Are you wondering, what is the healthy pregnancy food that you should eat? Or pregnancy food to avoid?
We understand your concern and have come up with the list of healthy pregnancy food.
First, I will start with, eating during pregnancy is not about eating more or less but it is more about what your body needs for baby’s growth. For the baby’s ideal growth and development, mostly normal-weight women need, some 1,800 calories a day during her first trimester.
While during the second trimester you need 2,200 calories a day and during the third trimester, you require 2,400 calories a day.
I would like to start with the nutritional requirements during pregnancy. Then, my next topic would be the importance of nutrition during pregnancy to give you a better understanding, why you should focus on the intake of nutrition.
Nutritional Requirements During Pregnancy
Let’s not waste time and directly discuss, what nutrition you should take during pregnancy. According to the American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, these are the essential nutrients:
Iron helps you to make additional blood that is crucial during pregnancy, with that a pregnant women need 27 mg iron a day. For the intake of iron in your diet you can simply eat iron riched food, these are:
- Enriched breakfast cereals
Here, choline is essential for the development of the brain of the fetus. Not only this, but it also deters off several common birth defects. According to the experts, you should take 450mg choline a day, if you are pregnant, the intake of choline is essential as the amount of choline produce by your body is not enough during this phase. Above all, you won’t find the same in your prenatal vitamins. Here are some food that contains choline,
- Soy products
3. Folic acid or folate
It is a B vitamin that is crucial for pregnant women as it has several benefits like it conserves the baby from the birth defects of the brain of the fetus and spine, which is termed as neural tube defects. Additionally, being pregnant you need 600mcg of folic acid a day, which you get from food and prenatal vitamins.
Calcium is the need for the development of bones and teeth of the fetus. The requirement of calcium depends on your age, for an instant, if you are 18 years old or younger, you need 1,300 mg of calcium a day. On the other hand, if you are 19 or above, you need 1,000mg of calcium a day.
Now comes the major question, what is the healthy pregnancy food which provides calcium, some of these are:
- Fortified food
5. Omega-3 fatty acids
You can find omega-3 fatty acids in several kinds of fish. It might be essential for the development of the brain before and after pregnancy. During pregnancy, you need at least 2 servings of fish or shellfish a week. Also, serving should be of 8-12 ounces.
With that, do not eat fishes with a high level of mercury which results in birth defects. I’m mentioning some fish that you should not eat:
6. Vitamin D
Like calcium, vitamin D also helps in the development of the bones and teeth of the fetus. But it is also ideal for eyesight and healthy skin. Either you are pregnant or not, you need 600 international units of vitamin D per day. For this, you can eat,
- Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel
- Egg yolk
- Breakfast cereal
- Fortified milk
7. Vitamin C
For the healthy immune system, strong bones and muscles, you need vitamin C in your diet. During this phase, if you are above 19 you need a minimum of 85 mg of vitamin C a day. However, if you are below 19 you require 80 mg of vitamin C each day.
You can eat,
- Tomatoes citrus fruits and juices
8. B vitamins
B vitamins contain all the crucial nutrients which you need during pregnancy, such as B1, B2, B6, B9, and B12. It has various benefits such as it provide energy for the development of the fetus, provide you energy too, develop the placenta, and promote the good vision. To get the B vitamins, you can eat:
- Whole grains cereals and bread
Like many of the other nutrients that I have mentioned, iodine also helps in the development of the brain.
Here are the sources of iodine:
- Iodized salt
Also Read: 7 Personal Hygiene Tips
Importance of Nutrition During Pregnancy
According to Stanford Children’s Organisation, you require an additional 300 calories a day for a healthy pregnancy. Well, that does not mean you can eat anything to fulfill the requirements of the calories needed.
To complete the requirement, you should take a healthy diet which consists of vegetables, fruits, proteins, and whole grains. Further, it does not restrict the intake of a balanced diet but it also includes the right fluid intake. Here, these fluids include water, soups, and juices.
All this will help you to:
- Meet the demand of the body
- Support the growth and development of the fetus
- Maintain healthy weight gain
- Helps in the further development of the baby
- Lessen the chances of C-section
Now, you must be wondering, what is the healthy pregnancy food that should eat, right? No worries, my next is the same.
17 Healthy Pregnancy Food to Eat
1. Legumes or beans
If I have to refer something full of nutrients, vitamins, and dietary fibers, then legumes contain hundreds of them. Most importantly, it is crucial for the baby’s growth and development. Legumes encompass,
- Cannellini beans
- Black pea
Not only these, but beans or legumes are ideal sources of iron, folate, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Assumingly, you know how essential these are for the baby’s growth.
Some benefits of including legumes or beans in your diet are,
- Lessen the overall level of cholesterol and bad cholesterol
- Prevent constipation and hemorrhoids
Intake of legumes is easy, you can add these in your soup, stir-fries, stews, salads, and more. Else if you are experimental, you can try out new legumes like fava beans, adzuki beans, blacked eyed beans, etc.
2. Sweet potato
If you are hearing this for the first time, then I would start with- sweet potatoes are safe to eat. Also, you would not find it tough to include it in your diet. This is one of the best healthy pregnancy food that you can eat by making delicious diets out of it.
Being a root vegetable it includes a high amount of minerals and vitamins than other vegetables. As the health of both mother and baby is essential. Sweet potatoes are a perfect source of vitamin C. With that, it also helps in the absorption of the iron.
You can either eat grilled or baked sweet potato and add some, magic to it with your cooking method.
Here, some of its benefits are,
- Contains potassium which is ideal for the lactation period
- Ease bowel movements
- Natural laxative, as it includes fibers
- Includes about 950 mg of potassium that is perfect for pregnant women
- Form Red Blood Cell as it contains vitamin B6
- Provides relief from morning sickness
- Encourage fetal development as it includes carotene
- Provide relief from digestive issues
- Lessen the high blood sugar level
With that, sweet potatoes also include folic acid, carbohydrates, calcium, sodium, and potassium.
3. Whole grains
According to WebMD, whole grain bread and cereals are enriched with iron and folic acid. Also, it contains a high level of fiber as compared to white bread and rice. Also, it is not only crucial during pregnancy but it is also essential for breastfeeding.
Here, you should eat whole grains, not refined grains as whole grains are made of bran, germ, and endosperm. Whole grains are,
- Brown, black and wild rice
- Wheat berries
- Whole grain pasta, bread, and cereal
Some example of refined grains,
- White rice
- White flour
- Regular pasta
- Cookies and muffins
Now comes the important question, what does it contain? It includes high fiber, minerals, and B vitamins.
Now let’s have a look at its benefits,
- Gives a feeling of fullness
- Irons helps in the formation of RBC
- Folic acid helps in lessening the risk of birth defects, and the formation of new blood cells
- Magnesium develops strong bones
- Supports immune functioning, with the help of selenium
- Decrease the risk of iron deficiency
- Lessen the possibility of heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, and particular cancers
Certainly, whole grain is one of the ideal foods to eat when pregnant first trimester and further.
4. Dairy products
As I have already mentioned that calcium helps in the development of the bones of the fetus. And, what could be the ideal source of calcium than dairy products. No doubt, you have to avoid dairy products like soft cheese as these are prone to harm your baby.
To be certain, you should drink pasteurized milk or ultra heated milk as this milk has been heated to kill the bacteria, and also it avert food poisoning. Check before buying the milk as some shopkeepers sell both types of milk.
Other than the milk you can also eat yogurt, and cheese as these are ideal for the growth and development of the baby. Although, avoid pastured dairy products as these can harm the fetus.
Here, what benefits you get,
- Protein helps in the building of tissues
- Encourage the development of the nervous system
- For the development of bones and teeth, it contains calcium and vitamin D
Certainly, you can eat fish during pregnancy as it is a good source of omega-3 fatty acid. To be noted, it is advised to take fish instead of fish oil supplements. Above all, during pregnancy, you should not take too much vitamin A supplements, which is also termed as retinol.
- Supplements contain vitamin A
- Fish liver oil, for example, cod liver oil
- Multivitamin supplements of high dosage
- Avoid liver and liver products
Additionally, you can take supplements made of the flesh of fish which is termed as omega-3 supplements. Omega-3 fatty acid helps in the neurodevelopment of the fetal and it may be also essential during the gestational period and birth weight too.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, omega-3 fatty acid helps in maintaining the ideal production of hormone-like substances such as prostaglandins. That further, helps in controlling the blood clotting, blood pressure, gastrointestinal tract, and more.
If you are not aware, then avocados are termed as fertility fruits, for both men and women. On top of it, it is ideal to eat during pregnancy and preconceptions period. The major reason for including the avocados in the diet is that these are rich sources of folate and potassium. These are essential for the growth and development of the fetus.
Not only this, but it also contains vitamins, minerals, and fats which makes it perfect healthy pregnancy food.
Let’s have a look at its benefits,
- Ease morning sickness
- Controls cholesterol and level of sugar
- Enhance the brain development of the fetal
- Rich source of minerals such as phosphorus, manganese, copper, zinc, etc
- Helps in the absorption of the nutrients
7. Lean meat
If you want to eat meat during pregnancy, one thing that you need to keep in mind is that eat meat which is cooked but does not have pink or red traces. Cooked meat ensures that it is free from bugs such as toxoplasmosis which is killed during the cooking. This bug is known to be harmful during pregnancy which can even cause miscarriage.
Not only bugs but raw meat if touched on any surface can result in the spreading of dangerous bacteria. That’s the reason it is advised to clean all the surface and utensils which is being touched by or in contact with the raw meat.
Moreover, pork and beef are the perfect sources of choline, iron, and B vitamins that you need in high quantities during pregnancy.
You and your unborn baby need amino acids during pregnancy and eggs are ideal healthy pregnancy food. Eggs are a great source of dozens of minerals and vitamins as well as they also provide choline, which is good for the baby’s brain development.
You can eat eggs only if they are completely cooked or pasteurized. Additionally, you need to avoid raw eggs such as homemade mayonnaise, cake batter, aioli, and more. Now comes, what nutrients eggs have, these are proteins, iron, zinc, folate, vitamin A and D, choline, iodine, and omega-3 long-chain fatty acids.
Finally, what are the benefits of the eggs,
- Helps in growth and development of the brain
- Encourage ordinary functioning and development of the immune system
- Reduce the risk of neural-tube defects
- Form RBC
- Healthy development of bones
9. Broccoli and dark leafy greens
This simply includes kale and spinach greens which are ideal to fulfill the need of pregnant women. These are the amazing source of vitamin K, folate, potassium, fiber, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.
Not only this, but you have several choices as dark green leafy vegetables include,
- Brussels sprouts
- Turnip greens
- Mustard greens
To be noted, do not confuse these with other old green veggies such as green beans or celery.
Further, I would discuss what nutrients it is going to provide you. And, these nutrients are folate, vitamin k, vitamin A, riboflavin, magnesium, calcium, and so on. Let’s move to its benefits,
- Avert spinal cord birth defects
- Helps in the development of bones and teeth
- Lessen the mortality rates
- Keep your blood pressure under check
- Build genetic material
- Prevent blood clotting
- Ease constipation
- Provide relief from leg cramps
10. Dried fruits and nuts
To be clear, you can not eat all the dry fruits as these do not contain water like fruits which makes it tough to digest. To be noted, nuts contain high fat and calories, especially if you take it with sugar and are fried. Therefore, it is advised to take it in its natural form. Here comes what are its benefits,
- Nuts with brown coats help in easing constipation
- Iron helps in averting anemia
- Helps in absorbing iron as it has vitamin C
You can eat,
- Dried apricot
It is one of the perfect foods to eat when pregnant first trimester.
Yes, it is advised not to eat mangoes during pregnancy. However, if eaten with some moderation it is safe and secure to eat. Keep in mind that you should not eat mangoes in larger quantities, hence avoid overindulgence. To be certain, you can consult the same with your doctor for daily intake.
Moreover, despite the fact mangoes contains vitamins and antioxidants which is perfect for the baby’s growth. But as I said, if you eat more than suggested it can cause issues. Particularly, it is advised to eat mango per day.
On top of it, always go for organic mangoes, as it is been found that calcium carbide is used to rip the mangoes artificially. While the good news is that the Food and Drug Department, in 2016 has banned the same.
At last, let’s move to its benefits,
- Keep calories under check
- Contain vitamin A, C, D, and betacarotene
- Ease constipation as it includes potassium and fiber
- Prevent digestive issues
- Preserve you from anemia
- Prevent morning sickness
- Helps in the development of fetal
If you never heard this before, do not worry, you already know what it is. It is a fancy name for the soya beans which belong from the pea-like member vegetable family. You can either consume the same, frozen or fresh. To add, fresh beans need to be washed to lessen the possibility of exposure to the toxoplasmosis.
Benefits of edamame,
- Provide nutrition to the unborn
- Prevent glucose intolerance
- Provide an ideal amount of zinc and iron
- Decrease insulin resistant
- Fiber and folate prevent birth defects
- Ease constipation
You can easily add edamame in your diet by eating it as a plain snack, or you can also add it in your soups and salads.
With all the benefits, let’s come to some of the consequences or risks that you might face if taken in large quantity,
- Enhance the risk of miscarriage
- Lead to stomach issues
- Result in allergies
- Enhance the risk of bleeding
- Result in hormonal issues for the baby
Carrots are an ideal source of vitamins and nutrients whether you are pregnant or not. It is full of protein, vitamin, dietary fiber, vitamin A, C, fat, carbs, sodium, potassium, energy, and sugar. Above all, you can consume it anytime and if cooked correctly you can eat delicious carrots.
No doubt, it is being said that carrots are not good. Some of the reasons are,
- If consume an excessive amount, it might result in cancer as it contains beta-carotene
- Can result in nausea or headaches, especially during pregnancy
- Overeating of carrots is not good during pregnancy
- If consumed more, it turns skin yellow or pale as carrots are naturally red-orange
Hold on! This does not mean you should not consume carrots, eating of carrots during pregnancy is still a big YES. You just need to monitor the quantity.
Done with the rest of things,now it is the time to move to its benefits,
- Ideal for the immune system
- Helps in the development of fetal
- Keeps bones healthy
- Prevention against anemia
- Keeps your blood level under check
- Ease bowel movement
- Relief from constipation
- Helps in the development of the brain and nervous system
Well, the image of bananas is not much good as it has been claimed that it results in weight gain and constipation. But still, it carries the title of “superfood” only because of its nutritional value. Bananas are ideal sources of potassium, folic acid, magnesium, fiber, vitamin B6, manganese, and vitamin C.
Let’s not forget, “excess of anything is not good” same applies here, if consumed in moderate quantity, you get all the benefits,
- Helps in the development of fetal and spinal cord
- Prevent prenatal issues like anemia
- Ease constipation
- Improves digestion
- Prevention against infection
- Provide energy
- Control blood pressure
15. Red bell pepper or capsicum
Certainly, red bell pepper is ideal to eat during pregnancy and the reason behind this is the presence of a high amount of vitamin C. That will keep your immune system healthy and fit during this phase.
As you are well aware capsicums are available in varied colors, but do you know every color specify a particular health benefit. Why not have a look at these? Green capsicum contains silicon which helps in the growth and development of hair and nails. Red capsicum encompasses lycopene that deters cancer. Lastly, yellow capsicum includes lutein and zeaxanthin which boost the immune system.
There come some of the negative effects of high consumption of capsicum,
- Seeds can trigger allergies
- Could affect the digestion and indigestion
- Could affect the quality of breastmilk
- Might be harmful to the baby and mother
I know you are shocked and wondering, why papaya is on this list. But the good news is that you can eat papayas during pregnancy but that should be ripe completely.
Why I’m paying emphasis on ripe papaya?
The sole reason behind this is that unripe or semi-ripe papaya can result in issues in your pregnancy. As it includes latex which that can lead to the contraction in the uterus. That possibly enhances the chances of miscarriage.
Although, taking a bowl of ripe papaya is good. But I would suggest you stay away from it or better to get in touch with the expert.
Water is also an important thing that comes under the diet of pregnant women. With that, during this phase, you need more water than an average person’s requirement.
The major of more water requirement is for the formation of additional blood, carry nutrients, form amniotic fluid, improve digestion, flush waste of the body, and more.
Let’s have a look at the benefits of being hydrated,
- Keeps you cooler
- Lessen the possibility of urinary tract infections
- Decrease constipation or hemorrhoids
- Provide you energy
- Decrease the risk of preterm labor and preterm birth
To add, you are suggested to drink 8-12 glasses of water a day or 2-3 liters of water a day. To check whether you are drinking the right quantity of water, frequent urination, pale or colorless urine are some signs.
I understand drinking this lot of water is tough, for your convenience you can add some lemon, frozen raspberries, and more in your water. Else you can take milk, tea, juice, soups, and more to remain hydrated.
Finally, you know what are the healthy pregnancy food that you should eat. However, to be on the safe side you should take advice from your doctor before introducing anything in your diet.
But only healthy pregnancy food is not enough, you should avoid some of the food also. Therefore, I’m going to enlighten you with pregnancy food to avoid.
Pregnancy Food to Avoid
Yes, there are certain criteria of the food that are capable to harm the baby and I’m sure you do not want this. Therefore, keep these points in mind:
- Unpasteurized dairy products as these contain listeria which could result in infection termed as listeriosis. Some of these are soft cheese, unpasteurized milk of cow, goat or sheep, etc
- Raw eggs and partially cooked eggs or ducks, goose, or quails eggs, as these contain salmonella which could result in food poisoning
- You can take caffeine in a limited amount that is 200mg, however, it is better to avoid this
- Tulsi is one of the Indian foods to avoid during pregnancy as it can result in the contraction of uterine, due to the availability of estragole. To add, it can also result in miscarriage
- Avoid alcohol as it is harmful to the baby in the long term
- Intake of herbal tea should be restricted to 4 cups a day
- Eggplants are advised not to eat during pregnancy. Although, eating it once in a while is fine
- Avoid licorice roots else licorice is safe
- Should not take a high amount of vitamin A supplements
- Sesames seeds stimulate the urine muscle that leads to abortion
- Avoid fish that contain mercury
- Do not eat uncooked or raw meat
- Ajinomoto could affect the development of the brain of the fetus, hence avoid its consumption in large quantity
- Do not eat liver or liver products
- Fennel and fenugreek seeds contain a high amount of phytoestrogens which tend to compress the uterine
- Avoid pate
- Unripe papayas should be avoided
- As grapes enhance the body temperature, therefore avoid consuming it
- Although, there is no study but is advised not to eat pineapples.
- Do not eat refined flour items like pasta, cookies, pizza, pickles, sauces, etc.
Indian Diet Chart for Pregnant Ladies
Here, you would get a pretty good idea of an Indian diet chart during pregnancy. Of course, you can make modifications accordingly. Here, according to Max Healthcare, an Indian diet chart with all the healthy pregnancy food plan is:
- A glass full of cows milk, plain
- Tomato juice
- Dry fruits
- Apple juices
- Almond juice
Here, what you can have in your breakfast,
- Oats porridge
- Bowl of fruits
- Rice sevai with an abundance of veggies
- Vegetable omelet
- Poha with veggies
- Vegetable khandvi
- Mixed vegetable cutlets or patties
- Wheat Rava with veggies
- Filled paranthas of spinach, carrots, beans, cottage cheese, dal, etc
- Whole wheat toast with omelet and butter
- Fruits with breakfast like apricots, bananas, oranges, dates, etc
- Cheese toast or vegetable and cheese sandwich
Mid Morning Snacks
As you have to fulfill the requirement of two, need to take small meals in between and here what you should eat,
- Chicken soup
- Tomato soup
- Carrot and beet soup
- Spinach soup
- Creamy soup spinach
Time to lunch
Here comes your lunch,
- Roti, it could be with veggies, dal, and curd
- Paratha with sprouted beans salad
- Paratha with dal and curd
- Curd rice
- Paratha of peas and carrot with a bowl of curd and some butter
- Cottage cheese paratha with butter and salad of veggies
- Raita with jeera or pea rice
- Kofta curry with rice
- Vegetable salad with rice, dal, and veggies
- Fruit, mint raita, dal, and rice
- Lemon rice with peas and vegetable salad
- Grilled chicken with a bowl of curd
- Khichdi of veggies
- Chicken curry with rice
- Vegetables or vegetable soup with chicken salad
- Mix vegetable uttapam
- Sandwich of corn and cheese
- Vegetable daliya
- Vegetable idli
- Porridge with milk and oats, sevaior daliya
- Idli of spinach and tomato
- Green tea, only a cup
- Sevaiya containing an abundance of veggies
- A bowl full of dry dates or dry fruits
- Halwa of carrot or lauki
- Chicken soup
- Smoothie of bananas or strawberry
- Chicken sandwich
- The mixture of vegetable and roasted peanut
- Chicken cutlet
- Samosa of peas and cauliflower
- Bread cutlet
Let’s have dinner
- Roti with a bowl of dal, veggie and a glass full of buttermilk
- Rice with spinach, dal, and salad
- Plain parantha and a glass of buttermilk
- Khichdi of mix dal with curry of veggies and a bowl of curd
- Vegetable pulao, chicken rice and a bowl of curd
Food to Eat During Pregnancy Week by Week
I’m going to discuss the food to eat during pregnancy week by week, this will help you to eat healthy food as your pregnancy progress.
Early weeks of pregnancy
Whatever you are going to eat during this phase, is going to affect the baby and you. With that, it also plays a major role in the development of the fetus. Hence, include folic acid in your diet, as it helps in spinal development.
Here, what you have to do,
- Leafy greens
During this phase, you should eat iron riched food as it helps in the formation of red blood cells which is what baby needs right now. Also, the baby’s heart starts pumping too. You can either eat vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. Here, what you can eat.
As the first trimester ends, the baby’s brain develops at a faster rate than other body parts. Here, the nutrient you need is omega-3 fatty acid and DHA.
- Prenatal vitamin supplements containing DHA or EPA
13-28 weeks of pregnancy
Here, nutrients that you need with various examples of healthy pregnancy food.
Calcium for bone development and strengtheness
Zinc is required for repair, production, and functioning of DHA
- Whole grains
- Dairy products
- Red meat
Beta-carotene and DHA is needed for eyes
- Sweet potato
Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium
- Fortified milk
29-40 weeks of pregnancy
For stronger bones, you need calcium and magnesium
To prevent blood clot, you need vitamin K
- Swiss chard
- Green leaf lettuce
For proper functioning lung selenium
- Brown rice
- Brazil nuts
Here is the list post-pregnancy food,
- Cashew nuts
- Sesame seeds
- Sweet potato
Note: I would strongly advise you to consult the doctor for a better meal and nutrient plan during pregnancy
At last, I want to pay emphasis on taking the advice of the doctor before eating any food, as it can be harmful to the baby and you. Above all, it might result in serious issues like miscarriage, preterm birth, and more.
On the other hand, you should not take anything in the excess amount which is prescribed by the doctor. Additionally, try to eat all the essential nutrients for you and baby’s health.
Did you get all the information related to the healthy pregnancy food? If you think, I have missed something or mention something wrong, please let me know in the comment below.
Happy Pregnancy Days!