to Eat in Pregnancy

Spinach

Fenugreek Kale
Broccoli Green Peas

Sweet Potato

Beetroots

Bell Peppers Brussels sprouts
Turnip Black Beans

Pinto Beans

Soy Beans

Lentils Lettuce
Tomatoes Asparagus

Black Eyed Peas

Tips for Healthy Eating: Fruits and Vegetables
  • Wash your fruits and vegetables as unwashed fresh foods might contain certain microorganisms like coli, Toxoplasma, Listeria, and Salmonella that might live in the soil where the foods grow [16]. Wash them with lukewarm water if possible, and peel them before eating to minimize any risks, as these infections may be life-threatening for the baby.
  • Store cut vegetables and fruits in the freezer or refrigerator, within closed containers [17].

Dairy and Poultry Products

Dairy products are one of the best sources of calcium, while also providing ample amounts of the two high-quality proteins, casein, and whey. Both of these are essential for proper fetal growth, with calcium being vital for proper bone, teeth, and muscle development [6]. Other nutrients present in most dairy items include certain B-complex vitamins, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium. Yogurt is an exceptionally beneficial dairy option for pregnant women to have every day [1]. However, there are certain things, like a few types of cheese that are not safe in pregnancy [7].

Eggs are another food that provides almost all of the nutrients needed for the growing fetus. It is a good source of choline, another B complex vitamin that helps with proper brain development, reducing the risks of brain and neural tube defects (e.g. spina bifida) [8]. But, make sure to avoid raw/half-cooked eggs in things like cookie dough and eggnog, as it might contain salmonella bacteria [9].

Dairy and Poultry to Eat During Pregnancy

Milk

Yogurt

Cottage Cheese

Cream Cheese

Sour Cream

Eggs

Organic Butter (in small amounts)

Fresh and Processed Meat

Most meat products are safe to consume as long as they are cooked properly, as raw or half-cooked meat, and even fish can carry various harmful bacteria like salmonella and Listeria [13]. Cured meats, including sausage, salami, pepperoni, and ham, can also be safe when cooked steaming hot, with no trace of pink in them [14]. This destroys all microorganisms in the meat, keeping you and your baby safe. The same precautions should be taken when you are having items like chicken, turkey, steak, and packaged meatballs [15].

Tip for Healthy Eating: Cooking Meat and Poultry
  • Use a food thermometer to cook veal, lamb, and beef at 145°F, while ground meat and pork should be cooked at 160°F. Poultry should be cooked at a minimum temperature of 165°F [18]

Fish and Seafood

Seafood and fatty fishes are known to contain considerable amounts of mercury and certain other contaminants that are harmful to pregnant women. However, that does not mean that you have to give up eating fish altogether, as they are also a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as proteins and vitamin D [10], with the latter often being deficient in a regular diet as it does not have many natural sources [1].

Experts recommend having low-mercury fishes, like salmon and cod, 2-3 times per week throughout pregnancy [11]. Studies show that women who have 2-3 servings of such fishes every week meet their recommended intake of the two types of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.

Fish and Seafood Safe to Eat during Pregnancy

Salmon

Shrimp Tilapia
Cod Tuna (canned light)

Sardines

Catfish

Hake Flounder

Crab

Scallops Halibut
Crawfish Halibut (1-2 servings)

Haddock

Lobster

Anchovies

Mahi mahi (1 serving/4 oz)

Tips for Healthy Eating: Fish and Seafood
  • Always make sure the fish or seafood is cooked properly so the internal temperature is at least 145°F [19].
  • Fishes high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, and king mackerel, should be avoided altogether [12].

Other Good Foods to Eat While Pregnant

Chocolate

Honey Peanut butter

Peanuts

Tofu

Hummus (especially the homemade variety)

Popcorn

Poppy seeds (moderate amounts) Oatmeal
Clam chowder California rolls

Spam

Mayonnaise (avoid the homemade varieties containing raw eggs)

Whole grains (e.g. pulses, brown rice)

Cereals

References:

  1. http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-foods-to-eat-when-pregnant#section1
  2. https://www.babycenter.in/x25008027/what-are-the-benefits-of-eating-dried-fruits-and-nuts-during-pregnancy
  3. http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/nutrition/15-pregnancy-power-foods1/
  4. https://www.babycenter.com/101_the-10-best-foods-for-pregnancy_10392775.bc
  5. https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/eating-well/week-11/big-nutrition-small-packages.aspx
  6. https://www.babycenter.com/0_calcium-in-your-pregnancy-diet_665.bc
  7. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/milk-dairy-foods.aspx
  8. https://www.thebump.com/a/10-pregnancy-foods-to-eat-for-baby
  9. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/foods-to-avoid-during-pregnancy/
  10. https://www.babycenter.com/0_eating-fish-during-pregnancy-how-to-avoid-mercury-and-still_10319861.bc?showAll=true
  11. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/mercury-levels-in-fish/
  12. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-and-fish/art-20044185
  13. https://www.babycenter.com/0_is-it-safe-to-eat-meat-while-pregnant_10415140.bc
  14. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/food-you-can-eat-during-pregnancy-7-myths-busted/
  15. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/listeria/
  16. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/foods-to-avoid-during-pregnancy/
  17. https://www.babycenter.com/0_foods-and-beverages-to-avoid-during-pregnancy_10348544.bc
  18. https://www.babycenter.com/0_foods-and-beverages-to-avoid-during-pregnancy_10348544.bc
  19. https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/diet/eating-fish-during-pregnancy/