7 superfoods to eat when pregnant
You may think that stocking up on your maternity essentials is enough to take care of yourself during pregnancy, but how you look after your body on the inside is just as important. Choosing what to eat when pregnant can be tricky as you want to make healthy choices, but also need to satisfy your cravings and add a little joy to what can be an uncomfortable experience. Nevertheless, good nutrition is vital to keeping you and your little one healthy. By fuelling your body well, you’ll ensure you provide your baby with all the nutrients & vitamins they need to grow healthily and happily.
Professionals recommend including some, if not all, of these 7 pregnancy superfoods in your diet, particularly in your third trimester. So sit back, relax, get a beautiful candle lit, snuggle up in your maternity clothes and explore the foods that will give you and baby that added boost to get through the last few weeks.
Bananas are an amazing source of potassium and made up about 10-12% of your daily intake needs. Potassium helps to prevent pregnancy-related hypertension and keep blood pressure at a normal level, which has also been found to help reduce your risk of developing heart disease, strokes or diabetes later in life.
You must look after yourself - who else is going to wear your mum and baby matching PJs?
2. dried apricots
Sometimes during pregnancy, you have cravings for certain foods or snacks and dried apricots are a healthy choice for when you want something sweet. Pregnant women are advised to up their iron intake to ensure they don’t develop anaemia during pregnancy, which can lead to fatal consequences for your little one. A handful of dried apricots contains around 10% of your daily iron needs.
Apricots also contain vital vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, potassium, calcium and magnesium - all of which keep you healthy during pregnancy. The dried fruit also helps to regulate your digestive process - a common problem during pregnancy - preventing your bowls from becoming slow as the baby develops. Please note that eating an excess of dried apricots can lead to gastric upset, so make sure to eat in moderation.
When you have a little person growing inside of you, it’s very important to eat around 10 extra grams of protein every day. Lentils are an amazing source of protein and are suitable for all diets. During pregnancy, protein helps your baby’s muscles to develop and grow, meaning they’re stronger and healthier – all ready to snuggle into their new sleepsuit.
Many women are advised to up their folic acid intake, this can be done through supplements but it’s much better to get your recommended levels from natural food sources. Half a cup of cooked lentils naturally contains around 25% of your folic acid requirement.
Another benefit of eating lentils is that they help to combat constipation and intestinal disorders as they are rich in fibre - half a cup contains around 8g.
4. sunflower seeds
Just as the name suggests, essential fats are essential, especially when you’re pregnant. The cleaner the source of these fats the better, so getting your recommended fat intake from sunflower seeds or similar will benefit your body. Sunflower seeds are rich in both omega 3 and omega 3 fatty acids, which help your baby’s development and growth – meaning they’ll be happy, healthy and wrapped in a gorgeous blanket in no time.
Sunflower seeds contain around 90% of all vitamins including phytochemicals, protein, minerals, antioxidants and polyunsaturated fats - so they’re an excellent pregnancy food. Phytochemicals help to improve your immune system, which is often weakened during pregnancy as your body is working extra hard to sustain your little one. The seeds are also a great source of phosphorous, which aids the growth & strength of your baby’s bones.
It will help your little bundle of joy sleep soundly in their baby sleeping bag and allow you to sleep worry-free.
5. egg yolks
If you’re looking for a food source that has everything from protein to vitamins, egg yolks are an ideal source. Although the whites contain more protein, it’s the yolks that have choline - an important mineral that aids your baby’s brain development. Egg yolks are also a big source of vitamin D, which helps reduce the risk of preeclampsia and low birth weight in newborns.
Although eggs are often considered a food to avoid during pregnancy, they’re completely safe to eat as long as you consume them in the right way. Undercooked or raw eggs pose dangerous health risks, therefore if you do eat eggs, always ensure they’re well-cooked. Scrambled eggs are a great way to make sure they’re completely cooked through. Be sure to avoid foods which include raw eggs such as mayonnaise and other sauces.
6. sweet potato
One of the main benefits of eating sweet potatoes, aside from their deliciousness, is they help to prevent digestion problems. A common pregnancy issue is constipation, which can often lead to further problems if not treated quickly.
Sweet potatoes are high in fibre and therefore help the body to digest food efficiently. Sweet potatoes also contain vitamin A, which is vital for skin & eye development - although this should be consumed in moderation at the start of your pregnancy as a high intake can sometimes cause issues.
However, the main benefit of sweet potatoes has to be their deliciousness. Even your little one will eventually love them (and probably get it all over their face, chair and baby romper)
Taking care of your little one’s brain development is something that worries all expectant mothers, but with a daily dose of almonds, you can ensure their mind will work as it should. This is because almonds contain vitamin E which helps with cognitive function & development.
Almonds contain a high amount of iron and folic acid, two vital nutrients for keeping your body feeling on top of the world so it stays healthy to sustain your little one as they grow into their baby clothes. They’re also a great source of energy and protein, a healthy option if you feel peckish throughout the day.
As with all foods, be sure to only eat your recommended amount of almonds per day and make sure to buy packaged almonds from the shop as raw, unprocessed almonds can harbour salmonella germs.
For more information on how to fuel your body during pregnancy, nutritional therapist Jodie Abraham shares her tips on what to eat & drink for a healthy body and baby over two journal posts.
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