The foundation of a healthy pregnancy diet is the same as the average healthy diet which is a balanced mix of lean protein and calcium, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and healthy fats.
The requirement for additional nutrients, vitamins and minerals has to be fulfilled to maintain a healthy diet during pregnancy. A diet lacking in these nutrients may negatively affect the baby’s development. Eating the right food also makes it easier to lose the pregnancy weight after child birth.
A balanced diet is an appropriate blend of all the 5 food groups
Vegetables and legumes
Carbohydrates ( bread and cereals )
Proteins ( lean meat, poultry, fish )
Fats ( dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese )
12 highly nutritious foods to eat when you are pregnant
The additional need for protein and calcium to meet the demands of the growing fetus is best supplied by whole milk and yogurt. Dairy products have two types of proteins:- casein and whey. Dairy is also the best source of calcium, phosphorous, various B vitamins, magnesium and zinc. Greek yogurt is a great source of these nutrients. A good supply of calcium is required for the development of teeth and bones.
Salmon is a very rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help in the development of brain and eyes of the fetus. Salmon is also a rich source of vitamin D, which is often lacking in the diet. Vitamin D is required for healthy bones and teeth and developing a good immune system.
Eggs can be called the ultimate health food as they contain almost every nutrient. Eggs contain protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and choline. It is a great source of choline which is required for the development of brain. A single whole egg contains 113 mg of choline.
Beef, pork and chicken are rich sources of protein. Pork and beef are rich in iron, choline and vitamin B. Iron is an essential mineral required during the third trimester of pregnancy. More oxygen is required as the blood volume keeps increasing and iron is an important component of the haemoglobin formation. Intake of vitamin C increases the absorption of iron.
Fish liver oil
The fish liver oil, mostly from cod is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. These are essential for fetal brain and eye development. Fish liver oil is also rich in vitamin D, which reduces the risk of pre eclampsia. This can an important tonic for women who don’t eat seafood.
This group of food includes lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas and peanuts. Legumes are excellent plant based sources of fibre, protein, iron, foliate and calcium. Folate is a very important vitamin B, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy. Apart from being rich in fibre some varieties also contain iron, magnesium and potassium.
These are a rich source of be a-carotene, which gets converted to vitamin A in the body. Sweet potatoes are also rich in fibre and can replace animal sources go vitamin A. The fibre content also increases fullness, reduces blood sugar and improves digestive health and motility.
Broccoli and leafy vegetables
Broccoli and leafy vegetables contain fibre, Vitamin C, A, K, calcium, iron, folate and potassium. They are also good anti oxidants. They benefit the immune system and digestion.
Berries are packed with water, carbs, vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants. Vitamin C is important for health of skin, immune function and in absorption of iron. They provide nutrition with fewer calories.
Whole grains supply the calorie requirements especially during the second and the third trimesters. They are packed with fibre,B vitamins, magnesium.
Avocados contain a lot of monounsaturated fatty acids. They are also high in fibre, B vitamins (especially folate), vitamin K, potassium, copper, vitamin E and vitamin C. The healthy fats help build the skin, brain and tissues of the fetus, and folate may help prevent neural tube defects. Avocados contain more potassium than bananas.
Dried fruits are generally high in calories, fibre and various vitamins and minerals. One serving of dried fruit can provide a large percentage of the recommended intake of many vitamins and minerals, including folate, iron and potassium. Prunes are rich in fibre, potassium, vitamin K and sorbitol. They are natural laxatives and may be very helpful in relieving constipation. Dates are high in fibre, potassium, iron. Regular date consumption during the third trimester may help facilitate cervical dilation and reduce the need to induce labor. However, candied ones are to be avoided
Blood volume increases to upto 1.5 lts during pregnancy. It’s important to stay hydrated. A daily water intake of upto 2 lts is recommended. Increasing water intake may help relieve constipation and reduce the risk of urinary tract infections, which are common during pregnancy. As a rule of thumb, always drink water when you feel thirsty till you quench your thirst.