You’re eating for two …which doesn’t mean eating twice as much, it means choosing a well-balanced, healthy and nutritious pregnancy diet that will benefit you and your baby. Eating well during pregnancy doesn’t mean you need to seek out unusual ingredients to boost your baby’s brainpower ….there are plenty of easily obtained, inexpensive ‘superfoods for pregnancy’ that you’re probably eating already!
Check out our top ten, readily available superfoods!
Warming and satisfying, oats are like a hug for your pregnant tummy! They are one of the best grains to keep your heart and arteries healthy, helping to maintain circulation and reduce blood pressure during pregnancy. With a low GI they are also a good source of vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, calcium and iron.
Don’t overlook the humble egg in your quest for pregnancy superfoods! Ideally packaged to support new life they contain a raft of essential pregnancy nutrients including iron, zinc, B vitamins, vitamins A and D as well as omega-3 fats. Eggs are also a source of vitamins K and D which work together to create strong, healthy bones. They are quick and easy to prepare in a wide variety of dishes, perfect when you need an instant meal.
Remember that rainbow of colours for your superfood pregnancy diet? Peppers are especially rich in Vitamin C with a single serving providing more than your recommended daily intake – choose red and orange peppers for extra Vitamin B6 and essential carotenes. The carotenes in peppers are easier to absorb if the peppers are cooked and eaten with a little olive oil.
Here’s another readily available superfood for pregnancy that you might disregard, especially when there are so many milk alternatives. Unless you have an intolerance to dairy products, remember that a simple glass of milk is packed with valuable nutrients for pregnant mums and is one of the best sources of calcium. Calcium is essential during pregnancy to help your baby build healthy bones and teeth and to ensure your own supplies of calcium aren’t depleted – it’s also vital for muscle, heart and nerve function.
Choose organic milk for an increased level of essential omega-3 fats and to avoid the intake of hormones and antibiotics frequently added to the feed on non-organic farms.
A major source of essential fish oils, the omega-3 in salmon will boost your baby’s brain development – it will also help protect against high blood pressure, depression and is good for your skin. We can’t promise that it will prevent pregnancy stretch marks but it’s likely to help! Salmon is also an excellent source of selenium, protein, niacin, Vitamin B12, magnesium and Vitamin B6.
Farmed salmon is more fatty than wild but more importantly it’s better to go for light poaching or grilling when you cook it – overcooking can oxidise the essential fats.
Packed with essential pregnancy nutrients, the humble cabbage is often spurned in favour of other more insta-friendly veg. Don’t over-cook it, go for stir-fry, steamed or shredded into salad but don’t overlook it either! Cabbage is rich in Vitamin C and calcium, folate, fibre and minerals – it’s also a useful source of Vitamin K, B vitamins and iron.
Chilled cabbage leaves will help sooth engorged breasts when you’re breast feeding.
Readily available on the supermarket shelves, mangoes contain more antioxidant beta-carotene than other fruits (the orange flesh is a giveaway!) and are exceptionally high in essential Vitamin C. They are also rich in potassium which is necessary for regulating your pregnancy blood pressure.
An enzyme found in mangoes can be a soothing digestive aid, which makes them ideal the ideal superfood choice if you are suffering from pregnancy heartburn.
Lentils are one of the few pulses that don’t need soaking before you cook them and can be added to soups and stews for added iron and fibre – they combine both soluble and insoluble fibre for a double whammy of digestive goodness. Iron-rich, lentils are also high in zinc, useful in pregnancy to boost your immune system and build up your baby’s immune system too!
Coconut water is the clear liquid that you find in a young coconut – not to be confused with coconut milk. Drink it chilled on its own or add it to a smoothie – it is the ideal superfood drink to rehydrate after your pregnancy workout or exercise as it is a natural isotonic drink, readily absorbed by your body. Unlike many manufactured sports drinks, it is low in calories and contains a raft of essential minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium.
Historically ginger has long had a reputation as a healthy food: aside from its anti-cancer properties, it is a powerful anti-inflammatory and may also ease migraines. As a pregnancy superfood it is a fantastic remedy for nausea and morning sickness.
Buy fresh ginger root and use it flavour stir fry vegetables, chicken and fish dishes or to make crispy ginger biscuits to nibble. Make a soothing and delicious ginger drink by combining freshly grated ginger with lemon juice, honey and hot water.