Healthy Diet For Pregnant Women – What To Eat & Not To Eat

Planning a healthy diet for pregnant women is very important. During the pregnancy period, the women’s body needs extra nutrients, vitamins as well as minerals. It is estimated that an average pregnant woman needs 350-500 extra calories every day during the second and third trimesters. The diet not having enough nutrients might impact negatively the development of the baby. Additionally, poor eating habits plus with excess weight could also enhance the risk of gestational diabetes and the complications during pregnancy. When it comes to a healthy diet for pregnant women, it contains what to eat and what to avoid. This article on the category Diet Plan of the site Nutrition Kit will help you figure out how to plan a healthy diet for pregnant women.

I. Plan A Healthy Diet For Pregnant Women – 12 Super Foods To Eat

1. Sardines

Similar to other oily fish, sardines contain a lot of DHA, which is very important for the development of the brain and central nervous system mature. In reality, sardines are not as contaminated with mercury as other fish. Also, they are good for vitamin D. That is why pregnant women should consume at least two portions of fish each week and one of them should be sardines. 

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2. Legumes

In regard to legumes, they contain peas, lentils, beans, chickpeas, peanuts and soybeans. This group of food are great plant-based sources of protein, fiber, iron, calcium and folate, all of which the body of pregnant women needs more during pregnancy. Folate is very crucial for the general health of both the mom and fetus, particularly during the first trimester. Nonetheless, the majority of pregnant women are not taking enough folate during their pregnancy. As a result, the risk of neural tube defects, not mention to low birth weight, will be increased. Legumes consist of high amount of folate and fiber. Some varieties of legumes are even high in magnesium, iron and potassium.

To build a healthy diet for pregnant women, do not forget adding legumes to your daily menu. 

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3. Sweet Potatoes

Having high content of beta-carotene, sweet potatoes are one of super foods in a healthy diet for pregnant women. Beta-carotene is a plant compound which is converted into vitamin A within the human body. As we know, vitamin A is very essential for the growth and differentiation of the majority of tissues and cells. Also, it is very crucial for the healthy development of the fetus. Those pregnant women had better increase their intake of vitamin A by 10 to 40%. Nonetheless, animal-based sources of vitamin A are not recommended because they may cause toxicity if eaten excessively. Sweet potatoes also have fiber, helping increase fullness, decrease blood sugar spikes and boost digestive health as well as mobility. 

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4. Salmon

This type of fish is very popular in a menu of a healthy diet for pregnant women. It is very high in essential omega-3 fatty acids. In daily diet, most people do not get enough omega-3 from their diet plan. Thus, increase the intake of omega-3 through eating salmon is a good choice. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially necessary during pregnancy, particularly the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. However, pregnant women are advised to control their intake of seafood to just twice per week (less than 340 grams per week) because of the mercury plus with other contaminants in fatty fish.

In addition, salmon is also high in vitamin D, which is important for immune function and bone health.

5. Eggs

Eggs are really a super food which contains somehow almost every essential nutrient of a healthy diet for pregnant women. A large egg consists of high quality protein, fat and 77 calories, in addition to other vitamins and minerals. Moreover, eggs also contain choline which is necessary for different processes within the body, such as the development of brain.

It is shown that more than 90% of people took less than the necessary amount of choline every day. If you do not take enough choline during your pregnancy, then the risk of reduced brain function and neural tube defects will increase. 

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6. Broccoli

Dark, leafy greens, in general, and broccoli, in particular, like spinach and kale, have a lot of nutrients that pregnant women require, such as vitamin A, C, K, iron, calcium, potassium, and folate.

Also, they are rich in antioxidants and plant compounds which are beneficial for the digestion and immune system. Thanks to the high content of fiber, those veggies are also useful for constipation prevention, which is necessary for pregnant women food list. It is shown that consuming leafy, green veggies can also reduce the risk of low birth weight. Hence, to plan a healthy diet for pregnant women, consider broccoli in your daily menu.

7. Lean Meat

Pork, beef, and chicken are great sources of protein, which is important for a diet for pregnant women. Additionally, choline, iron, and other B-vitamins are also found in pork and beef. Iron is necessary for people, particularly pregnant women during the 3rd trimester. The low amount of iron during pregnancy results in deficiency anemia, doubling the risk of low birth weight and premature delivery. 

8. Fish Liver Oil

The oil found in fish’s liver, particularly cod’s, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which are important for eye and brain development. Also, fish liver oil also contains lots of vitamin D that many people do not take enough. Low intake of vitamin D is associated with an increased risk of preeclampsia which is featured by high blood pressure, protein within the urine and swelling of the feet and hands. Taking cod liver oil during your pregnancy may be associated with higher birth weight, not mention to the reduced risk of disease afterwards. But, pregnant women should not consume more than one tablespoon each day of this oil because it may be dangerous to the fetus (causing blood-thinning effects).

9. Berries

Packed with healthy carbs, water, fiber, plant compounds and fiber, berries are high in vitamin C, which can be useful for the human body absorbing iron. Furthermore, vitamin C can improve immune function and skin health as well. Berries are not high in glycemic index value, so they do not cause high blood sugar levels. Taking berries is good because they contain both fiber and water. Also, they supply a significant amount of nutrition and flavor, yet with few calories.

10. Avocados

Despite avocados are not common so much as they have a lot of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, they are still recommended to be added to a healthy diet for pregnant women. Thanks to the high content of folate, potassium, healthy fats, vitamin E, C and K, avocados are a good food for pregnant women. With healthy fats included, avocados are beneficial for healthy skin, brain and fetus’s tissues. Taking enough folate also helps you reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Therefore, there is no reason to not add avocados to your diet plan right now.

11. Greek Yoghurt

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the deficiency of iodine during pregnancy causes mental health problems. Fortunately, yoghurt is a good source of iodine. Even more, it contains a large amount of protein, preventing the condition of low birth weight. Just simply take 140mcg of iodine per day through eating Greek yoghurt (a 150 gram portion of Greek yoghurt offers 50 to 100mcg iodine.

12. Spinach

Your baby needs folate for DNA production and to properly regulate cell metabolism. Spinach contains a large amount of folate. The antioxidants in spinach also help protect the brain tissue of your baby from damage. For pregnant women, take 400mcg of folate each day.

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II. Plan A Healthy Diet For Pregnant Women – 6 Dangerous Foods To Avoid

If in the previous part of this “healthy diet for pregnant women” guide, we introduce top 12 super foods for healthy pregnancy, in this part, we warn 10 out of the most dangerous foods for pregnant women. These foods have been proven to be the most dangerous in regard to pregnancy.

1. Feta Cheese

To make sure that you build a healthy diet for pregnant women, avoid feta cheese, which is a popular form of cheese used in many pastas and salads. However, in case you love cheese, then you should acknowledge what cheese is safe for your baby. Among types of cheese, feta cheese and other unpasteurized and soft cheese have been associated with foodborne ailment. It is shown that the most common foodborne ailment associated with feta cheese is Listeriosis. If you get pregnant, eating foods having Listeria may lead to flu-like signs. If infected with Listeriosis, the risk of getting miscarried, severe illness or premature labor will be increased.

In general, soft cheeses which are safe to eat for pregnant women include:

  • Cottage cheese
  • Mozzarella
  • Cream cheese
  • Ricotta
  • Paneer
  • Goats’ cheese
  • Halloumi

2. High-Mercury Fish

As mentioned above in this entry about healthy diet for pregnant women, mercury is a toxic element and mostly found in polluted water. It could be toxic to the nervous system, kidneys and immune system if taken in higher amounts. Because it is often found in polluted ocean and sea, large fish living in ocean may have a large amount of mercury. Fish having high mercury level include swordfish, shark, Tuna and King mackerel. However, you should acknowledge that not all types of fish are good. You can eat these fish twice per week to provide enough nutrients for your baby.

3. Raw Eggs

Raw eggs could be contaminated with Salmonella which have symptoms such as nausea, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. Do not eat raw eggs, which are often included in lightly scrambled, hollandaise sauce, poached eggs, salad dressings, homemade ice cream. The majority of commercial products have raw eggs, and pregnant women should cook egg thoroughly, used pasteurized eggs.

4. Organ Meat

Being a good source of nutrients such as vitamin A, B12, iron, copper, organ meat seems to be good for those expectant women and their children. Nonetheless, too much animal-based vitamin A can result in vitamin A toxicity, leading to birth defects as well as liver toxicity. That is why women during pregnancy should avoid eating organ meat if they want to build a healthy diet for pregnant women.

5. Caffeine

Caffeine is considered as a common psychoactive substance and majorly found in soft drinks, tea, coffee, and cocoa. According to experts of pregnant women, pregnant women are advised to cut their coffee intake to no more than 200 mg each day (from 2-3 cups of coffee). High caffeine consumption can result in restrict fetal growth, increased low birth weight and type 2 diabetes as well as heart diseases.

6. Alcohol

The last but not least important when it comes to what to avoid to build a healthy diet for pregnant women is alcohol. Pregnant women should entirely avoid alcohol. Just a small amount of this could impact the brain development of your baby. Moreover, alcohol also leads to fetal alcohol syndrome involving heart defects, facial deformities, and mental retardation. Because no amount of alcohol has been said to be safe for pregnant women, you should avoid it completely.

To sum up, what you eat during pregnancy is very important for your health and your baby’s. It also impacts the development of your baby. As nutrient and calorie needs are higher among pregnant women (in compared with normal people), it is crucial for you to choose healthy, nutrient-dense foods. This list of guidelines for a healthy diet for pregnant women should be a good starts for a well-nourished, healthy pregnancy. The health of the pregnant woman and her unborn child had better come first. If you have anything to share with us more after reading the writing today, do not hesitate to leave your comment below!

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