The best foods to eat while pregnant are those high in vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, and iron. Vitamin C boosts the body’s immune system and aids the absorption of iron when eaten along with iron-rich foods. Folic acid, especially when taken in early pregnancy, guards against neural tube defects. Calcium helps a baby grow strong bones, teeth, muscles, heart, and nerves. If a pregnant woman does not get extra calcium, her body will raid her bones for the essential mineral, possibly leading to health problems later on. Iron prevents anemia due to the increased volume of blood that the body makes to support the pregnancy. Without enough iron, the body is unable to manufacture hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying cells in the blood. Prenatal vitamins provide a lot of essential vitamins and minerals, but food is a superior source for nutrients. Below are the 10 best foods to eat while pregnant.
1. Broccoli. High in vitamin C, folic acid, and calcium, broccoli is one of the best foods for pregnancy. It is also high in fiber and anti-oxidants. Eat broccoli with an iron-rich food for a near perfect meal.
2. Breakfast cereal. Eating a fortified cereal for breakfast gives your body a boost of folic acid and iron. The vitamins and minerals in fortified cereals are essentially supplements, however, so other foods that naturally contain vital nutrients must be eaten as well.
3. Beans and lentils. Half of a pregnant woman’s daily requirement of folic acid can be met by simply eating one cup of lentils.
Beans and lentils are also high in fiber, which keeps the digestive system regular. One cup of beans or lentils also contains 15 grams of protein, essential for muscle-building. Make a habit of having beans or lentils several times a week to keep the entire family healthy.
4. Milk. Vitamin D fortified milk provides essential calcium. Eight ounces of milk provides nearly 1/3 the daily requirement of calcium. Milk also provides protein, an essential building block for babies’ bodies. A glass of milk with each meal is an easy way to get almost all the needed calcium for the day.
5. Bananas. High in potassium, bananas are great to fight off fatigue. They are also good to eat when nauseated because they are easy to digest. Bananas are a great way for a woman battling morning sickness to obtain nutrients.
6. Meat. Eat meat each day for a boost of iron. Make it lean meat such as chicken, sirloin beef, or lean pork to keep fat intake low.
7. Hard cheeses. Mozzarella, cheddar, and other hard cheeses are yet another way to get that elusive mineral calcium. Cheese is also high in protein. A slice of cheese melted on whole wheat toast makes a delicious and nutritious snack.
8. Eggs. Eggs contain all of the amino acids (building blocks of protein) the body requires. Have a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs and cheese, or chop up an egg and add it to a salad for an effortless way to eat healthy.
9. Green leafy vegetables. Spinach is high in folate and iron, turnip greens and kale are high in calcium. As a rule, the darker the green, the higher in nutrients. Cook up some greens or toss some raw spinach in a salad for a nutritious lunch.
10. Dried fruit. Dried fruits are high in iron, and are portable, quick snacks. Keep a small bag of dried fruit in your bag to keep your blood sugar level and fight off the munchies.
When a woman is pregnant, she must eat foods to support not only her health, but the health of her growing baby as well. Eating nutrient-rich foods ensure a woman’s body will have everything she needs to support a growing baby while keeping herself healthy.