Are you clued up on your pregnancy superfoods? Nutrition and a good diet is obviously beneficial for everyone, but even more so for pregnant women. Yet for many, pregnancy is seen as a time to indulge. I can not remember the amount of times I heard the phrase ‘you’re eating for two now’ when I was pregnant. It was usually announced as I was enjoying a rare, sweet treat – which struck me as odd. Why is eating for two usually understood as eating twice as much? The NHS recommends pregnant women eat an extra 200 calories in their last trimester. That’s around 2 slices of plain brown toast or half an avocado, not exactly a feast!
I chose to see ‘eating for two’ as a reason to eat twice as healthy. This is easier said than done if you want to get a wide range of nutrients in, without the extra calories. It can also be tricky if you are suffering from pregnancy sickness and want comfort food. Swapping some of your staple foods for superfoods that are rich in nutrients is a simple way to boost your health, without changing your lifestyle. Read on for some great tips and recipes that will benefit you and your baby.
Ditch the chocolates and biscuits for a packet of dried apricots instead. Rich in iron, potassium and calcium, dried apricots are great for a healthy and handy snack. During pregnancy your blood volume increases by 50% so extra iron is vital for making hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to other cells. Dried apricots are also high in fiber which will help your bowels later in pregnancy when baby is taking up lots of room and digestion slows down.
For a healthy and quick breakfast, add them to muesli with with a selection of superfoods like pumpkin seeds and fresh berries. Serve with your choice of milk or yoghurt.
High in magnesium, folic acid and calcium, broccoli is very beneficial for bone development. Avoid over cooking to retain as many vitamins as possible.
Broccoli makes a tasty side to most main meals, from stir fry to roast dinners. For a quick and easy broccoli and cheddar frittata recipe click here. It can be eaten as a main meal, plus save the left overs for a cold lunch.
Swap your morning tea or coffee for a ‘not from concentrate’ orange juice. High in vitamin C, orange juice also contains vitamin A, magnesium and potassium. Drinking orange juice on an empty stomach is also good for your digestion as it contains fiber. Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron, so drinking orange juice with an iron rich meal makes this a pregnancy superfood with double the benefits.
Orange juice can be added to smoothies or frozen in ice cube trays for a snack.
Oily fish during pregnancy help to boost your omega-3, essential for your babies brain development. Eat this superfood to make your baby brainy! Sardines are also high in vitamin D and protein. You should not eat more than two portions of oily fish a week during pregnancy, as they contain some pollutants and mercury. The benefits outweigh the negatives, so enjoy in moderation.
Sardines on toast make an affordable and convenient lunch.
My favourite of all pregnancy superfoods! Swap your regular potatoes for sweet potatoes for an easy way to boost your vitamin A, vitamin C, folate and fiber. Sweet potatoes get their colour from cartenoids, which the body converts into vitamin A. The body converts cartenoids into vitamin A only when needed, so there is no limit to how much you can eat in pregnancy. Vitamin A helps your babies development of the heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, and bones as well as the circulatory, respiratory, and central nervous systems. It also helps tissue repair for mums post birth.
Sweet potatoes are a starchy food that are high in energy to keep you going. They are probably more manageable if you are suffering from pregnancy sickness too. Enjoy as a jacket potato with the topping of your choice. I recommend kidney beans and guacamole for a tasty meal that is high in protein and good fats – click here for the recipe.
A healthy source of protein, chickpeas are also rich in calcium, magnesium, zinc and folic acid. Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, helps to reduce the risk of Neural Tube Defects in developing babies, such as spina bifida.
Hummus with carrot sticks make a quick, healthy snack, or include chickpeas in a curry. For a nutritious chickpea and sweet potato curry recipe click here.
These pregnancy superfoods tips are useful to follow as part of a varied diet and healthy lifestyle. I am not a trained nutritionist, so this list is based on my own research and opinions. If you would like to know more about healthy eating during pregnancy, please consult your GP or midwife.