During the nine months of pregnancy, it is essential for an expectant mother to get the proper nutrition for the health of her baby. But with morning sickness, pregnancy cravings and food aversions, eating right can be tough. On top of that, many women don't know what to eat. Here is a list of some of the foods that are beneficial to pregnancy, in no particular order. Most are easy on the tummy, even in the first trimester, when morning sickness is at its worst.
1. Avocados and Nuts
Avocados and nuts are great during pregnancy. They are loaded with beneficial fats, which are essential for the baby's brain development. Avocados are also rich in folic acid, which is essential for the development of the baby's nervous system; vitamin B6, which is essential for tissue growth and may help with mom's morning sickness; vitamin C and potassium. These will also pack on the pounds so they are great if morning sickness has mom losing weight.
Eggs are a protein-packed punch that provides a number of benefits for about 90 calories. Eggs contain 12 different vitamins and minerals. Some eggs are even fortified with DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is good for both the mother and baby. Eggs are low in saturated fat, and although they are high in cholesterol, women with normal cholesterol levels can safely consume up to two eggs per day without any issues.
3. Lean Meat
Meat provides a high quality protein source, which is essential for the development of tissues. Choose meat that is at least 95-percent lean, or trim off any visible fat. Beef and pork are good choices because in addition to protein these meats also contain choline, an essential B vitamin. This doesn't mean that chicken or turkey is off limits, as they are naturally lean and low in saturated fat, so they are good choices too.
4. Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy veggies are vitamin powerhouses that pack more nutritional punch than nearly any other food. Plus, they are low in calories, so in the event that excessive weight gain is a problem, they won't pack on the pounds. Green leafy vegetables contain folic acid, iron, vitamin A, and even calcium.
5. Colorful Fruits and Veggies
Colorful fruits and veggies, like carrots, broccoli, red bell peppers, mangos, peaches and more are packed with a wide variety of vitamins that are essential to the growth of an unborn baby. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Dietetic Association, half the food of any meal should be fruits and veggies to ensure that enough vital nutrients are available for baby.
6. Whole Grain
Whole grains have a number of benefits to pregnant women. First, they are fairly gentle on a queasy tummy, so if morning sickness is a problem, whole grain crackers are a great option. They are also a great source of fiber, B vitamins and other minerals. If cholesterol is a concern, there is evidence that suggests that whole grains help reduce cholesterol as well. Here's a fun tidbit: Popcorn is a whole grain, so snack away, just watch the salt.
7. Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils are a great source of protein as well as being rich in fiber. Some of the most unpleasant parts of pregnancy are constipation and hemorrhoids, which are caused when the digestive tract slows down. Beans and lentils can help keep everything running smoothly and relieve some of those symptoms. If gas is a concern, try this. Soak dry beans using any method preferred, then discard the soaking water, most of the gas will go with. If using canned beans be sure to rinse beans well and gas should be kept to a minimum. As the body adapts to the increase in fiber and protein, gas will subside.
8. Dairy Products
Dairy products provide calcium, which is essential to the formation of baby's bones as well as keeping mom's teeth and bones strong. Good sources of calcium include cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese and milk. Many juices come fortified with calcium as well if dairy products pose a problem. Dairy also provides protein and folic acid as well.
Salmon is great during pregnancy, but needs to be consumed with caution. Since salmon is a large, ocean dwelling fish, it does have an increased level of mercury, so consuming more than 12 ounces per week isn't recommended. Salmon is loaded with protein, omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid and even calcium. Eating salmon in raw, sushi form is actually one of the things pregnant women should avoid, so be sure the salmon is fully cooked.
Water may not be a food, but it had to be on this list since it is essential to every cell in the human body, both mother's and baby's. Some people say that drinking tap water isn't safe during pregnancy, but tap water goes through rigorous testing to ensure that it is safe. Often bottled water is not monitored as closely. Should a pregnant woman decide that she prefers bottled water, go for distilled water. The distillation process ensures the purest water possible. Whether tap water or bottle, the important part is making sure that mom gets enough. This will help with a host of pregnancy symptoms including swelling, urinary tract infections and cramping. Mom's doctor can recommend the amount appropriate for her.
This may seem like a lot, but in the end, the healthy baby and mom's quick recovery make it all worth it.