Some may wonder why whole foods are so important for women to consume during pregnancy. There are a few reasons, all of which are related to the health of both the expectant mother and the unborn baby. Consuming whole foods means consuming foods in the most natural form possible.
When this is the case, unhealthy ingredients including preservatives, dyes, artificial sugars, and many others are not being consumed. This leads to overall improved health for the mother and the unborn baby. It also ensures that essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are being consumed.
Without a healthy diet, a pregnant mom runs the risk of many issues including:
- Excessive weight gain that is difficult to lose after birth
- Gestational diabetes
- Complications for the unborn baby
- Birth complications
The Important Nutrients a Pregnant Mom Needs to Consume
While there are many nutrients and minerals that are necessary for a pregnant mom to be healthy and grow a healthy baby, there are some that are more important than others. The ones that are most important and should be consumed regularly each day include:
- Folic acid
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
Each nutrient, mineral, or vitamin listed above can easily be found in whole foods.
Whole Foods For a Healthy Pregnancy
Being a great source of protein, eggs are important in the diet of a pregnant woman. Protein contains amino acids that are essential to the building of cells in both your body and your baby’s body. Protein isn’t the only reason that eggs are important in the diet of a pregnant woman.
Eggs contain many other vitamins and minerals that help with the proper development of the baby’s spinal cord and brain. Other minerals in eggs prevent neural tube defects.
As a versatile food, eggs can be used in many different recipes or simply scrambled and mixed with vegetables. From egg bakes to over-medium fried eggs, there are limitless possibilities with eggs.
Another source of protein, beans also contain high amounts of iron, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, and fatty acids. All of the named nutrients are essential to a pregnant woman’s diet.
Another benefit of beans is that they contain fiber which can prevent or relieve constipation and hemorrhoids.
Easy Ways to Use Beans
- Add them to soup
- Make chili
- Beans with sausage
- Put them on a tostada
- Make refried beans
3. Whole Grains
Whole grains are high in many nutrients including fiber, antioxidant vitamin E, phytonutrients, and the mineral selenium. Together, these nutrients and vitamins protect cells, help with the baby’s development, and help keep the pregnant mother healthy.
Avocados are full of fiber, vitamin B, vitamin K, potassium, copper, vitamin E, and vitamin C. They contain high amounts of monosaturated fats (which are healthy fats) and folate, which are important for a pregnant woman.
The healthy fats of avocado are so important because they help with the development of the baby’s skin, brain, and tissues. They also help prevent neural tube defects.
Another huge benefit is that the potassium contained in an avocado can help relieve leg cramps, which are highly common for pregnant women.
Berries are a quick and easy way for a pregnant woman to increase both her nutrient and water intake. Packed full of water, healthy carbohydrates, vitamin C (which aids with iron absorption), fiber, and antioxidants, a pregnant woman is sure to get a nutrient punch that is essential for skin and immune health.
Other benefits of berries in a pregnant woman’s diet are that they have lots of flavor and nutrients, but are low in calories and have a low glycemic index value. This means that they won’t overload the expecting mom with excessive calories and they also won’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
This vegetable is surprisingly popular amongst pregnant women, but once you know why it is so popular it all makes sense. Cauliflower contains essential minerals such as zinc, phosphorus, and selenium. It also contains fiber and antioxidants, which help keep a pregnant woman feeling her best.
Cauliflower helps a mom stay healthy by improving her immune system, aids in constipation issues, and promotes heart health. It is even more beneficial to the baby as it promotes cell growth in the baby’s body.
7. Skinless chicken breast
Removing the skin from the chicken breast is important because the skin contains high amounts of unhealthy fats. In the chicken breast, a pregnant mom will consume omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin A, iron, zinc, and Selenium. Plus, one cup of chicken breast gives more than 85% of the daily recommended value of protein.
These benefits all allow for healthy bone, organ, and cell development of the baby. It also protects the baby from diabetes, heart problems, and high cholesterol.
Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, and other greens are considered superfoods for pregnant mothers. They are packed full of vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folic acid.
Surprisingly, it is easy to increase the number of greens you consume each day. Some of the easiest ways to eat greens include:
- adding them to smoothies
- chopping them up to add to soup
- mixing into an omelet
- combining them with a stir-fry
- Using them in a salad
9. Sweet potatoes
This vegetable is a great source of vitamin C, folic acid, fiber, and carotenoids, which are plant pigments that are turned into vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are easy to incorporate into a diet by using them as a side dish, an add-in to the main course, or even as a dessert or snack.
This may seem obvious, but a pregnant woman should consume way more water than normal. A pregnant mom can easily become dehydrated, causing headaches, anxiety, tiredness, irritability, reduced memory, constipation, urinary tract infections, and many other issues.
An unborn baby’s brain and eye development depend on omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in high amounts in salmon. Protein and vitamin B are also found in salmon, making it that much healthier for a pregnant woman.
It’s a popular thought that all fish are unsafe for a pregnant woman to consume, but salmon is actually completely safe because it is low in mercury, unlike many other fish. Doctors say that a pregnant woman can safely eat up to 12 ounces of salmon a week.
An expecting mother is supposed to have between 80 and 85 milligrams of vitamin C each day. Oranges are the perfect way to help get to that point by being a juicy, delicious, quick, and easy snack to eat on the go.
In just a quarter cup of peanuts, a pregnant mom consumes 8 grams of protein. They also contain high amounts of iron, magnesium, and vitamin B, all of which will help an expectant mom and her unborn baby stay healthy. They could make a great snack alone or when paired with a fruit.
This healthy fruit is full of healthy carbs, fiber, vitamin B, vitamin C, and potassium. They are an easy snack for on the go, or they can be paid with other food to make a healthy breakfast. Another option for consuming fruits is to use them as a natural sweetener in baked goods.
While being full of essential nutrients and vitamins, squash can keep a pregnant woman feeling full, in a good way, for a long time to hold her over until the next meal. This could be useful for a working pregnant mom, as she may have to go longer between meals during the workday. It contains vitamin B, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and potassium, many of the important nutrients a pregnant woman needs.
Some of the ways you could prepare squash include:
- grilling it
- roasting it
- adding it to stove-top dishes
- adding it to a soup
Eating healthy whole foods during pregnancy is important for the mom’s health and for the baby’s development. When choosing to eat whole foods, a pregnant mom will know for sure that she isn’t consuming any harmful ingredients. Instead, she’ll know for sure that she is consuming nutrients and minerals that a pregnant woman and unborn baby need.
There are many recipes on the internet containing only whole foods, and there are many websites that offer tips and ideas for increasing the amount you consume each day. Choosing a whole foods diet doesn’t have to restrict what you and can’t eat, you just have to learn new ways to prepare and cook it!