12 Best Food Diet for Healthy Pregnancy

healthy diet and pregnant women

Between managing a healthy weight gain, dealing with crazy cravings, and trying to keep up with your normal busy schedule, eating well during pregnancy can be a challenge. But loading up on nutritious food is one of the best things you can do for you and your baby.

Pregnancy is the time to look after your diet very carefully! During pregnancy you will have an increased need for energy and nutrients from foods to assist the growth of new tissues and for the increase in your own blood volume, which helps to carry nutrients to the baby and carry waste products away.

Here are the best meals you can take during pregnancy


1 Eggs

Eggs are a great source of protein, a crucial part of your pregnancy diet. The amino acids that make up protein are the building blocks of the cells in your body and your baby’s. Eggs also contain more than a dozen vitamins and minerals, including choline. Choline – which is contained mostly in the yolks, so be sure to include them – helps your baby’s brain and spinal cord develop properly, and helps prevent certain birth defects. Combine eggs with whatever veggies and cheese you have on hand and you’ll have the makings of a frittata. Leftovers – if there are any are perfect for breakfast the next day.


2. Salmon

Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for your baby’s brain development and may even boost your mood. Salmon is an exceptionally good source. Salmon also provides protein and vitamin D, which your baby needs for healthy bones and teeth. Salmon (as well as herring, trout, anchovies, sardines, and shad) is a low-mercury option for the 8 to 12 ounces of seafood pregnant women are encouraged to eat each week.


3. Beans

Beans – including legumes like lentils, peas, and peanuts are a good source of protein and an excellent source of iron, folate, potassium, and magnesium. They’re all important when you’re pregnant. Beans are also a great food for fiber, which can help prevent and relieve two common pregnancy discomforts: constipation and hemorrhoids. Try tossing edamame (cooked soybeans, which are also an excellent source of essential fatty acids) in soups, salads, or stir-fries. Or snack on roasted edamame.


4. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes get their orange color from carotenoids, plant pigments that are converted to vitamin A in our bodies. Your baby needs vitamin A for healthy bones, lungs, eyes, and skin development. This sweet veggie is also a very good source of vitamin C and manganese, and a good source of vitamin B6 (which may help with morning sickness), potassium, and fiber (especially if you keep the skin on).


5. Whole grains

Whole grains are high in fiber and nutrients, including B vitamins, iron, folic acid (if fortified), magnesium, the antioxidant vitamin E, and the mineral selenium. They also contain phytonutrients, plant compounds that protect cells. Trade white bread for whole grain, and sample different kinds of whole grains from barley and buckwheat to oats in your pregnancy diet.


6. Walnuts

Walnuts are one of the richest sources of plant-based omega-3s. They’re also a good source of magnesium, fiber, and protein (which you need more of now that you’re pregnant). Grab a handful of walnuts for an on-the-run snack, or toss some into a salad. Check out other nuts, like almonds and pistachios, and nut and seed butters, like tahini, for similar benefits.


7. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt typically has twice the protein of regular yogurt. Plus, it’s a great source of probiotics, B vitamins, phosphorus, and calcium. Calcium helps keep your own bones strong and helps your baby develop a healthy skeleton. Yogurt is a versatile breakfast ingredient and a wonderful addition to savory dishes too. Drinking milk is another good way to get calcium every day.


8. Broccoli and dark leafy greens

Broccoli and dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are prenatal superfoods, loaded with vitamins and nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium, iron, and folate. They’re also rich in antioxidants and fiber, which can ease constipation.
It’s easy to up the amount of dark leafy greens in your diet. Just chop the greens coarsely and toss into smoothies, soups, omelets, or stir-fries.


9. Lean meats and poultry

Meat is an excellent source of high-quality protein and a good source of B vitamins, iron, and zinc. Iron delivers oxygen to the cells in your body, and you need more of it during pregnancy. Look for cuts that are around 95 to 98 percent fat-free. Skip deli meats and hot dogs, though, unless they’re heated until steaming hot. There’s a small risk of infection from bacteria and parasites such as listeria, toxoplasma, or salmonella, which can be dangerous during pregnancy for you and your baby.


10. Colorful fruits and veggies

Eating plenty of green, red, orange, yellow, and purple fruits and vegetables helps you and your baby get a variety of nutrients. Each color group provides different vitamins and minerals. Bell peppers, for example, are high in vitamin C (which will help you absorb iron), while berries are bursting with antioxidants. Salads are an easy way to combine colorful fruits and veggies.


11. Avocados

Avocados are high in monounsaturated fatty acids (the healthy fats), which help build your baby’s skin and brain. They’re also high in vitamin K, antioxidants, and folate, which helps prevent certain birth defects. Plagued by leg cramps? The potassium in avocados might help. Constipated? The fiber content is an antidote. Suffering from morning sickness? The vitamin B6 in avocados which is also good for your baby’s developing brain can help ease nausea. Avocados deliver a lot of flavor, creamy texture, and nutrition. Try spreading on whole-grain toast, or add to salads and smoothies.


12. Dried fruit

Portable and nutrient dense, dried fruit offers a good occasional alternative to the fresh fruit that’s so important in your pregnancy diet. Look for dried fruit without added sugar. Depending on the dried fruit you choose, you’ll boost your diet with a variety of vitamins and minerals (like iron), as well as antioxidants and fiber. Prunes, for example, are a tried-and-true remedy for the constipation that plagues so many pregnant women.


13. Tips for a healthy pregnancy diet

During pregnancy you need lots of protein and healthy fats, and more of certain vitamins and minerals (such as folic acid, iron, and calcium). See our list of nutrients you need to help your baby grow. Eating well during pregnancy doesn’t mean eating a lot more. If you start off at a healthy weight, you don’t need additional calories during the first trimester. You’ll need about 340 extra calories a day in the second trimester and about 450 extra calories a day in the third trimester.

Learn more about pregnancy weight gain. Some foods can be dangerous when you’re pregnant. See what to avoid. (You’ll also need to give up alcohol and limit caffeine during pregnancy.) Healthy pregnancy snacks are where it’s at! Choose snacks that help meet your nutritional needs, and cut back on processed foods, packaged foods, and sugary desserts. If nausea, food aversions, heartburn, or indigestion make eating full-size meals uncomfortable, try eating small, frequent meals throughout the day. As your pregnancy progresses and your baby increasingly crowds your stomach and other digestive organs, you’ll have less space in your body for big meals anyway.
Looking for more specifics? Create a pregnancy meal plan that will help you get exactly what you need from your pregnancy diet.

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