Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy
If you are a mom-to-be, good nutrition habits are very important to your baby’s health as well as your own! Here are some tips on smart foods to choose, and certain foods to avoid during this special time.
Foods to Choose
1. Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, like lowfat milk, yogurt, reduced fat cheese, and fortified orange juice. Pregnant adult women need at least 1,000 mg of calcium and 600 IU of vitamin D daily.
Both calcium and vitamin D from foods are very important for your own bone and teeth health, as well as for your growing baby. Calcium is also needed for healthy circulatory and nervous systems, as well as proper muscle functioning.
2. Fruits and vegetables to provide important vitamins, minerals and fiber. Aim for 5 servings of vegetables daily.
Leafy green vegetables like spinach are a good source of folic acid, an important B vitamin that helps prevent serious birth defects in growing babies. Try to fill one half of your plate with vegetables and fruits at most meals to ensure you are getting more of the nutrients you need.
3. Lean meats such as chicken, turkey, eggs, beans and some types of seafood to boost your body with iron and protein.
Seafood is a great source of protein, B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids that our bodies need, but is often feared by pregnant women because of potential mercury exposure. However studies show many types of seafood are safe for pregnant women to eat, up to twice a week, without harmful effects. These safe seafood choices include: shrimp, crab, salmon, pollock, catfish, cod and tilapia. Canned light tuna is also considered safe, up to twice a week. However, make sure to cook all fresh and frozen seafood thoroughly before consuming.
Foods to Avoid
1. Avoid seafood high in mercury.
Swordfish, mackerel, tilefish and shark contain high amounts of mercury and should be avoided during pregnancy. But since other choices of seafood are lower in mercury (see Foods to Choose), and contain omega-3 fatty acids along with other important nutrients, seafood altogether shouldn’t be avoided.
2. Avoid cold deli meats and undercooked meats.
When cooking meats such as beef, pork and chicken at home, make sure to cook them until they are well-done. If the juices run clear and there is no pink inside, the meat is well done. Also, do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot. Undercooked meats and processed meats might contain listeria, a type of bacteria, which could be harmful to you and your baby.
3. Avoid unpasteurized foods.
Unpasteurized foods may also contain the harmful bacteria, listeria. Do not eat soft cheeses such as feta, brie, blue cheese, and Mexican-style cheeses such as queso fresco unless they have labels that state they are pasteurized products. Do not drink unpasteurized milk or juices either.
For more information on which foods to avoid during pregnancy, check out www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/pregnancy