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What are pregnancy superfoods?
Carrying life in the womb is no easy task.
The formation of the fetus is a delicate process and healthy nourishment is necessary to ensure this properly happens.
Every expectant mom wants to hold a healthy baby at the end of the pregnancy term.
There are several vital nutrients for a fetus to develop properly, and generally, a safe pregnancy.
They include; iron, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.
These nutrients are often taken as supplements but what if you want to go the natural way, and get the benefits of other nutrients in between?
We’ve got a treat for you.
These pregnancy superfoods contain most of the vital nutrients making them a superb selection for expectant moms.
1. Leafy Green Vegetables
Some of the best pregnancy vegetables are leafy greens.
The high fiber content in leafy vegetables prevents constipation, a common problem among expectant moms.
These are exceptional sources of folate as well as vitamin A, vitamin K, fiber, vitamin C, calcium, carotenoids, and iron.
The iron reduces the possibility of getting anemia and folate helps with the prevention of neural tube defects.
In addition, they are rich in a variety of antioxidant compounds.
Where to get them: It is advisable to incorporate spinach, collard greens, broccoli and kale into your diet. A great way to increase the amount of greens you’re getting is with a fresh green juice like this Green Goddess blender juice.
Legumes are known for their high levels of magnesium, folate, potassium, protein, iron, fiber, and zinc; thus, they should be a staple food for expectant moms.
These components promote the right development of the fetus and the recommended birth weight of the baby.
Legumes contain 65-90% of the recommended daily intake of folate, which helps in the prevention of neural tube defects.
What’s more, they are rich in fiber which helps reduce or eliminate the occurrence of hemorrhoids and constipation.
For vegetarian mothers, legumes which are rich in proteins can adequately replace beef.
Where to get them: To support the development of your baby, it is advisable that you increase your intake of soybeans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, and beans. These Southwest Black Bean Burgers are a delicious way to get more fibrous and protein rich black beans.
They may have been your favorite ingredient for a healthy breakfast but did you know they are loaded with proteins, vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and choline?
Choline is known for its brain development benefits. It also helps in the prevention of neural tube defects.
This energy dense food also helps to provide the additional calories which are required by pregnant moms.
Eggs provide 65 calories of the 300 extra calories needed by an expectant mom. The rest can be found in other superfoods on the list.
Where to get them: Eggs produced through organic means contain a better quality of nutrients compared to eggs from chickens raised commercially. Always go for the organic kind. Cook your eggs fully before consumption. It helps in avoiding Salmonella poisoning which threatens your life and that of your unborn baby.
Omega-3’s can help an expectant mom can minimize the risk of having a premature baby and reduce the risk of getting Pre-eclampsia.
It also leads to healthy birth weight and assists in the development of the baby’s nervous system, eyes, and brain.
Omega-3 is generally obtained from fish. However, most seafood contains mercury, and thus it is advisable to limit your intake to twice a week.
According to Ireland Food Safety Authority, expectant mothers should not consume predatory fish such as swordfish, tuna, marlin, and shark.
Their level of mercury contamination is very high.
Where to get them: It is recommended that you get Omega-3’s from low mercury fish or other sources. Some of the fish high in Omega-3’s with a low concentration of mercury include herring, sardines, salmon, and anchovies. Salmon is also known for its richness in vitamin D which promotes the immune function and promotes bone health.
Chia seeds are an excellent plant-based source of Omega-3’s, with about 75% of their fat content coming from Omega-3 fatty acids. This Mango Chia Pudding recipe is a delicious way to get your chia seeds in!
This is a favorite staple food for most people and can be quite beneficial to an expectant mom.
Avocados contain healthy nutrients which are necessary for fetal development. These nutrients nourish both the baby and the mom.
They help to combat morning sickness, constipation, leg cramps, and anemia.
Avocados are known for their excellent sources of fiber, niacin, potassium, folate, carotenoids, pantothenic, riboflavin, and monounsaturated fatty acids.
They are also low-glycemic preventing excessive weight gain during pregnancy.
Where to get them: Avocados can be found in just about any supermarket. They are listed as one of the “clean fifteen” vegetables/fruits which means that even their non-organic versions were found to be free of pesticide traces.
6. Dairy Products
Calcium, vitamin D, phosphorous, and protein are all essential nutrients found in dairy products.
These nutrients help the baby develop healthy bones, teeth, heart, and muscles.
Getting pasteurized dairy products is very important for expectant mothers.
Pasteurized means that all pathogens that can cause infection to you and the unborn baby have been killed through ultra-heating methods.
Where to get them: Some of the foods that count as dairy products include, yogurt, milk, and cheese. An excellent choice is Greek yogurt which contains less sodium, less sugar and more protein than regular yogurt.
7. Cereals and Fortified Whole Grains
These are rich in fiber and are recommended for the prevention of hemorrhoids and constipation among expectant moms.
Plus, these cereals are rich in vitamin B, for instance, vitamin B12.
Whole grains contain essential carbohydrates capable of supplying energy that is required during the period of pregnancy.
Additionally, fortified whole grain bread is enriched with folate which aids in the prevention of birth defects such as improper brain and spinal cord formation.
The high iron in these fortified grains and cereals also prevents anemia.
Where to get them: A pregnant woman wanting to have a healthy baby should replace white bread with whole-grain bread. You should also opt for wild or brown rice at your next visit to the grocery store, as well as fortified cereals. Having oatmeal for breakfast is also a great way to get healthy whole grains in. These Matcha Overnight Oats are a super easy prep-ahead breakfast for busy moms-to-be.
Berries such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries should be present in every expectant mom’s diet.
Due to their rich fibrous properties and high water content, they help in the prevention of constipation.
They also contain vitamin C that helps boost immunity and the absorption of iron.
Furthermore, they contain antioxidants which fight inflammation and folic acid which aids in baby development.
In addition, berries contain potassium and healthy carbohydrates which provide great nourishment for the expectant mother.
Where to get them: A Berries are easily available at your local grocery stores or supermarkets. However, when consuming berries, you should always wash them to avoid pesticide contamination that could lead to poisoning. It is also recommended to buy organic berries to help limit any trace pesticide residues. This Superfood Blueberry Smoothie combines multiple foods from this list into one easy and delicious breakfast or snack on the go!
Nuts contain vitamin B and E which are required for the development of the baby’s brain.
Nuts also contain vital minerals such as phosphorus, selenium, potassium and zinc necessary for the development of the fetus.
Best Nuts for Pregnant Women:
- Peanuts: Peanuts are rich in proteins, folate, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin B3 and iron.
- Walnuts: Walnuts contain calcium, selenium, omega-3, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper and manganese. They are great for regulating blood pressure.
- Almonds: Almonds are rich in proteins and vitamin E which helps in promoting healthy birth weight and development of the baby’s skin and hair
- Pistachios: Pistachios contain a considerable amount of fiber and proteins, and are a good source of antioxidants.
Where to get them: Nut butters such as peanut butter or almond butter are an excellent way to add nuts to your diet. Organic brands can get quite pricey, but they are super easy to make at home with one of these top rated Vitamix blenders! These Matcha Pistachio Bliss Balls are a healthy way to boost your nut intake while satisfying your dessert cravings.
Plant seeds are essential in an expectant mom’s diet because they contain calcium, potassium, polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, and magnesium.
They can also be an excellent source of Omega-3’s, healthy fats, and protein.
Best Seeds for Pregnant Women:
- Pumpkin Seeds: Pumpkin seeds contain zinc which is very vital in strengthening the immune system. They also contain tryptophan which changes to melatonin, a sleep hormone that fights insomnia.
- Sunflower Seeds: Sunflower seeds are low in calories and high in certain proteins that make them a great way to fill up without putting on excess weight.
- Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are high in Omega-3’s and pack a punch with over 2 grams of protein per tablespoon!
Where to get them: Seeds make for a great snack on their own or mixed into a trail mix for an on-the-go snack. They are also the perfect topping to add a crunch to a delicious smoothie bowl!
You need to consume adequate nutrients for proper development of the fetus.
Although supplements are available, acquiring the nutrients naturally is always a better option.
Needless to say, a healthy mother is a happy mother, which greatly influences the delivery of a healthy baby.