Almonds already enjoy the status of a super food across many countries and cultures. And why not? It is a healthy nut and makes for a great snacking option. Almonds are loaded with protein, fiber, iron, zinc, vitamins A, B6, and E, calcium, manganese, magnesium, copper, folic acid and riboflavin.1 It is a very nutritious food to meet the increased nutritional needs of a woman during pregnancy.
Though old wives’ tales of nut consumption leading to nut allergies in the unborn baby may have prevented you from trying the pregnancy super food, but this is hogwash because there is no scientific data to support this. There are a lot of theories about what and what not to eat during pregnancy. The only reason you should avoid almonds during pregnancy is if YOU are allergic to them. Then there are also some theories about whether to eat them raw or soaked during those nine months. So if you have been wondering if you could eat almonds during pregnancy or if almonds are good for pregnant ladies, you’re about to have your doubts cleared.
Benefits Of Almonds During Pregnancy
1. Good Source Of Folic Acid
Almonds or soaked almonds are one of the best natural sources of folic acid. So pregnant women can munch on them for the proper development of the fetus. It will greatly help the brain and neurological system of the unborn baby.2
You also need adequate folic acid before and during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects that may lead to incurable physiological problems in the baby. These include improper spine formation, stillbirth or paralysis of the lower limbs. So if you are pregnant or are planning to conceive, having almonds or folic acid supplements is a good plan.3
Pregnant women normally need about 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.4
2. Enhances Metabolic Response
When it comes to high-risk pregnancies, like in the case of obese or diabetic women, you don’t want to take any chances. Research has shown that babies of such women are at greater risk for obesity and metabolic disorders later in life. That’s where almonds come in–they provide a healthy source of dietary fat and carbs. They reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, and blood sugar.5
3. Prevents Excessive Pregnancy Pounds
One of the biggest challenges that pregnancy throws at you is the weight gain. It becomes increasingly difficult to manage if you are already overweight or obese, to begin with. What more, pregnancy hunger pangs and cravings make it an even tougher job. Almonds are high on the satiety scale and keep you fuller for longer. According to a study on 20 obese women with high-risk pregnancies, it was observed that eating 2 oz (56 gms) almonds promoted satiety by decreasing the hunger hormone ghrelin and increasing the appetite-reducing hormone leptin. The study concluded that almonds may play a role in not only improving satiety and reducing appetite, but also facilitate healthy maternal weight gain during pregnancy.6
4. Supplies Iron To Your Baby
Almonds are rich in iron7, with 1 oz (28 gms) fulfilling 6 percent of your daily requirement. One of the many benefits of almonds during pregnancy is that you can meet the high requirements of iron at this stage in your life. Since iron requirements are especially higher after the first trimester, you better have your reserves ready. The amounts that can be absorbed from even an optimal pregnancy diet, are less than the iron you will need in the later stages of pregnancy. A woman must enter pregnancy with iron stores of not less than 300mg to meet the baby’s requirements fully.8
5. Protects Your Child From Future Allergies
Another common belief is that consumption of tree nuts like almond and peanuts during pregnancy lead to allergic disease development and asthma in children. According to a study, however, maternal nut intake during pregnancy was inversely associated with asthma in infants at 18 months of age. Higher tree nut intake was found to be inversely related to medication-related asthma diagnosis in children. The study concluded that consuming peanuts and tree nuts like almonds during pregnancy might even decrease the risk of allergic disease development in children. So it is absolutely safe to go nuts for almonds and the like during pregnancy.9
Almonds also have a high content of vitamin E, which also protects children from asthma when the mom-to-be consumes it during pregnancy. A study examining 1861 children born to women recruited at pregnancy was conducted. The children were examined at 5 years of age and it was found that low maternal consumption of vitamin E and zinc (also present in almonds) was associated with differences in the risk of developing childhood wheeze and asthma.10
Then, What About Almond Milk And Almond Butter?
Almond milk is all the rage now and is a great alternative (like soy milk) for those who are lactose intolerant. It is prepared by blending almonds pre-soaked in water for one or two days. Almond milk is a thick, creamy off-white liquid. You can make it at home or buy it at grocery stores. It is lighter than regular cow’s milk and has a slightly creamy and nutty flavor, which tastes great with cereals. Though it is low in calcium and protein when compared to cow’s milk, it can be had if you are lactose intolerant or have developed an aversion to milk or the smell of it during pregnancy.11
Almond butter, when compared to regular butter and other nut butters like peanut butter has an edge–its fiber content. Almond butter is nothing but almonds blended at high speed to form a thick and smooth spread. While dairy butter is pure fat, almond butter packs in protein, fat, carbs and fiber. It also has significantly more fiber, calcium, and potassium than other butters like sunflower seed or peanut butter. It also has more iron, manganese, and vitamin E, and less saturated fat than peanut butter. Thanks to its nutrient profile, almond butter is excellent for expecting mothers.12
Almonds and its various derivatives are excellent during pregnancy–not just for expectant mothers but their unborn babies, too. So indulge in the goodness of this healthy nut for a healthy baby and you.
|↑1||Full Report (All Nutrients): 12061, Nuts, almonds, USDA.|
|↑2||Foods rich in folic acid and vitamin B12, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health.|
|↑3||MRC Vitamin Study Research Group. “Prevention of neural tube defects: results of the Medical Research Council Vitamin Study.” The lancet 338, no. 8760 (1991): 131-137.|
|↑4||Folate Intake in Pregnant Women, CDC.|
|↑5||Lesser, Mary, Lisa Sawrey-Kubicek, Kasuen Mauldin, and Janet King. “The Effect of Almond Consumption on Postprandial Metabolic Response in High-Risk Pregnant Women.” The FASEB Journal 29, no. 1 Supplement (2015): 912-12.|
|↑6||Henderson, Mary, Lisa Sawrey-Kubicek, Kasuen Mauldin, and Janet King. “The effect of almond consumption on satiety and the postprandial metabolic response in high-risk pregnant women (1040.5).” The FASEB Journal 28, no. 1 Supplement (2014): 1040-5.|
|↑7||Iron in Diet, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑8||Bothwell, Thomas H. “Iron requirements in pregnancy and strategies to meet them.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 72, no. 1 (2000): 257s-264s.|
|↑9||Maslova, Ekaterina, Charlotta Granström, Susanne Hansen, Sesilje B. Petersen, Marin Strøm, Walter C. Willett, and Sjurdur F. Olsen. “Peanut and tree nut consumption during pregnancy and allergic disease in children—should mothers decrease their intake? Longitudinal evidence from the Danish National Birth Cohort.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 130, no. 3 (2012): 724-732.|
|↑10||Devereux, Graham, Stephen W. Turner, Leone CA Craig, Geraldine McNeill, Sheelagh Martindale, Paul J. Harbour, Peter J. Helms, and Anthony Seaton. “Low maternal vitamin E intake during pregnancy is associated with asthma in 5-year-old children.” American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine 174, no. 5 (2006): 499-507.|
|↑11||Cox, Jean T., and Sharon T. Phelan. “Nutrition during pregnancy.” Obstetrics and gynecology clinics of North America 35, no. 3 (2008): 369-383.|
|↑12||Gorrepati, Kalyani, S. Balasubramanian, and Pitam Chandra. “Plant based butters.” Journal of food science and technology 52, no. 7 (2015): 3965-3976.|