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The best 20 foods to add during pregnancy to stay healthy and also ensure healthy baby's growth

1. Dairy products

Dairy products are an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, protein, phosphorus, and other

essential vitamins and minerals. All these nutrients play a significant role in the baby’s

growth and birth weight.

How much to take: 2 to 3 servings a day. Ways to consume: A glass of milk; a bowl of cereal

with milk; a bowl of yogurt; soups and casseroles with shredded cheese.

Here are the 20 foods that you may add to your pregnancy diet to stay

healthy and also ensure healthy baby’s growth

2. Legumes

Beans, peas, lentils, and soybeans are nutritional powerhouses. They contain protein, iron, folate, potassium, magnesium, and essential fatty acids, and help prevent heart ailments, diabetes, and overweight

How much to take: 5 servings (or 3 cups) a week

Ways to consume: Add legumes to stews, soups and stir-fries; puree to make dips and spreads; munch on peanuts or soy nuts. You may use canned or dried legumes.

3. Avocados

They are rich in fiber, vitamins B, K, C and E, potassium, and copper. They also contain healthy fats (monounsaturated fats) that help in fetal skin, brain, and tissue development

How much to take: Half of a medium sized avocado every day

Ways to consume: Guacamole (avocado-based) could be used as a dip or spread for chips, wraps, crackers, and sandwiches; avocado with baked egg; roasted avocado; avocado salad.

4. Sweet potatoes

They are a good source of beta-carotene that your body converts into vitamin A. This vitamin is essential for the growth and differentiation of cells and tissues in the fetus. Sweet potatoes are also rich in fiber that reduces blood sugars, makes you feel full and aids in digestion.

How much to take: 1 cup a day meets the RDA of vitamin A

Ways to consume: Bake them in the oven and drizzle with olive oil; boil them and have with any dip or sauce.

5. Eggs

They are a great source of amino acids and protein. The essential vitamin choline helps promote brain health and prevents neural tube defects in the baby . The omega-3 fats support vision and brain development.

How much to take: 1 egg a day

Ways to consume: Omelet, frittata, boiled eggs with salad.

6. Salmon

It is packed with essential omega-3s namely EPA and DHA , both of which are necessary for fetal vision and brain development.

How much to take: 2 servings a week

Ways to consume: Eat it grilled, pan fried or smoked

7. Lean meat

It is an excellent source of protein needed to stabilize your blood sugar levels. Also rich in iron, it supports blood and oxygen supply to the baby. Iron also helps in strengthening the fetal brain.

If you are not a meat-eater, you may replace it with dark leafy greens, quinoa, dried beans, tofu, and lentils.

How much to take: 1 serving a day

Ways to consume: Grilled chicken salad, turkey sandwich or quinoa and veggies. Avoid processed and cold cuts.

Grass-Fed Is Good For You

Grass-fed meat is best quality meat as the animal doesn’t consume food that is processed. With that in mind, grass-fed meat has excellent nutritional value compared with meat from animals given feeds or grass with pesticides. Listed below are the benefits of consuming grass-fed meat to your health:

• Contains Fewer Calories One of the benefits that you could get from consuming grass-fed meat is that it contains fewer calories, which are highly ideal if you’re trying to lose weight and get more protein into your body.

• Has More Healthy Fats Grass-fed meat contains more omega-3 fatty acids that are responsible for helping you lower blood pressure; cope with depression; promote focus; reduce the chances of heart attack, cardiac arrest, and stroke; and lower triglycerides, to name a few.

• Helps to Fight Off Cancer Grass-fed meat contains a fair amount of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) which is responsible for fighting off cancer. What makes CLA unique is that it’s the only anti-cancer nutrient you could get from dairy and beef.

8. Fortified breakfast cereals

They are multi-grain cereals enriched with additional vitamins and minerals. Whole grain cereals contain dietary fibers that satisfy hunger pangs.

How much to take: Depends on the type of fortified cereal

Ways to consume: Choose cereals containing high fiber, iron and folic acid. Add milk to a bowl of cereals and top with nuts, fruits, and berries.

9. Bananas

They are rich in potassium and provide a quick dose of energy to fight fatigue and prevent muscle cramps. They are also easy on the stomach when you feel nauseous.

How much to take: It is safe to eat bananas every day.

Ways to consume: Add them in a cereal; make a smoothie along with yogurt and berries.

10. Cod liver oil

It is obtained from oily fish liver, especially cod. The oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA that are necessary for brain and eye development of the baby. It is also an excellent source of vitamin D that works against preeclampsia.

How much to take: 1 to 2 soft gels a day

Ways to consume: Available in the form of capsules; you should have them upon your doctor’s recommendation.

11. Oatmeal

It contains significant amounts of fiber, iron, B vitamins, and other minerals. The complex carbs and dietary fiber can help in keeping you full. Oatmeal is also a source of energy and helps reduce cholesterol levels.

How much to take: ½ cup every day.

Ways to consume: Boil it with some milk; cook plain and add maple syrup or jelly; add to muffins, pancakes, cookies, or cakes.

12. Leafy vegetables

Dark green leaves such as spinach and kale contain many nutrients such as vitamins A, C, K, iron, calcium, potassium, folate, fiber, zinc and niacin. They are also rich in antioxidants, and plant components that aid in digestion and the immune system. The fibers help address constipation, and folic acid prevents birth defects in babies.

How much to take: 3 to 5 servings a day.

Ways to consume: Sauté with other vegetables; add to sandwich; mix with pasta or soups.

13. Berries

They are packed with healthy carbs, water, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C. All these help pregnant women increase their nutrient and water intake. They have a low glycemic index value and are not known to cause any elevation in blood sugar levels.

How much to take: 1 to 2 cups a day

Ways to consume: Include them as toppings to cereal or oatmeal; make a smoothie; add to yogurt.