Pregnancy is a wonderful time, but it can also be pretty scary. Especially if you’re a first-time mom, you might not always know what to do to keep your baby healthy. We’re here to help! One of the simplest ways to make sure your baby’s development is on track is to eat a diet full of pregnancy superfoods. These superfoods aren’t fancy or expensive; in fact, you might already have them in your kitchen. They’re full of nutrients that will help your baby grow strong, and they’re tasty, too!
Beans are a good source of fiber, protein, iron, folate, calcium, and zinc. They’re easy to cook and can be used in many of your favorite dishes. Try:
- Hummus (a dip made with chickpeas, garlic, and lemon) with whole grain crackers or raw veggies
- Burritos or burrito bowls, made with black beans, brown rice, low-fat cheese, and lots of fresh vegetables
- Black bean burgers, which often contain soy protein for double the bean benefits!
Beef is packed with protein, B vitamins, and iron. It’s also rich in choline, which your baby needs for brain development. Lean ground beef can be added to many of your favorite dishes, including:
There’s no fruit that doesn’t have nutritional benefits, but berries are especially good for a pregnancy diet. These little wonders are full of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and fiber. Berries add nutrition and flavor to foods you may already enjoy, like:
Broccoli is a more versatile vegetable than you think, and packed with good things for you and your baby. In addition to folate, fiber, and calcium, broccoli contains minerals like lutein for healthy vision, potassium for healthy blood pressure, and the nutrients your body needs to produce vitamin A. You can serve it steamed as a side with lunch or dinner, or:
- Add it to a stir-fry with brown rice and your favorite protein
- Toss it with whole-grain pasta
- Fold it into an omelet
More cheese, please! Like most dairy foods, cheese is full of calcium and phosphorous for healthy bones. It’s also a good source of vitamin B12 and protein. And whether it is soft or hard, it’s safe for pregnant woman to eat as long as the ingredient list includes “pasteurized milk.”
If you’re counting calories and fat, reduced fat cheese has all the nutritional benefits of full-fat cheese. There aren’t many things that a little cheese can’t make better. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Macaroni and cheese with low-fat cheese and whole-grain noodles; a lightened-up take on a classic
- Sprinkled on top of soups and salads for extra protein and extra flavor
- For the non-cooks out there, enjoy it as a snack with whole-grain crackers or on your favorite whole-grain bread as a grilled cheese sandwich!
Inside one little egg is more than a dozen vitamins and minerals, as well as all the essential amino acids you and your baby need. Some brands also contain omega-3 fatty acids that aid in brain development for baby and heart health for you. Eggs are an especially good source of complete protein for vegetarian moms. Aside from eating them fried, scrambled, or in an omelet at breakfast, you can:
- Hard boil eggs to eat as a snack by themselves or slice them up to top a salad
- Top a sandwich or hamburger with an egg fried in nonstick cooking spray
- Treat yourself to whole-grain French toast
Just like cheese, milk is an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D, all of which keep you and your baby’s bones healthy and strong. Milk is also full of vitamin A, B vitamins, and protein. It’s a good idea to drink an eight-ounce glass of plain or flavored milk every day, but you can also:
- Cook your oatmeal with milk instead of water
- Blend it with berries, other fruits, and leafy greens for a healthy smoothie
- Mix up a healthy treat with low-sugar pudding
Whole grains have the folic acid that is essential to your baby’s growth, as well as B vitamins, iron, and zinc. Unlike processed grains, like white bread and white rice, whole grains are packed with fiber. It couldn’t be easier to incorporate whole grains into your diet. Try:
- Swapping white rice and pasta for brown rice and whole wheat pasta
- Making your own popcorn! Pop plain kernels in a pot on the stove, or in the microwave using a paper bag
- Enjoying a bowl of whole-grain cereal with your favorite milk
Plain low-fat and fat-free yogurt has all the same benefits of dairy foods like milk and cheese – protein, B vitamins, and zinc for healthy bones – but it also has more calcium than milk. Greek yogurt, which is thicker and creamier, has even more protein than regular yogurt, and both are full of probiotics that promote a healthy gut. Add yogurt to your healthy pregnancy diet by:
- Making a yogurt parfait with berries and whole grain oats
- Swapping plain Greek yogurt for sour cream on baked potatoes, chili, and tacos
- Stirring it into sauces and soups for extra creaminess
Treat yourself and your baby to good health!