Eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet during pregnancy is essential for keeping you and your baby healthy. According to recommendations from the CDC, pregnant women within an average weight range should gain approximately 25-35 lbs (11.5-16 kg) during pregnancy.
In order to promote the healthy growth of the baby, pregnant women should eat a diet rich in the following nutrients:
12 super nutritious foods to eat when pregnant
Legumes are good plant-based sources of fiber, protein, iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Folate is one of the most essential B vitamins (B9) for pregnant women, especially before conceiving and during the first trimester. Examples of legumes include kidney beans, lima beans, chickpeas, soybeans, peanuts, and peas.
When you are pregnant, you need more protein and calcium in your diet to meet the needs of your growing baby. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt contain two types of high-quality protein—casein and whey. Dairy products are also the best dietary sources of calcium and provide a high amount of phosphorus, B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc. Moreover, probiotic bacteria found in some of the varieties of Greek yogurt support digestive health, which is important during pregnancy.
3. Leafy greens
Broccoli, brussels sprouts, and other green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach are packed with vital nutrients such as fiber; vitamins C, K and A; calcium; iron; folate; and potassium. This helps prevent and relieve constipation and may also reduce the risk of low birth weight.
4. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body and essential for fetal development. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of fiber, which improves digestive health and keeps you feeling full for longer.
5. Fatty fish
Fatty fish such as salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help build the brain and eyes of your baby. Salmon is also a great source of vitamin D, which plays a role in immune function and bone health. However, avoid fish that are high in mercury, such as king mackerel, swordfish, marlin, and bigeye tuna.
Eggs are packed with high-quality protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. One egg contains 147 mg of choline, a vital nutrient that plays a role in fetal brain development and helps prevent developmental abnormalities of the brain and spine.
7. Lean proteins
Chicken, lean beef, and lean pork are excellent sources of high-quality proteins, iron, choline, and other B vitamins. Iron is an essential mineral that your body uses to form hemoglobin and meet the increasing demand for blood volume during pregnancy. Low levels of iron during pregnancy can cause iron deficiency anemia, which increases the risk of low birth weight and other complications.
8. Whole grains
Whole grains such as brown rice, barley, and whole wheat bread are packed with fiber, vitamins, and other phytochemicals (plant compounds) that are beneficial for pregnancy health.
Berries are rich in water, healthy carbs, vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. Since they have a relatively low glycemic index value, they do not cause high spikes in blood sugar. They are also low in calories and make good snacks. Good examples of berries to include in your diet during pregnancy include blueberries, raspberries, goji berries, strawberries, and acai berries.
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and high in fiber and B vitamins, especially folate, vitamin K, potassium, copper, vitamins E, and C. Healthy fats such as monounsaturated fatty acids help prevent neural tube defects and developmental abnormalities of the brain and spine.
11. Fish liver oil
Cod liver oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are essential for fetal brain and eye development.
Staying hydrated is essential when you are pregnant in order to support your growing baby, relieve constipation, and reduce the risk of urinary tract infections. The recommended water intake for pregnant women is approximately 80 ounces (2.3 liters) a day.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Katherine Kam. 6 Must-Eat Foods for Pregnancy. WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/baby/features/must-eat-foods-pregnancy
What to eat when pregnant .UNICEF: https://www.unicef.org/parenting/what-to-eat-when-pregnant
How to eat well in pregnancy. Tommy’s: https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/nutrition-in-pregnancy/balanced-diet-pregnancy
Top What Must Pregnant Women Eat Related Articles
What Happens If You Eat Raw Foods When You Are Pregnant?Consuming raw foods during pregnancy could result in certain infections that may lead to miscarriages, premature labor, and birth defects.
What Foods Should Be Avoided During the First Trimester of Pregnancy?The first trimester is the first 3 months of your pregnancy. Foods to avoid during the third trimester of pregnancy include raw or undercooked seafood; seafood containing mercury; raw or undercooked eggs; unpasteurized milk or other dairy products; raw sprouts and unwashed vegetables and fruits.
Is Cervical Stitch Safe During Pregnancy?Cervical stitch, or cervical cerclage, is safe during pregnancy up to 24 weeks. Find out why and how it’s done, as well as the risks associated with the procedure.
What Are the Most Common Pregnancy Cravings?Learn about pregnancy cravings, what they are, the most common foods pregnant women crave such as pickles and ice cream, why they happen, and what they mean.
Pregnancy Myths and Facts QuizBeing pregnant is a delicate time for both mother and baby. Take this pregnancy myths and facts quiz to separate the myths and facts about being pregnant, and learn the truth behind healthy pregnancies!
What Vitamins and Supplements Should I Take to Increase Fertility?What to know about fertility and increase chances of getting pregnant. Learn how the benefits of folic acid, B12, zinc, and other vitamins and supplements can help.
Pregnancy Diet (Menu Plans)When a woman is pregnant, she needs more vitamins, minerals, and other foods in her diet to stay healthy and deliver a healthy baby. A healthy pregnancy diet menu plan should consist of lots of fruits, vegetables, lean meats (unless you are vegan or vegetarian), and dairy. Examples of healthy pregnancy diet meal plans include holistic pregnancy diet, vegan or vegetarian diet, and low-carb diets. Begin your healthy eating plan around three months before you begin trying to conceive, and follow the same eating plan until after you have stopped breastfeeding. If you are overweight or obese, being pregnant is not the right time to try to lose weight. Discuss your options with your health care professional.
What Foods Should I Eat During My First Trimester of Pregnancy?What to know about diet during the first trimester. Learn more about how to protect and fuel your body and baby during this exciting time.
What Vitamins and Supplements Should I Take During Pregnancy?Even if you eat a variety of nutritious foods, you may need to take pregnancy vitamins and supplements. This is especially true if you have a restricted diet, are pregnant with twins or multiples, have food allergies, or nutrient deficiencies. Talk to your doctor about your needs.
What Should I Eat Every Day When I Am Pregnant?What should you eat as your body changes through pregnancy? Learn more about how to nourish yourself and your baby’s diet on a daily basis.