Pregnancy: Eating Healthy for 2 (cont.)

As such, in 2004 the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency warned pregnant women, those looking to get pregnant, nursing mothers, and children, to avoid all seafood high in mercury. This includes larger fish that live longer such as shark, swordfish, King mackerel, and tilefish.

According to the March of Dimes, you can safely consume up to 12 ounces (two average meals) per week of fish that is lower in mercury. This includes shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollack, and catfish. The FDA, however, suggests limiting albacore (white) tuna, and tuna steak to 6 ounces per week. These two contain more mercury than canned light tuna.

In addition, Heller cautions against eating any kind of raw fish during pregnancy -- regardless of the type, since it can "harbor bacteria and parasites that are very dangerous during pregnancy," she tells WebMD.

No. 4: Excessive Caffeine

In moderate amounts caffeine is not likely to be harmful. But experts say there is some concern that in greater amounts beverages or medicines containing high levels of caffeine could pose a problem.

"There isn't anything definitive on caffeine but there is some suggestion it may increase the risk of miscarriage and low birth weight -- plus, it's a mild stimulant and a diuretic, both of which are not ideal during pregnancy," says Aston.

If you can avoid it, she says, that's good. If you can't Ashton says try to limit consumption to about 300 mg daily, the amount found in around 3 cups of coffee.

The March of Dimes also reminds us that sodas (such as Coke, Pepsi, and Mountain Dew) as well as certain medications (such as Anacin) also contain caffeine, so be sure to count them into your daily tally as well.

No. 5: Unpasteurized Cheeses and Lunch Meats

The problem here is a form of food poisoning known as listeriosis. Caused by a bacterium known as Listeria monocytogenes, it can increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, or stillbirth. A newborn baby exposed to Listeria can become seriously ill and die.

This bacteria lurks in foods that are unpasteurized -- particularly soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, blue-veined, queso blanco, queso fresco, or Panela. Listeria can also be found in unpasteurized fruit juices, as well as hot dogs or deli meats such as ham, turkey, salami, or bologna.

Heller says that because pasteurization kills this bacterium, any soft cheese made from pasteurized milk is fine to eat.

While most of the time the label will say if, in fact, the product is pasteurized, Heller tells WebMD that "If you're not sure, don't hesitate, just skip it."

To reduce risks from luncheon meat, hot dogs or deli meats, plunge it in boiling water, or heat until it's steamy hot. This will kill the bacteria.

5 Pregnancy Super Foods You Should Have

  1. All Bran Cereal With Extra Fiber. In research conducted at the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, doctors found that 24 grams of fiber daily reduced risks of preeclampsia (a dangerous form of high blood pressure) by a whopping 51%. Plus, the extra fiber can reduce constipation and help you avoid another common pregnancy problem: hemorrhoids. Most important, many high-fiber cereals are also rich in folic acid. This important to reduce the risk of birth defects. Cereals containing high fiber and 100% of your daily folic acid need include: Kellogg's All Bran, Total Wheat Flakes, Total Corn Flakes, Total Raisin Bran, Product 19, Multigrain Cheerios, and Smart Start.

  2. Orange Juice. Just 2 cups a day can reduce your blood pressure by up to 10 points, according to experts at The Cleveland Clinic. This could be critical if your pressure rises during pregnancy. The high vitamin C count may also help reduce your risk of preeclampsia (see Banana Strawberry Smoothie). If you choose a brand fortified with calcium, such as Minute Maid or Tropicana, you'll be adding an additional nutritional boost. Best of all: Orange juice is the only fruit juice that contains folic acid -- up to 35 micrograms in 6 ounces.

  3. Banana Strawberry Smoothie. This drink is so packed with baby-friendly nutrients it could help reduce pregnancy complications. In a study published in the journal Epidemiology doctors found pregnant women who consumed lots of C-rich foods - such as bananas and strawberries -- had a lower risk of preeclampsia. Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill show women lacking vitamin C during pregnancy may have an increased risk of premature rupture of membranes -- a leading cause of premature birth. Plus, experts say high-calcium foods like yogurt and milk may help control fluid retention which may further decrease your risk of high blood pressure. To make a smoothie: Combine strawberries and bananas with low-fat milk, or yogurt, plus some ice, in a high-speed blender. Blend until creamy and smooth -- and drink up!

  4. Salmon. Although the FDA advises limiting salmon to 12 ounces per week, studies published in the BMJ showed just 6 ounces weekly reduces the risk of premature birth from 7.1% to just 1.9%.

    To help your newborn sleep soundly, try eating more fish during pregnancy. Indeed, research published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed babies of mothers who consumed fatty acids found in fish during their last trimester, had healthier sleep patterns. The key component here is a fatty acid known as DHA, which is abundant in cold-water fish such as salmon.

  5. Low-Fat Yogurt. The obvious pregnancy benefits here include high calcium and high protein -- both important to your developing baby. But these same foods might also help reduce muscle cramping, a sometimes troubling problem during pregnancy. Calcium can also reduce uncomfortable bloating and water retention. In addition, medical literature indicates that, anecdotally, eating yogurt during pregnancy appears to reduce the risk of yeast infections -- another common pregnancy problem.


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