5 Prenatal Power Foods
When it comes to the development of your baby, the most important nutrient you need in your diet is folate! This B-vitamin helps protect against the development of neural tube defects, and abnormal development in the brain and spinal cord. This is the one nutrient that usually gets prescribed by your doctor the moment you even think about getting pregnant. In addition to getting folate from supplements, it’s also present in many foods including leafy greens like spinach, citrus fruits, peas and beans. You will need about 800 mcg daily before conception and throughout pregnancy. Make a folate packed Spinach salad with asparagus, orange slices and a few peanuts for good measure. Spinach provides 115 mcg in just ½ cup, while asparagus provide 89 mcg in 4 spears, 1 orange delivers 52 mcg and peanuts provide 41 mcg in a 1 oz serving!
- Greek Yogurt
This creamy delight is full of high quality protein and more importantly bone-building calcium. When it comes to strengthening bones, and developing bones and teeth of your baby, calcium is an important mineral. Calcium also helps develop the circulatory, muscular and nervous system. The recommended daily value for calcium is 1000 mg per day. If you don’t have enough calcium, to sustain the needs of your developing baby, your body will take calcium from your bones, decreasing your bone mass, and increasing your risk for Osteoporosis later in life. One cup of non-fat Greek Yogurt provides 17 g of protein and 18% of your daily value of calcium. Choose non-fat Greek Yogurt that doesn’t contain added sugar, instead add a dash of vanilla and fresh berries.
- Whole Eggs
Whole eggs are high in protein, and deliver a source of fats including monounsaturated, polyunsaturated fats and even a source of cholesterol, which is important in the balance of hormones, but eggs are also a good source of Vitamin D. Just one whole egg, provides 11% of the 600 IU you need daily. Mix one whole egg with a few extra egg whites, add your favorite veggies such as spinach, pepper mushroom, or even shredded sweet potato to create your own combination of a healthy omelet!
- Lean Red Meat
Lean steak provides a whole lot of goodness including lean building protein, zinc, energizing creatine and blood building iron. When you’re pregnant blood volume expands, to accommodate changes in your body and development of your baby including their blood supply, thus doubling your need for the all important iron mineral from 18 to 27 mg daily. Iron is involved in the production of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen to your tissues. If you are lacking iron in your diet, not only will you feel tired and fatigued, you can also put yourself at risk for preterm delivery and a lower birth weight for your baby. A 100 g serving of lean red meat provides 3.5 mg per serving. Not a fan of steak? Try turkey – it delivers about 2.1 mg per serving.
- Citrus Fruit
Citrus fruit provide a source of vitamin C, which can help in formation of collagen and the structural proteins that make up our skin, hair and nails, and your babies skin, hair and nails too! Choose from your favorite sources of citrus fruit such as oranges, grapefruits, or add lemon or lime to water. Vitamin C can also help your body access and use iron. Daily vitamin C requirements for pregnant women are 70 mg per day.
Written by Lauren Jacobsen, Nutrition Director