Top 5 Pregnancy Superfoods
Leafy Green Vegetables
Essential Fatty Acids & Omega 3’s
High Folate Foods
Iron Rich Foods
Leafy Green Vegetables: Nutritionally, greens are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. They are crammed with essential nutrients for making a healthy baby and staying healthy yourself. Remember, your baby will take what it needs from you, even if that ends up leaving you depleted, so make sure to get enough nourishment for the both of you!
Choose your favorite greens and when ready to branch out try Arugula, Bok choy, Broccoli, Collards, Lettuce, Kale, Mustard greens, Napa cabbage, Spinach, and Wild greens.
Essential Fatty Acids & Omega-3s: Fat provides energy, aids in absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and supports development of your baby. Essential fatty acids are fats that the body cannot produce and ones you must eat. There is a growing body of research supporting the need for omega-3 fatty acid intake, in particular DHA, to ensure optimal fetal brain and eye development.
It is recommended that pregnant women consume at least 200 mg of DHA per day, which you can achieve by consuming one to two servings of low-mercury seafood per week. The most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are salmon, shrimp, sardines, canned light tuna, catfish and pollock. *Bold indicates best sources.
Choline Foods: Choline is not typically found in prenatal supplements, yet it is estimated that 90% of Americans do not get enough of this nutrient. During pregnancy, choline supports optimal fetal brain development, influences cognitive function in later life, and provides protection against birth defects such as spina bifida. While the body’s ability to synthesize choline increases during pregnancy, the demand is so high that mom’s stores are often depleted. A study in 2014 demonstrated the high demand during pregnancy when measurements of choline in amniotic fluid revealed to be ten times greater than that present in maternal blood.
What’s even more interesting about choline is its relationship with folate. Folate is another critical nutrient for pregnancy in prevention of neural tube defects. Choline, folate, and B vitamins all work together, keeping one another in balance.
During pregnancy, recommended intake of choline is 450 mg per day. Great news! It’s considerably easy to get your daily intake through diet alone, most times supplements are not necessary. For instance, eggs are one of the top food sources of choline, providing about 125 mg, or roughly a quarter of the recommended daily amount. Other food sources include chicken, beef, liver, salmon, cod, cauliflower, broccoli and milk.
High Folate Foods: Folate is a B vitamin that helps your baby’s neural tube close. This is the embryo’s precursor to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), so proper closing of the neural tube ensures a healthy nervous system. You need 600 mcg of folate daily. Since the neural tube develops within the first 28 days of pregnancy, it’s important to take your prenatal vitamin and incorporate folate type foods into your diet. Folate prevents certain heart abnormalities, cleft palate and cleft lip. It also lowers the risk of developing anemia, miscarriage, preterm delivery and low birth weight. It can be found in fortified breakfast cereals, lentils, edamame, asparagus, beans, broccoli, orange juice, spinach, asparagus, broccoli and strawberries.
Iron Rich Foods: Its most important role is that iron contributes to the production of hemoglobin and myoglobin. Hemoglobin helps transport oxygen to your cells while myoglobin transports oxygen to muscles. Iron aids in supporting the immune system, energy production, contributes to healthy birth weight and proper fetal brain and central nervous system development. It’s a big deal. It can be found in fortified cereals, oatmeal, spinach, seafood and beans.
NOTE: When taking an iron supplement, you can increase your iron absorption if you take iron with orange juice and make sure you limit dairy 2 hours before and after you ingest iron because diary disrupts your body’s ability to absorb the iron.
We’d love to hear: How are you doing? Have you been able to incorporate any of these superfoods into your pregnancy diet?
If you’re looking for additional pregnancy and postpartum support, we’d love for you to join Unique Footprints – you’ll get a food guide with meal plan, learn how to decrease your discomforts and increase in your energy. Plus, you’re not only going to feel better, but you’re also going to improve the health of your baby.
Your UF Food Guide was created by a Registered Dietitian and Registered Nurse. It will help you improve your nutrition during pregnancy and accounts for your pregnancy caloric intake needs. You’ll get practical tips and inspiration from it to help guide your eating habits.
UF Food is flexible, fun and realistic! You have the power within you to create an incredibly healthy child and to experience and enjoy vibrant health during the process. It would be an honor to have you join us.
Unique Footprints Authors:
Caroline Susie, RD/LD
Caroline is in private practice and is the Unique Footprints Registered Dietitian, mother of a 6 month old and two Jack Russel Terriers. She helps women sort through nutrition trends to find the best evidence-based nutrition approach for their lifestyle. She currently specializes in prenatal and postnatal nutrition and believes that taking a personalized approach is best. She is a contributor for Fox News and many other publications. Personally, Caroline is a fitness enthusiast who enjoys running, yoga, tennis and is a lover of food. You can learn more about Carline here.
Jenny Morrow, RN, IBCLC, LCCE, RYT
Jenny is a born and raised Texan who loves the feel of a book in her hands, an unshakable optimistic and refuels by time in nature. She’s a mom, neonatal nurse and founder of Unique Footprints (a fully realized, 100% digital pregnant and new mom resource). She created her company in the delivery room – literally! As a nurse assisting with deliveries and postpartum care, she directly witnessed families who did not feel prepared and were shocked through the transition into parenthood, and she knew there was a better way. Jenny has taught over 10,000 expecting families how to prepare for this time in their lives. You can learn more about Jenny here.