Nutrition during pregnancy matters a lot. Optimal diet is not important just for the well-being of the mother and baby, but also for reducing the risk of pregnancy complications and ensuring the baby’s long-term health. This bundle of wonderful effects comes with eating delicious, nutrient-dense foods every day.
3 Best Nutritional Sources
Eggs represent one of nature’s winning combination of healthy fats and high quality protein. Now that we know healthy fats are actually good and necessary, we are free to appreciate the richness of the yolk.
There is a greater need for healthy fats during pregnancy for the developing brain and neural system of the baby. Protein on the other hand is the building block for anything new in the human body, so taking enough during pregnancy is irreplaceable.
But eggs have a secret ingredient that many people don’t know about. The egg yolk is rich in choline, a fatty substance and the building block of one of the most important brain neurotransmitters called acetylcholine. Getting extra choline is ultra important for memory, verbal and logical reasoning and the ability to concentrate.
A serving of 100 gms of egg yolk contain 683 mg of choline, which is the highest amount of choline you can get from any whole food, for the least amount of calories.
Optimal amounts of choline can help infants and young children develop a robust memory for life, but research suggests that taking extra choline during pregnancy can take the baby’s brain power to another level.
Adequate choline can also protect from developing a fatty liver. Due to the lower estrogen levels, men and postmenopausal women need more choline in their diet in order to keep their liver in good health. Choline supplementation is finally used to boost cognitive and mental functions of seniors who struggle with senility or Alzheimer’s.
New research published in the scientific journal “Nutrients” suggests that avocados are a “unique nutrition source for pregnant and lactating women and, thus, should be considered for inclusion in future dietary recommendations for expecting and new mothers.”1
This suggestion is hardly a surprise considering the nutrient density of avocados. They contain healthy monounsaturated fats, omega 3s, polyphenols, more than 14 minerals, protein including all 18 essential amino acids; soluble fiber and a whole range of vitamins B-complex, C, E and K, to name a few. Avocados also provide the natural form of folic acid, called folate, which is essential for preventing birth defects.
Due to their high fat content, avocados have naturally low glycemic index and therefore do well for balancing blood sugar, an essential bonus for women in risk for developing or already having gestational diabetes.
Legumes form the basis of Mediterranean diet. Chickpeas, lentils and all varieties of beans, offer a tasty combo of protein and complex carbohydrates. Due to their high protein content, legumes are a great alternative to animal protein and a winning staple for vegetarians during pregnancy.
Apart from that, they provide minerals, such as calcium, iron and zinc and serious amounts of fiber. The latter is emerging as a pretty important addition to every pregnancy diet thanks to its surprising potential to protect the baby from developing asthma.
Researchers from the Department of Immunology at Monash University in Australia have found that a diet rich in fiber during pregnancy can alter in a positive way a woman’s gut bacteria. This, results in the production of anti-inflammatory substances that subsequently suppress asthma-related genes in the baby.2
The catch with legumes is the fact that they must be cooked correctly, if you are going to harness the nutritional benefits sans any digestive problems. Like whole grains, legumes must be soaked overnight before cooking.
This important step makes them easier to digest, easier and faster to cook and releases more nutrients. Unsoaked legumes are very difficult to break down in our digestive track and they also contain anti-nutrients, which block the absorption of minerals.
Pregnancy is a time that we must get the most out of our nutrition, without putting the body through excessive physiological stress. By adding this simple step in cooking your legumes, you can indulge in tasty tacos, while giving your growing baby all the nutrients she needs.
|↑1||Comerford, Kevin B., Keith T. Ayoob, Robert D. Murray, and Stephanie A. Atkinson. “The Role of Avocados in Maternal Diets during the Periconceptional Period, Pregnancy, and Lactation.” Nutrients 8, no. 5 (2016): 313.|
|↑2||Thorburn, Alison N., Craig I. McKenzie, Sj Shen, Dragana Stanley, Laurence Macia, Linda J. Mason, Laura K. Roberts et al. “Evidence that asthma is a developmental origin disease influenced by maternal diet and bacterial metabolites.” Nature communications 6 (2015).|