For every woman, pregnancy is a phase to cherish and remember, although it is beset with its own discomfort and difficulties and whatnot. Despite the fact that it could put you through vomiting bouts, nausea, heartburns, backaches, and so on, the feeling that you are nurturing a little life inside of you is the best part of the whole experience.
With all the mollycoddling from the people around to take care of you, to give you foods you like, to provide that extra support, to offer all the advice they can, it could get overwhelming sometimes, although it depends on your perspective. Nevertheless, take good care of your health – both physical and mental – and always listen to your body cues. Rest as much as you can and never stress yourself.
Through this article, I would like to recommend 10 superfoods for a great and healthy pregnancy. These suggestions are out of my own experiences and my gynecologist’s advice during my monthly trips to meet her. (She is one amazing woman. I used to look forward to the appointments with her!)
Milk and curd
Dairy products, in general, are good for health. They are a good source of calcium which is essential for the development of strong bones and teeth. The fetus inside of a pregnant woman draws the necessary calcium required for its development from the mother’s spine, bones, and teeth, a study says; hence a lot of milk and curd (effectively a liter/day in the form of dairy products) is a must in her diet.
In addition, milk is a good source of protein and vitamin D too, protein helping in overall fetal development and vitamin D enabling effective absorption of calcium in the body for both the mother and the baby. Pregnancy can be a great time to improve a woman’s bone health!
So, never say no to a glass of milk, buttermilk or lassi, or a bowl of curd rice! Go for it!
Pulses form the umbrella of all the beans, peas, and lentils – chickpeas, red beans, black-eyed peas, green grams, kidney beans, lima/butter beans, peanuts/groundnuts, soybeans, horse gram, Bengal gram, green peas, black and green lentils. These are a variety of pulses and legumes, although not exhaustive.
They are an excellent and cheap source of protein which is vital for fetal growth, good birth weight, and height and immunity-building antibodies. These pulses and grams should be part of a pregnant woman’s meal every day. It can be added to any of the dishes prepared or consumed as sundal (Boiled chickpeas/green grams/any beans with a light tempering of mustard seeds and finally garnished with grated coconut. Don’t forget to add salt as per your taste) as a snack in the evening.
Green leafy vegetables are rich in nutrients and supply the necessary vitamins, folate, fiber, and iron. Spinach is recommended mainly for its high iron content. Anemia is a common problem among pregnant women because good hemoglobin levels are necessary for that extra blood circulation throughout the body carrying oxygen across to the fetus and to the rest of the body. Try to include spinach in your meal at least 3-4 times a week.
One egg a day has its own health benefits and certainly improves the protein content in your diet. While a few studies mention that raw or undercooked eggs should not be eaten by pregnant women, there are always a variety of dishes to include in your diet every day. Some options are omelet, scrambled eggs, and egg dosa.
Eggs are also a superb source of omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for a baby’s brain development. They are also low in calorie and helps stabilize blood sugars.
If you do not like including eggs in your diet or do not have the habit of eating them, don’t force yourself to. Let us not experiment with the intake of new food during pregnancy. Instead, take a good dose of pulses and lentils that will, for sure, supplement with the protein required. Include soybeans as well which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pistachios are the usual and typical variety of nuts that one would easily find in a supermarket store. As small as they seem to be, they are loaded with nutrients that do wonders for your health. These nut varieties are very rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are valuable for the baby’s development. A good dose of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet also boosts immunity and aids in preventing preterm labor.
Don’t miss counting these nutty nuts into your diet. They can be devoured raw or added to any sweets and savories. Almonds are best when consumed without their skin. Have about 3-4 almonds soaked in water for a few hours, peel their skin off and eat them.
Pomegranates and Citrus fruits
Pomegranates, in general, are good for the uterus. It is rich in folate, vitamins, fiber, and potassium. Pomegranate juice increases blood flow to the uterus, strengthens it, and promotes a healthy uterine lining. A healthy uterus always facilitates supporting healthy fetal development. Its juice also promises to prevent preterm labor and growth restrictions.
Among other fruits, the best and most important category to be included in the diet is citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and sweet limes. They are a great source of calcium, folate, and fiber. Essentially rich in Vitamin C, these fruits increase the pregnant woman’s and her baby’s ability to absorb iron in the body. Also, these fruits contain 90% water which will enable fulfilling your fluid requirements as well. So, a glass of orange or lemon juice should be your go-to drink every day.
Carrots and Beetroots
The ABC juices are generally very good for health – Apple, Carrot, and Beetroot. Carrots provide you with the necessary Vitamin C and A which plays a vital role in the strong development of a baby’s skin, eyes, flesh, and muscles. This wonder vegetable helps to build immunity and keeps a check on the blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Carrots are also rich in calcium which is necessary for good bones and teeth development.
Beetroots, on the other hand, are among the foods with high folate content which is crucial for the development of the baby’s nervous system and can minimize the risks of birth defects. Rich in iron, it prevents anemia when consumed regularly. This vegetable is also known for its blood purifying capability and helps in detoxification as well.
So, carrots and beetroots are a must in the diet of a pregnant woman. Don’t push them aside!
Ensure to have one banana a day during pregnancy. Filled with potassium, vitamin B-6, and fiber, bananas provide relief from constipation, nausea, vomiting, and morning sickness which are common concerns during this phase. Red bananas are also a great choice as they are rich in iron too.
Include bananas in your diet as milkshakes, smoothies, chips (if you are craving for a light munch), or simply peel its skin off and have one after lunch or dinner every day. But, do take care if there are symptoms or you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Bananas might add to your blood sugars.
Dates and Raisins
Dates are a very healthy option to improve your body’s iron content. Nutrient-rich, it is good to have 2-3 dates daily during the gestational phase. It provides the necessary sugars (for energy), protein, fiber, and folate too. Care should be taken if identified with diabetes during pregnancy. Limit dates intake in such a case.
Black and golden raisins (6 – 8) can be soaked in water overnight and consumed first thing in the morning. They have super health benefits. Black raisins are known to supplement and maintain good iron content in the body. It practically increases your hemoglobin count. The golden ones act as a natural aid in relieving constipation problems which is very common during pregnancy.
These are magic seeds from a herb that assist in easy digestion. With all the organs making way inside of you for the growing fetus, even the simple digestion process becomes a little hard to manage. It could cause bad heartburns, acidity, and constipation problems.
Including cumin in your diet can relieve the pregnant woman from these stomach-related issues as it enhances the production of digestive enzymes and in turn, helping with the process. Besides adding them as a seasoning flavor to your dishes, drinking jeera water (boil 1 tbsp of cumin seeds in 200-250ml water and drink it hot) too provides a great respite. Cumin also facilitates lactation.
The right diet, enough rest, a good set of exercises or just about 30-45 minutes of brisk walking can keep you fit and healthy during pregnancy. Do include these foods and enjoy the wonderful phase of pregnancy and ultimately a smooth delivery of a beautiful, healthy baby!