Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy is very important. During this time, your body needs additional nutrients, vitamins and minerals. These foods include:
1. Whole Grains:
Eating whole grains may help pregnant women meet their increased calorie requirements, especially during the second and third trimesters. As opposed to refined grains, whole grains are packed with fibre, vitamins, plant compounds, B vitamins and magnesium. All of these are frequently lacking in the diets of pregnant women. Examples include Brown rice, Oatmeal, Whole-wheat bread, Corn etc.
2. Dairy Products:
Dairy is the best dietary source of calcium, and provides high amounts of phosphorus, various B vitamins, magnesium and zinc. Yoghurt, especially Greek yogurt, is particularly beneficial for pregnant women. It contains more calcium than most other dairy products. Some varieties also contain probiotic bacteria, which support digestive health. People who are lactose intolerant may also be able to tolerate yogurt, especially probiotic yogurt. Probiotics may also help reduce the risk of complications. Examples include Cheese, Butter, Milk, Yoghurt, Ice cream, etc.
Whole eggs are incredibly nutritious and a great way to increase your overall nutrient intake. They also contain choline, an essential nutrient for brain health and development.
4. Leafy green vegetables:
Consuming dark, leafy greens rich in fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, iron, folate, potassium and antioxidants benefit the immune system and digestion. Due to their high fibre content, they also help treat and prevent constipation. Examples include: Spinach, Nigerian vegetables like Efirin, Tete, Shoko, Waterleaf, Afang Leaves, Ugwu.
5. Sweet Potatoes:
Sweet potatoes are very rich in beta-carotene, a plant compound that is converted into vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A is essential for growth and the differentiation of most cells and tissues and is very important for healthy foetal development.
6. Omega-3 rich foods:
Omega-3 fatty acids are key to human growth and development, and broken down into two categories; EPA and DHA, are essential for prenatal and infant circulatory systems, neurological development with particular regards to foetal eye and cognitive function. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include Nuts, Cod Liver Oil Capsules, Walnuts, Fish like Mackerel, Tuna, Salmon, and Sardine.
Packed with water, healthy carbs, vitamin C, fibre, plant compounds and antioxidants help pregnant women increase their nutrient and water intake. They generally contain high amounts of vitamin C, which is important for skin health, immune function and iron absorption. Berries have a relatively low glycemic index value, so they should not cause major spikes in blood sugar. Examples include strawberries, raspberries, grapes, blueberries and cranberries. These can also be obtained from 100% fruit juice with no added preservatives.
What you eat during pregnancy affects your energy, well-being, health and development of your baby. Since calorie and nutrient needs are increased, it’s very important that you choose nutrient-dense, healthy foods. Gaining weight during pregnancy is normal, but it’s important to gain it in a healthy way. This benefits you, your baby and your health after the pregnancy. These foods are a good start towards a healthy, well-nourished pregnancy.