10 Best Pregnancy Foods to Eat for a Healthy Baby

Twenty years from now, your child be be glad you ate these foods

Best Healthy Pregnancy Foods

Nutrition throughout pregnancy is essential not only for the mother’s health but also for the baby’s overall growth and development.  

This post will explain the importance of eating a nutritious diet when you are expecting a baby and its effects on the health of your baby.

You’ll also learn about the best foods to eat for healthy pregnancy.

How does nutrition affect pregnancy?

A healthy pregnancy comes with a healthy body weight gain, good nutrient stores, and healthy eating habits.

To achieve this, it is essential to consume various nutritious foods that can benefit both the mother and the infant. 

A good nutritional status must be maintained at an optimum level to support developmental changes in the early weeks of pregnancy.

These changes include the formation of the placenta, amniotic sac, umbilical cord, and the uterus’ expansion to accommodate the growing baby. 

A low nutritional status, whether the mother is underweight or overweight, The more they are prone to pregnancy and childbirth health risks.

For instance, if the mother can maintain a healthy pregnancy weight, she is likely to deliver a healthy baby.

Research shows that if a baby is born with low birth weight, the higher their chances of having illnesses, they are likely to die in the early months of their life. 

For nutritionally at-risk pregnant mothers, there is a great need to improve their nutrient intake by eating nutritious foods. Also, taking nutrient supplementation when necessary helps.

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Nutritional needs in pregnancy

Energy and nutrient requirements are high during the gestational period or pregnancy. This requires pregnant women to follow a balanced diet and include extra servings from different food groups to meet their daily needs. 

Pregnant women should have adequate energy intake and increase the supplies of nutrients such as:

  • protein
  • carbohydrate
  • folate
  • vitamin b12
  • vitamin d
  • calcium
  • phosphorus
  • fluoride
  • magnesium
  • iron
  • vitamin c
  • zinc

Women should undoubtedly be extra cautious on their food and drink consumption as there are possibilities that it can negatively affect the baby’s growth. 

Healthy foods for pregnancy

1. Dark, green leafy vegetables

Kale, collards, Swiss chard, broccoli, spinach, mustard green, cabbage, and more! Just eat the freshest ones you can find.

Adding green leafy vegetables to your diet provides you with significant amounts of vitamins C, K, and A, minerals calcium, iron, and folate, and fiber.

Also, taking a daily dose of leafy greens reduces your risk of acquiring lifestyle diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. 

Including more green and cruciferous vegetables in your diet can also help fend off gastrointestinal disturbances such as constipation.

And vegetables also have the potential to reduce the risk of low birth weight

2. Whole grains

Whole grains like whole wheat, barley, rice, oats, barley, and corn are rich in carbohydrates. Also, they are a source of energy necessary to develop the placenta and the baby’s growth and development.

These foods contain minerals, folic acid, iron, selenium, and magnesium.

And they’re also excellent sources of B vitamins. All of these nutrients are important for the growing needs of your baby. 

If you want to get the most out of this food group, look for products that indicate “whole grains.”

Beware as there are grain products that are labeled “enriched” or “refined.”

Enriched or refined grain products are just less nutritious compared to whole grains. Examples of whole-grain products are whole wheat bread, brown rice, and more.

Products labeled “refined” or “enriched” aren’t as beneficial to you or your baby.

3. Fruits

Pregnant mothers need foods rich in potassium, vitamin A and C, folic acid, and fiber.

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These nutrients are necessary to keep the body strong and healthy until the baby is born. You can get all of these from fruits!

To name a few:

  • apples
  • citrus
  • bananas
  • kiwis
  • watermelons
  • mango
  • cantaloupe
  • cherry pomegranate
  • apricots
  • berries

These are some of the best healthy foods to eat during pregnancy. Don’t just limit yourself to these fruits. There are just plenty of them to try! 

4. Dairy products

Dairy products are rich in high-quality complete protein and calcium.

It can also provide good amounts of vitamin B-complex and minerals phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc.

These are essential nutrients that are needed to nourish your growing baby. Examples of dairy products are milk, cheese, and yogurt

You can choose whole milk or full cream milk, low fat, or skimmed milk for milk.

Or, if you want something that will not easily contribute to excessive unhealthy weight gain and excess calories, you opt for low fat or skimmed milk. This is because it has a lower calorie value than whole milk.  

On the other hand, Greek yogurt is found to have more calcium than other dairy products.

Besides that, yogurt also contains good bacteria called probiotics that are essential for your digestive health. 

5. Eggs

Egg is a versatile food that contains high-quality fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Choline from eggs is a vital nutrient that supports various cellular growth and metabolism – crucial for the baby’s brain development and the prevention of brain and spine abnormalities.

6. Legumes

Legumes, often called pulses, include peas, lentils, beans, soybeans, chickpeas, peanuts, and the like.

This is a plant-based food group that can give you good amounts of protein, fiber, iron, calcium, folate, potassium, and magnesium. 

You can make hummus, stir-fries, Or add them to your favorite salads, pasta sauces, and soups with legumes. 

7. Lean meat

Strip off the fatty part and eat lean pork, beef, and chicken.

These are excellent sources of high-quality protein, iron, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, and other B vitamins.

You can cook meat in different kinds of dishes such as stews, soups, stir-fries, baked and pasta dishes. 

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8. Fish and other kinds of seafood

Seafood includes fish and shellfish. This food group contains excellent sources of protein, iron, and zinc.

And all these nutrients are necessary for your baby’s growth and development. Besides that, omega-3 fatty acids found in many fishes benefit your baby’s brain development.

When buying seafood, you must know that some species may contain high levels of the toxic element called mercury.

Over time, mercury can accumulate in your bloodstream, mostly when you regularly eat fish high in mercury.

This can damage your baby’s developing brain and nervous system. This makes it one of the most critical and best healthy pregnancy foods.

Examples of seafood low in mercury and high in omega-3 fatty acids are:

  • salmon
  • herring
  • anchovies
  • pacific mackerel
  • freshwater trout
  • sardines
  • pollock
  • shrimp
  • cod, tilapia
  • catfish

9. Healthy fats and oils 

Examples of healthy fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

These types of fats can help improve heart health and control cholesterol levels. For pregnancy, healthy fats help in the proper brain and eye development of your baby. 

These healthy fats are sourced from avocados and nuts.

You can also get healthy fats from plant-based oils such as sunflower oil, peanut oil, grapeseed oil, and olive oil.

10. Water

How does water make it to our list of best healthy pregnancy foods? Because water is life. Let me explain.

Water is needed to keep you and your baby hydrated.

With your growing pregnant body, your blood volume increases by almost 50 percent. That increases the demand for water intake

Make sure to keep track of your water intake to avoid dehydration.

When you are dehydrated, you may experience headaches, tiredness, moodiness, anxiety, and probably it can also reduce memory. 

Aside from the fact that water can keep you hydrated, water can also help relieve constipation and reduce the possibility of developing urinary tract infections (UTI)

Drink 8 to 12 glasses of water a day (2.3) liters. You’ll notice that you would go to the toilet more often.

That’s actually normal if that happens. What’s important is that the color of your urine is colorless or pale. It indicates that you are well-hydrated. 

Takeaway

You’re not just feeding yourself, but you are also feeding your growing baby in your belly. These healthy pregnancy foods can help improve the health of the baby.

The overall health of your baby relies on the effort you put into keeping your pregnant body healthy.

Follow a well-rounded eating plan that includes dark and green leafy vegetables, whole grains, fruits, dairy products, eggs, legumes, lean meats, seafood, healthy fats and oils, and water. 

See the above mentioned recommended healthy food options to boost your way to optimum nutrition.

See to it that you should also consult with your healthcare provider with regards to your dietary choices. 

(Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian)

Dorothy is a Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian and a candidate for a master's degree in Public Health (MPH) major in Public Health Nutrition. She has a passion for teaching to her university students about food, nutrition, and health. Dorothy is a coffee lover and she enjoys traveling, writing, cycling, running, cooking, baking, and cooking.