Most pregnant women know which foods to avoid. But just because foods aren’t on the forbidden list, does not mean they are smart choices for you and your growing baby.
During your 40 weeks of pregnancy, your body is hard at work and your little one has lots of growing to do. Fuel yourself and your baby with these 6 foods that provide optimal nutrition.
Whole grains. Enriched whole-grain pasta, bread and cereals deliver essential folic acid for your baby's health and development. If you're tired of swapping out the bread in your sandwich, try making whole-grain pasta salads that you can keep in your fridge to eat all week. These can incorporate many of your favorite baby-friendly foods, including blanched green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, tuna or turkey and pasteurized cheeses. A simple dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper is just enough to tie everything together.
Dark, leafy greens. While all vegetables are healthy at any time, a few are a head above the rest. For instance, dark, leafy greens are rich in iron, vitamin A and folate. Make a spinach salad for lunch, or cut up some kale or collards to toss in your soup or pasta.
Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. As with veggies, fruits of all kinds are almost always good for you, but these berries are packed with vitamin C, potassium, folate and fiber to promote health. Try topping your favorite savory salads with some of these berries for a sweet contrast to an old standby.
Beans. If you're tired of lean poultry and beef, try some beans, including black, white, pinto, kidney, garbanzo and lentils. They're packed with protein, fiber, iron, folate, calcium and zinc. Add them to everyday dishes like soups, salads and casseroles.
Eggs. Not only are eggs one of the most cost-effective foods around, but they contain lots of protein, vitamins and minerals, such as choline and lutein, which are strongly recommended for pregnant women. Be sure to fully cook them and always avoid raw eggs. If you're a breakfast-anytime kind of person, a side of refried beans accompanying eggs scrambled with crushed tortilla chips and sliced tomatoes is a nutritious way to mix things up.
Salmon. This fish, like most seafood, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein and B vitamins. Eating 8 to 12 ounces of small fish and shellfish a week—two average meals—is considered healthy and even good for your baby. (The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that pregnant women avoid eating large and older fish with potential for high levels of mercury, particularly swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish.) Cooked salmon over a bed of greens and cucumbers with a creamy dill dressing is a light, yet filling, dinner.
Low-fat yogurt. Pregnant women should be sure to get enough calcium, and low-fat yogurt is a great source that also contains protein. Blend plain, unsweetened yogurt with your favorite fruits and flaxseeds for a major nutrition boost. If you need more sweetener, add a little agave syrup.