Why read: Wondering what superfoods for pregnancy are and how they benefit your health when expecting? Find all the answers in this article!
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Are you pregnant and looking for a healthy snack to fill your cravings?
First of all, I’d like to give you credit for wanting to include superfoods for pregnancy in your diet.
This might not be easy, especially if you have food aversion in early pregnancy.
I know how it feels!
During my first pregnancy, all I wanted to eat was breadsticks. Those were the only thing that wouldn’t give me nausea.
But don’t worry! It’s OK to have a low appetite in those first months.
What you want to do is turn to foods that are high in nutritious value.
That way – even if you eat a little – you’ll be feeling full for longer stretches of time.
Plus, what’s most important, with a healthy and nutritious diet you’ll be laying a great foundation for your baby’s health and the best start in life. And you can always turn to healthy smoothies or refreshing mocktails for pregnancy.
So let’s check out which superfoods for pregnancy to include in your next grocery shopping list.
What should a pregnant woman eat every day?
First, let’s understand why some foods are labeled as “superfoods”.
The reason is that these foods are nutritionally dense and provide numerous health benefits. They are rich in a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, and healthy fats.
And while a healthy diet is important for everyone it’s doubly so for pregnant women!
When pregnant you need more of certain nutrients.
So when deciding what to eat every day think of foods that are rich in protein, iron, folic acid, iodine, and, of course, calcium.
This is easy to achieve if you follow USDA’s MyPlate eating program.
The message behind MyPlate is that you need to include on your plate a variety of foods from 4 main categories (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein foods), plus a serving of dairy.
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What nutritional content is essential for pregnant women?
Healthy nutrition is of paramount importance for pregnant women!
Foods containing minerals and vitamins are essential for your baby’s growth and development as well as your own health.
Most of the needed minerals and vitamins are available in sufficient amounts in foods that are considered superfoods for pregnancy.
Let’s see what they are:
- Folic acid: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all pregnant women get at least 600 micrograms per day. This reduces the risks of neural tube defects in your baby. Because most women don’t eat enough food rich in folic acid, women of childbearing age are advised to take prenatal vitamins before conception and for at least 3 months into pregnancy.
Note: If you’re not already taking prenatal vitamins that contain enough of recommended daily folic acid, talk to your obgyn asap. And start taking the supplement now!
- Calcium: At least 1000 milligrams should be your target goal. It’s very important for the baby’s bone, teeth, muscle, and nerve development.
- Iron: Iron deficiency is very common among pregnant women and can result in anemia. This in turn increases the risk of premature birth. So aim for at least 27 milligrams of iron every day. Iron is essential for the production of blood to carry oxygen around your baby’s body.
- Vitamin D: It helps with calcium absorption and bone formation. Pregnant women need at least 600 IU daily.
- DHA: An omega 3 fatty acid plays a vital role in your baby’s brain and eye development. Often pregnant women take DHA supplements if not getting enough from food. 200 to 300 milligrams per day is the needed daily intake. Again talk to your ob/gyn to see if you need a DHA supplement.
- Iodine: 290 micrograms per day help your baby’s brain and nervous system development.
What is the importance of superfoods during pregnancy?
While prenatal vitamins can give you – and your baby – an added boost of vitamins and minerals, they shouldn’t replace a well-balanced diet.
Adequate intake of essential nutrients is very important for the health of the mother and the well-being of the baby. These are very important to ensure optimal health of the baby at birth and normal development in the early childhood years. These nutritional requirements, when fulfilled through eating superfoods for pregnancy ensure:
- Normal fetal growth
- Low risk of premature labor
- Increased birth weight
- Better health outcomes during pregnancy.
What superfoods should pregnant women take?
Choose foods that are high in the above-mentioned minerals and vitamins and much more.
These are 12 pregnancy superfoods that you can eat right from the start of the first trimester till the end for high nutritious value and health goals:
1. Lean meat
Proteins and their constituent amino acids are the building blocks in every cell of the human body. Taking lean meat can fill up your body with these building blocks along with satisfying your hunger and stabilizing your blood sugar level.
Aim for at least 75 grams of meat per day. Not only is it high in protein but also is packed with other nutrients like iron. More ideas for high protein snacks for pregnancy.
Iron is essential for a baby’s red blood cell development to increase blood volume, preventing pregnancy anemia.
Opt for skinless chicken and turkey, red meats with 15% or less fat.
Remember to never have raw or undercooked meat during pregnancy! If eating at a restaurant make sure you order your stake well done. For added safety, let the waiter know you’re pregnant and can’t have any raw meat or fish.
This pregnancy superfood is packed with protein, iron, and vitamin B folate or folic acid.
All these nutrients help in your baby’s growth and development along with brain development.
Being high in fiber, lentils keep your digestive system in check and assist in getting rid of pregnancy-related constipation.
Also, lentils are a good substitution for meat if you have meat aversion or are vegetarian.
Calcium is of paramount importance during pregnancy!
Your baby needs calcium for its bone and body development and growth. Spend some time understanding how to get enough calcium when pregnant. You can take dairy products in any form to fill your daily calcium requirements but yogurt is certainly a pregnancy superfood in the dairy category.
Along with calcium, you also get the added benefits of protein and folate. Yogurt also provides healthy bacteria and prevents stomach bacteria from acting. This helps with keeping yeast infections at bay.
Try to consume natural plain yogurt as the flavored ones are high in sugar content which is not ideal for women who suffer from gestational diabetes.
4. Wild salmon
Wild salmon is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for a baby’s brain and body development.
The body cannot make it on its own so you need to have it in form of food or supplement.
It also helps to metabolize important vitamins like E and A and reduce the risk of prenatal depression making it one of the star foods to consume during pregnancy.
Avocados are another great source of healthy fatty acids (including omega-3). Due to the fruit’s low sugar content and a myriad of other essential minerals and vitamins – B, K, C, E, and fiber – don’t hesitate to eat them every day.
Additionally, potassium contained in avocadoes helps relieve leg cramps in pregnant women.
6. Dried fruit
Dried fruits are perfect for snacking. Not only are they filling but also contain large amounts of minerals, vitamins, folate, and iron.
Prunes are a great example of dried fruit that is packed with all the good stuff along with added benefits of fiber and vitamin K. Prunes are natural laxatives and very helpful in relieving constipation due to pregnancy.
Don’t overdo with dried fruits though as they are high in sugar too. Try adding small portions of dry fruit into your daily diet as snacks to counter untimely cravings.
Spinach is a great source of folic acid.
If you are not a fan of the taste of spinach, you can mask it in a fruit and spinach smoothie. Just add and mix all ingredients in a blender and you have your smoothy ready.
Brocolli is high in nutrients that help in the maintenance of blood pressure in the body. It is also a rich source of vitamin A and promotes bone growth in the baby as well as strengthens your baby’s immune system.
Include at least 1 green vegetable or any leafy green in your daily diet when pregnant.
9. Chia seeds
Chia seeds, another superfood for pregnancy packed with omega 3 fats and fiber, have been proven to help prevent pregnancy depression along with the brain development of the baby.
Chia seeds also aid to slow down the absorption of sugar, which will automatically help with gestational diabetes. Add Chia seeds to your diet to get the maximum benefits from this pregnancy superfood.
Eggs are a rich source of amino acids and proteins for you and your baby. They are also enriched in fats that promote brain development and help cope with vision abnormalities.
Hence an egg helps add valuable nutrition to your plate making it an ideal superfood for pregnancy.
11. Pumpkin seeds
This superfood for pregnant women is filled to the brim with iron and magnesium.
Plus, pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acid. By now we know how important omega 3 especially DHA is for your baby’s brain development.
These are also great sources of calcium, magnesium, and folic acid.
Berries are powerhouses of important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
They make perfect healthy snacks and can be added to oatmeal, salads, smoothies, and even ice cream when you crave some. Plus, berries taste really good so it shouldn’t be difficult to eat them daily.
They also provide hydration while remaining low in calories. So make sure you always have these pregnancy superfoods in the fridge!
Although not a food per se, water is essentially important for pregnant women.
Water helps to deliver nutrients to the baby through the blood cells. Try to up your water intake and remain hydrated all the time.
Staying hydrated is essential during the last trimester as dehydration could trigger pre-term labor contractions. Drink enough water to keep your urine diluted as it prevents bladder infections, and keeps constipation away. It also helps to flush out the toxins and excess minerals from your body.
What vegetables are ideal for pregnant women?
All vegetables are a high source of vitamins and fiber along with a myriad of essential nutrients. But some vegetables are more beneficial due to their nutrition-dense nature and mineral content. These are:
- Dark leafy greens – have them on your plate daily as these are high in fiber, carotenoids, and folate.
- Sweet Potatoes and Carrots – are a great source of Vitamin A, B, and C.
- Parsley – high content of protein, Vitamin E, and riboflavin.
- Bell peppers – are high in vitamins and dietary fiber which makes them an ideal food to consume during pregnancy.
- Broccoli – is full of Vitamin C, K, and folate, they are also known to ease constipation.
- Beetroot – is full of vitamins and fiber. They also help in making the immune system stronger.
- Green peas – have a high content of Vitamin C and K, as well as fiber.
- Tomatoes – are very rich in Vitamin C and K and biotin.
What are the superfoods for pregnancy that help With brain development?
Any food rich in omega-3 fatty acids is ideal for your baby’s brain development.
Your baby’s brain development starts in weeks 5 to 7.
During this time eating superfoods for pregnancy that are rich in fatty acids 3 and 6 like soya beans, fish, avocados, spinach, chia, and flax seeds helps with the baby’s brain development as well as keeps it oxygenated.
What are superfood powders?
Superfood powders are food blends that contain veggies and fruit powder. These are nutrition-dense packets full of high antioxidant-rich food made for providing optimal nutrition.
Are superfood powders safe for pregnant women?
When life is too busy many women prefer to get their daily nutritional intake from food powders.
However, when pregnant it’s better to get important nutrients from fresh food.
Although these superfood powders are beneficial in regular circumstances, they might pose a slight risk to a pregnant woman’s health.
Avoid introducing such strong ingredients to your body as they might have side effects for you and your baby. There isn’t enough research on how these powders affect a growing baby. There are some brands that claim their powders are safe for pregnant women but always consult with your ob/gyn even with pregnancy-safe labels. Do your research, study their ingredients and make sure the packet contains what it claims.
But to be honest, to be on the safe side, it’s better to skip taking food powders while pregnant.
Should superfoods For Pregnancy be eaten in a specific trimester?
All three trimesters have their significance for a baby’s development.
In the 1st trimester, there is a lot of nausea, food aversions, and fatigue that can make eating nearly impossible.
Plus, with your hormones surging and causing digestive issues, opt for foods that provide more nutrients and will keep you full longer. First-trimester pregnancy superfoods are those rich in folic acid, protein, calcium, and fatty acids.
During the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, the baby gains weight quickly and parts of its body start forming. Eyes start opening, nails, and hair grow. Support these changes with an adequate amount of the right nutrition. Increase your intake of fish, carrots, dairy, sweet potatoes, and vegetables. Lots and lots of rainbow-colored veggies and foods high in healthy fat!
These play a huge role in a baby’s brain and body development in the third trimester.
No matter what trimester you are in pregnancy superfoods help to provide you with all the nutrition you need for a healthy pregnancy.
With the help of these healthy pregnancy meal ideas, keep your diet healthy and in tune with your body’s needs!
And you’ll be golden!
One Last Thing
Growing a baby inside of you is no easy task. It requires strong health and a lot of energy.
If you don’t already rely on healthy eating this is the best time to switch to healthier food choices. Not only is this important for laying a good foundation for your baby’s health but also for your own benefit.
You are a mom now! Take care of yourself so that you can take care of your little one!
Superfoods for pregnancy are what you need for a healthy and nutritious pregnancy.
Which of these pregnancy superfoods you’ve started incorporating into your recipes? Share with us in the comments!
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- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – Nutrition During Pregnancy
- Nutritional Intake is a Determinant of Maternal & Foetal Health – https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-3016.2012.01308.x
- Increased Energy Requirements During Pregnancy – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235247/
- Protein Requirements During Pregnancy – https://academic.oup.com/epirev/article/32/1/5/492553
- Coletta JM, et al. (2010). Omega-3 fatty acids and pregnancy.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21364848
- Fekete K, et al. (2012). Effect of folate intake on health outcomes in pregnancy: a systematic review and meta-analysis on birth weight, placental weight and length of gestation. DOI:10.1186/1475-2891-11-75