Best Foods For Pregnant Women

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A mother-to-be’s diet should be balanced and nutritious with the right amounts of carbs, protein, and fats so as to maintain a healthy pregnancy.

During pregnancy, a mother-to-be gets bombarded with food and nutrition information. With, bury all those confusions.

Below are some of the power-packed foods for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

Let us start by checking out the importance of each and every health element without any further delay.

Importance of Protein During Pregnancy

Protein, a “builder nutrient” is vital during pregnancy to support fetal brain development, fetal cell growth, fetal heart, and blood production.

Vegetarians who consume no meat should pay huge attention to protein consumption to supplement the daily protein requirements.

According to a survey, it is stated that 75 to 100 grams of protein consumption is a must during pregnancy.

Since the baby grows more rapidly in the second and third trimesters, protein intake in the latter stages of pregnancy is more important than in the earlier stages.

Protein deficiencies can lead to intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and hampered the growth in the foetus. Below are the protein-rich foods that should be consumed by a pregnant woman.

1. Beans and Lentils.

Beans and lentils both form an excellent source of protein. A ½ cup (125 grams) serving of lentils provides about 12 grams of protein. Just add a cup of cooked lentils to your meal, and you can meet half of your daily folate requirement.

Example: Kidney beans, black beans, green lentils, black lentils, garbanzos, and peanuts.

2. Nuts And Seeds

Gulp down a handful of nuts and it can fulfill your daily requirements of protein. Nuts that are rich in protein include almonds, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, coconuts, hazelnuts and etc..,

Seeds that are rich in protein include pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and etc..,

3. Eggs

Thank eggs by making it a part of your protein diet. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, as one large egg provides almost 6 grams of protein (3.6g in the white and 2.7g in the yolk). An omelet with sprinkled cheese loaded with veggies serves as the best protein-rich dinner recipe. Tuck tacos or quesadilla with scrambled eggs. Use creativity in your fillings and I’m sure you will never get bored with eggs.

Note: Never eat undercooked eggs during pregnancy.

5. Meat

Generally, the more the leaner the meat, the more the protein it contains. A 3-ounce serving of cooked pork and lamb provides 22g and 23g of protein respectively.


A pregnant woman has to consume 27 milligrams of iron a day to make sure that there is adequate oxygen supply to the growing fetus. Pregnant women need more iron especially in the third trimester as low levels of iron doubles the risk of low-birth-weight and premature delivery. Foods that are rich in iron include dark leafy green vegetables, dried fruits, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, eggs, meat, fish, tofu, whole wheat bread, and etc… Since the body absorbs animal sources of iron better than plant sources, eating citrus fruits high in Vitamin C will help in high iron absorption rate for vegetarians.

Importance Of Calcium In Pregnancy:

Calcium is an important mineral that is used to build the baby’s bones and teeth. It further helps in the growth of your baby’s heart, muscles, nerves, blood-clotting abilities and etc..,.  According to the Academy of Nutrition And Dietetics, it is stated that if a pregnant woman does not consume enough calcium in her diet, then the baby draws it from her mother. Hence it is highly important for you to consume 1300 milligrams of calcium per day to meet the requirements of the growing baby.

1. Dairy Products

When it comes to dairy products, casein and whey are the two types of high-quality protein. You have to fulfill your need for 60 grams of protein along with calcium. All dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, butter, tofu, soy milk, almond milk and etc.., are rich in calcium, protein, Vitamin D, phosphorus, Vitamin B, magnesium, zinc, and etc.., Greek yogurt is highly beneficial for pregnant women as it contains more calcium compared to other dairy products. If you are lactose intolerant, then go eat vanilla ice cream as a ½ cup of it contains almost 85 milligrams of calcium.

2. Broccoli And Leafy Green Vegetables

Broccoli, kale, spinach, turnip greens, and dark green leafy vegetables contain pregnancy essential nutrients like Calcium, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, and potassium. These greens also prevent constipation in pregnant women and also benefit the immune system.

Note: Calcium carbonate provides the most calcium. But it requires extra stomach acid for efficient absorption. Hence, consume your calcium supplements (that contain calcium carbonate) after a meal.

Role Of Carbohydrates In Pregnancy:

The major source of energy in your diet is carbohydrates. Carbs are broken into simple sugars like glucose which further passes across the placenta and provides the required energy to support your growing baby. Low carb can affect your baby’s weight and overall development. Hence, eat high-nutritional quality carbohydrate food that is generally nutrient-dense. Spreading your intake of carbs throughout the day by consuming foods in appropriate sizes is important to manage your blood glucose levels. It is important to remember that a high blood glucose level during pregnancy is associated with gestational diabetes (in a mother-to-be) which can increase birth complications. Hence pregnant and breastfeeding women should maintain an intake of 175grams to 210grams of carb per day and not more than that.

Carbs To Avoid:

Try to avoid simple carbs as they offer less nutrition and quickly convert to sugars in your body. This includes chips, white bread, candies, and white rice.

Carbs To Choose:

Choose foods like whole-grain bread, baked potatoes, and fresh fruit. The more complex the carbohydrate is, the more nutritious it would be. Our body absorbs complex carbohydrates in a slower way which helps in regulating consistent blood sugar levels.

Other Essential Nutrients:

Zinc: Zinc plays a major role in cellular integrity, and several biological functions. Hence it is essential for fetal growth.

Sources Of Zinc: Chicken, shrimp, oysters, crab, and etc..,

Sources of Zinc (In vegetarian food): Nuts, sunflower seeds, onions, ginger, rice, pasta, wheat germ, tofu, cereals, eggs, and etc..,

Vitamin D: Supplements containing at least 10mcg of Vitamin D should be consumed daily. Hence, it is good to get exposed to summer sunlight which triggers the skin to synthesize Vitamin D naturally. But at the same time, limit your sun exposure as too much sunlight exposure can cause skin burn and allergies.

B12: B12 plays an important role in developing the baby’s brain. Sources of B12 include dairy products, plant milk, nutritional yeast, and breakfast cereals.

Iodine: Similarly Iodine is important for fetal brain development. Dried seaweed, iodized salt, cow’s milk, and yogurt are good sources of iodine for vegetarians.

DHA: DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that promotes the development of the eyes and brain of the fetus. This fatty acid is abundant in fish, algae, and fish oil. If you are a vegetarian, consume supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids.


Eating a lot of fruits during pregnancy boosts the health of both the mother and the growing baby. Fresh fruits fuel up your body with essential vitamins, nutrients, and even fiber. Include fruits such as apricots, pears, oranges, avocados, pomegranates, mangoes, guava, grapes, bananas, apples, berries, dried fruits, and grapes. Eating fruits during pregnancy minimizes the risk of certain diseases and defects thus nourishing you.

Say No-No To These Foods During Pregnancy:

1. Anything undercooked should be avoided. Like raw or undercooked fish, raw eggs, raw milk, and raw meat should be completely avoided.

2. Try to be far away from empty calorie foods like chips, cakes, biscuits, candies and etc.., These foods have very less nutritional content but have high sugar and fat content which inhibits maintaining healthy body weight.

3. Don’t eat swordfish, marlin, and shark as they have high-mercury.

4. Alcohol should be avoided completely during pregnancy as it is impacts the learning and abilities of children.

5. Never opt for uncooked or undercooked ready-prepared meals as there is a huge risk of infection from pathogens. It is important to ensure that your meals are cooked until piping hot.

6. Consume caffeine in moderation. Less than 200mg of caffeine a day should be good.

Weight Gain During Pregnancy:

For most the pregnant women, the calorie intake just grows by a few hundred calories and hence overeating is not good. According to Krieger, the recommended weight gain during the first trimester is 1 to 4 pounds. In the second trimester add 200 calories to your diet intake and in your third trimester, add 300 calories daily.

According to IOM (Institute Of Medicine), the guidelines of weight gain during a women’s full-term pregnancy is as below:

  1. Underweight women whose BMI (Body Mass Index) is below 18.5 should gain about 12.7 to 18 kg.
  2. Normal weight women with a BMI ranging in between 18.5-24.9 should gain about 11.3kg to 15.8 kg.
  3. Overweight women whose BMI is between 25.0 to 29.9 should gain a weight that is ranging in between 6.8 kg and 11.3 kg.
  4. Obese women with a BMI of more than 30.0 and above should gain 5 to 9kg.

Note: This weight differs if a woman is carrying twins.


Fill your plate this way: ½ a plate with fruits and vegetables, a ¼ plate with whole grains, and the rest quarter with lean protein. Make sure you consume a dairy product after every meal. According to the Journal Of Physiology, fats should not constitute more than 30% of pregnant women’s diet. Besides all the above things, it is important to maintain a healthy mind as a healthy mind means a healthy body and vice-versa. To check out the information regarding prenatal yoga, click here.


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