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Foods to Eat When You're Pregnant
Personal Health

8 Foods to Eat When You're Pregnant

It's only natural to wonder about the best foods to eat when you're pregnant. After all, the foods you choose now can have an important impact on the health of your growing baby. They can also make a big difference for you too, helping you feel more comfortable and energetic. To get more of the nutrients that you and your baby need, be sure to put these foods to eat when you're pregnant at the top of your shopping list:

1. Salmon

The type of fat you consume during pregnancy is especially important. One type that you'll want to focus on are omega-3 fats. These beneficial fats promote the healthy development of your baby's brain and nervous system. Get them from two to three weekly servings of low-mercury, high omega-3 seafood like salmon, crab, and sardines.

2. Carrots

You might have already guessed that vitamin A is important for your growing baby's eyesight, but that's just the beginning. Vitamin A is also essential for the formation of healthy skin and bones. In addition to carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and pumpkin also supply a healthy dose of Vitamin A.

3. Prunes

Anyone who's ever been pregnant knows that constipation can be a real issue. Enter prunes. Along with supplying digestion-friendly fiber, prunes contain a substance called sorbitol that pulls water into your digestive tract, helping things move along naturally. They're also a healthy way to satisfy a sweet tooth. Try adding chopped prunes to yogurt or your morning cereal.

4. Skinless Chicken Breast

Protein provides the raw materials needed to build your baby's bones, tissues, muscles, and organs. It's so important that you'll need 50 percent more of it now than you did before you were expecting. To get the 71 daily grams you require without a lot of extra fat, choose lean protein sources like skinless chicken breasts. Just four ounces deliver a hefty 35 grams of protein.

5. Low-Fat Milk

When you're expecting, milk really does do a body good. In addition to eight grams of high-quality protein, one cup of milk gives you nearly 20 percent of your daily vitamin D and a third of your daily calcium, two nutrients that help build strong, sturdy bones.

6. Leafy Greens

If you're not a milk drinker, you can get still get some of the calcium your body craves from leafy greens like kale, bok choy, and broccoli. These foods also have the added benefit of being rich in folate, a vitamin that's critical for preventing neural tube defects. You can also find calcium in other nondairy foods and drinks such as fortified soy milk, orange juice, tofu, and cereal.

7. Fortified Bran Cereal

During your pregnancy, your blood volume will expand by as much as 50 percent, requiring lots of iron to help build blood cells. However, it can be challenging to get the 27 milligrams you need each day from whole foods. Why not add some iron-fortified whole grains, like bran cereal, to your rotation? Depending on the brand, one serving can deliver nearly a third of the iron you need in a day.

8. Edamame

Edamame could be one of the most perfect pregnancy foods. It supplies protein, fiber, iron, and folate all wrapped up into one neat little package. Plus, it provides choline, a nutrient that fosters the development of a healthy brain and nervous system. Pack half-cup servings in small plastic bags and store them in your freezer to defrost whenever you need a healthy, satisfying snack to grab on the go.

In addition to focusing on what to eat when you're pregnant, you'll also want to know what to drink. The best choice? Water. Aim for at least 10 cups every day to satisfy your body's increased fluid needs.

For more guidance on what to expect during and after pregnancy, use these resources.

Posted in Personal Health

Karen Ansel is a nationally recognized nutrition consultant, speaker, journalist and author. Her work has been featured in Fitness, Shape, Oprah, Weight Watchers, Parade, Woman’s Day, and Women’s Health magazines. She received her Master's of Science in clinical nutrition from New York University. An active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Karen belongs to several dietetic practice groups including Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists, Food and Culinary Professionals, and Nutrition Entrepreneurs.

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*This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute health care advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or physician before making health care decisions.