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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.

14. Whole grains

Packed with vitamins, fiber, and plant compounds, whole grains help you meet the calorie needs with the progressing pregnancy. They are also rich in vitamins, fiber and magnesium.

How much to take: 6 to 9 servings every day

Ways to consume: Whole grain bread; cooked whole grain pasta; cooked brown rice; whole wheat crackers; popped popcorn.

15. Dried fruits

They are high in fiber, calories, vitamins and minerals including folate, potassium and iron. They supply glucose, nutrients and calories to the body and are the best alternative to junk snacks.

How much to take: 1 cup a day

Ways to consume: Choose dried apricots, raisins, cranberries, cherries, prunes and dates. Avoid candied varieties.

16. Greek yogurt

It is a better source of protein than regular yogurt. The healthy bacteria in it help combat unhealthy bacteria and may lower the risk of infections, allergies, and preterm labor. It also contains calcium necessary for the baby’s bone and teeth development.

How much to take: 1 serving (1 cup) every day.

17. Carrots and peppers

Both are rich in beta-carotene that converts into vitamin A and is essential for your baby’s skin, eyes, bones and organ development. They are also a great source of vitamins C, B6 and fiber necessary for pregnancy. However, make sure your overall intake of vitamin A is not more than the RDA.

How much to take: 3 servings (1 ½ cups) a day

Ways to consume: Perfect to munch with or without dip; add to salads, meat or in stir-fries and pasta dishes.

18. Oranges

They provide you with calcium, vitamins C, folic acid, potassium, and fiber, folic acid, potassium, and fiber. The 90% water content in the fruit helps you keep hydrated during pregnancy.

How much to take: 1 medium fruit every day

Ways to consume: Eat in its natural form; plain orange juice; mix with banana or any other fruit smoothie; popsicles.

19. Pumpkin seeds

This nutritional powerhouse contains magnesium, copper, manganese, zinc and many other minerals that promote muscle health. They also boost your protein and iron intake.

How much to take: 1 ounce of seeds every day

Ways to consume: Eat them roasted or salted; as topping on salads and soups.

20. Water

When you're pregnant, you need more water than the average person in order to form amniotic fluid, produce extra blood, build new tissue, carry nutrients, enhance digestion, and flush out wastes and toxins

Here are just some more the benefits of staying hydrated during your pregnancy:

• Decreases constipation/hemorrhoids

• Reduces swelling

• Softens skin

• Increases energy

• Keeps you cooler

• Decreases risk of urinary tract infections

• Decreases risk of preterm labor and preterm birth

It is recommended to drink 8-12 glasses of water a day, or 2.5 liters. If your urine is pale or colorless, you're drinking is on track.

What you eat and how much you eat affect not only your health, but also your baby’s growth and development. Though you do not need any extra calories during the first trimester, it increases by an additional 300 calories during the second and third trimester.

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