You're growing a baby. While you may want nothing more than to stuff your face with potato chips and ice-cream (or nothing if you are experiencing the much-dreaded morning sickness), now is the time when you should be thinking about what you put in your mouth more than ever. Everything you eat not only affects you, it impacts your baby's growth and development. While there are tons of excellent foods for you to choose from over the next several months, here is a list of ten powerful pregnancy super foods to ensure that you and baby are getting the nutrients you really need.
Beans are a powerhouse of fiber and protein - the perfect pregnancy combo. Fiber is important because it can help ease any gastrointestinal slow-downs you may face from all of those hormones (constipation and hemorrhoids, anyone?) and protein is what will help you sustain energy and feel full longer. Not to mention that the amino acids in protein are what help us grow healthy cells. There are so many beans to choose from, you are sure to come across at least one variety you enjoy. Try them in soups, salads, or burritos.
Eggs contain a wide variety of essential vitamins and minerals and like beans, they are a powerhouse for protein. Eggs also contain choline, an essential nutrient that can positively impact baby's brain development. Throw some diced hard-boiled eggs in your favorite salad or start your day off with a fried egg on toast (add avocado for an extra super food punch). Just make sure that you always eat your eggs fully cooked during your pregnancy to avoid exposure to salmonella.
Guacamole, anyone? Some people think of avocado as being a fattening fruit, but the truth is that it is a fruit full of very healthy mono-unsaturated "good" fats. Avocado also contains fiber, potassium, folic acid, and several other vitamins, like Vitamin C and B6.
High in protein and containing more calcium than milk (which even your unborn-born baby needs to grow strong bones and teeth), yogurt is an excellent snack choice during pregnancy. When shopping for yogurt, make sure that you read the labels and choose varieties that are low in sugar. You can also opt to buy Greek yogurt for even more beneficial protein.
Try a Super Food Smoothie
Smoothies are a great way to pack in several pregnancy super foods into a fast, healthy breakfast option. Try this combo next time you've got the blender out. Don't worry about measurements, just make sure you add enough liquid to get it blended well.
- Plain Greek Yogurt
- Frozen mixed berries
- A couple tablespoons of peanut butter
- Orange juice
5. Leafy Greens
We're talking deep greens like spinach and kale for the ultimate source of fiber, folic acid, and iron. If salads just aren't appealing to you this pregnancy, think beyond that! Saute some spinach or kale with a little bit of olive oil and garlic and serve under a piece of chicken or salmon. Or for the ultimate leafy green disguise, blend a handful into your favorite smoothie - we swear you won't even notice it!
While certain types of fish (swordfish, king mackerel, shark) should be avoided while pregnant due to high levels of mercury, salmon is not one of them. Salmon is obviously an excellent source of healthy protein, but also contains Omega-3 fatty acids that are good for baby's eyes and brain. You can safely enjoy up to 12-ounces of low-mercury fish, like salmon, each week during your pregnancy.
7. Citrus Fruits
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is crucial to our health and wellness and that of growing babies. Citrus fruits, which are notoriously high in Vitamin C, help our bodies fight infection and promote healing and bone and cell growth. Grab an orange for a healthy snack on-the-go or drink a glass of low-sugar orange juice with your breakfast. Other citrus options include grapefruit (try it with honey drizzled on top) or water with fresh lemon squeezed in.
Healthy fats, like the unsaturated fats found in nuts, can keep you feeling full longer while aiding in your baby's brain development. A handful of nuts make up the perfect powerhouse pregnancy snack. Or, try a tablespoon of your favorite nut butter with some celery or apple slices.
Try Roasting Your Own Nuts!
If plain nuts just don't get you excited, try roasting up your own treat! Take your favorite plain nuts (we love almonds and pecans) and toss them with honey, maple syrup, cinnamon, and even a dash of cayenne. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 325 for a sweet snack that's still healthy.
Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries... all of these delicious fruits are packed with fiber, potassium, folate, and Vitamin C. Add a handful to your stack of pancakes or cereal in the morning or try buying a bag of frozen berries to add to smoothies and milkshakes. They're delicious and nutritious!
Often considered a whole grain, quinoa is actually a seed with enough essential amino acids to make it a complete protein. Pretty special, huh? It cooks up like rice, only faster, and has that added protein punch found in meat. This makes it an excellent dietary addition for vegan and vegetarian mommas-to-be. Quinoa can be served up hot in a casserole or stir-fry, or it tastes excellent as a cold salad (or tossed in with some leafy greens). If you haven't already, give it a try!