Pregnancy Superfoods

Add these choice foods to your diet to boost your pregnancy nutrition.

From the WebMD Archives

During pregnancy, healthy foods provide the optimum mix of baby-building nutrients. Starting in the second trimester, you'll need about 300 additional calories in your diet every day.

Here are some choice foods to add to your pregnancy diet, making those extra calories count by providing a variety of nutrients that benefit you and your child.

Beans

  • Why: Chickpeas, lentils, black beans, and soybeans supply fiber, protein, iron, folate, calcium, and zinc.

  • Enjoy: In chili and soups, salads, and pasta dishes; as hummus with whole-grain crackers or in roll-up sandwiches.

Beef

  • Why: Lean cuts of beef, such as top sirloin steak, pack protein, vitamins B6, B12, and niacin as well as zinc and iron in highly absorbable forms. Beef is also concentrated in choline, required for brain development and peak cognitive powers.

  • Enjoy: Add lean ground beef to pasta sauces, use in tacos, as burgers, in stir-fry dishes, and in chili.

Berries

  • Why: They're packed with carbohydrates, vitamin C, potassium, folate, fiber, and fluid. The phytonutrients in berries are naturally occurring beneficial plant compounds that protect cells from damage.

  • Enjoy: On top of whole-grain cereal, in smoothies made with yogurt or milk, in pancakes, and in salads. Layer yogurt with berries and crunchy whole-grain cereal for a dessert parfait.

Broccoli

  • Why: For the folate, fiber, calcium, lutein, zeaxanthin, carotenoids to foster healthy vision, and potassium for fluid balance and normal blood pressure. Broccoli also contains the raw materials for vitamin A production in the body.

  • Enjoy: As part of pasta and stir-fry dishes, steamed and topped with a smattering of olive oil, pureed and added to soups, or roasted: chop broccoli into bite-sized pieces, coat lightly with olive oil and roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until tender, about 15 minutes.

Cheese (pasteurized)

  • Why: Cheese supplies concentrated amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium for your bones and your baby's, plus vitamin B12 and protein (use reduced-fat varieties, such as Cabot 50% Light Cheddar to save on calories, fat, and cholesterol).

  • Enjoy: As snacks with whole-grain crackers or fruit, sprinkled on top of soups, in salads, sandwiches, and omelets.

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Eggs

  • Why: Eggs supply the gold-standard of protein because they provide all of the amino acids you and your baby need to thrive. They also include more than a dozen vitamins and minerals, such as choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Certain brands supply the omega-3 fats baby needs for brain development and peak vision, so check the label.

  • Enjoy: In omelets and frittatas, in salads and sandwiches, in homemade waffles, crepes, and whole-grain French toast, as snacks, hard-cooked, or scrambled.

Milk

  • Why: It's an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D -- bone-building nutrients mother and child require every day. Milk also packs protein, vitamin A, and B vitamins.

  • Enjoy: Plain or flavored, in smoothies made with fruit, over whole-grain cereal and fruit, and in pudding. Prepare oatmeal in the microwave with milk instead of water.

Orange Juice (fortified)

  • Why: Orange juice with added calcium and vitamin D contains the same levels of these nutrients as milk. Plus, orange juice supplies hefty doses of vitamin C, potassium, and folate.

  • Enjoy: Plain or frozen as pops or ice cubes, as part of smoothies.

Pork Tenderloin

  • Why: Pork tenderloin is as lean as boneless, skinless chicken breast, and it serves up the B vitamins thiamin and niacin, vitamin B6, zinc, iron, and choline.

  • Enjoy: Grilled, broiled, or baked.

Salmon

  • Why: For the protein, B vitamins, and the omega-3 fats that promote brain development and vision in babies.

  • Enjoy: Grilled or broiled, use canned salmon in salads and sandwiches.

Sweet Potato

  • Why: Sweet potatoes pack vitamin C, folate, fiber, and carotenoids -- compounds your body converts to vitamin A. They also supply potassium in large amounts.

  • Enjoy: Baked, sliced cold, cooked, peeled potatoes for snacks and side dishes, mashed with orange juice, and roasted: slice washed sweet potato into wedges, coat lightly with canola oil, and roast on a baking sheet at 400¢ª Fahrenheit until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Whole Grains

  • Why: Enriched whole grains are fortified with folic acid and other B vitamins, iron, and zinc. Whole grains contain more fiber and trace nutrients than processed grains, such as white bread, white rice, and white flour.

  • Enjoy: Oatmeal for breakfast, whole-grain breads for sandwiches, brown rice, wild rice, whole-wheat pasta, or quinoa for dinner, popcorn, or whole-grain crackers for snacks.

Yogurt (plain low-fat or fat-free)

  • Why: For the protein, calcium, B vitamins, and zinc. Plain yogurt contains more calcium than milk.

  • Enjoy: Stir in: fruit preserves or honey, fresh or dried fruit, or crunchy whole-grain cereal. Use plain yogurt to top cooked sweet potatoes or to make smoothies.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on April 30, 2008

Sources

SOURCES: Institute of Medicine, USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory.

© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.

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