What are healthy pregnancy diet requirements?

Healthy pregnancy diet requirements differ from usual because you are eating for two. Examining the important requirements helps you grow in awareness as you eat your meals each day.

A healthy diet for pregnancy includes additional folic acid, iron, calcium and protien. A good pregnancy diet is most critical to building a healthy baby.

Folic Acid is the first key to a healthy pregnancy diet - even before you are pregnant in fact. The risk of neural tube defects - defects in the brain or spine is greatly reduced when you have an adequate supply of folic acid in your body. Because the neural tube closes between the 24th and 28th day after conception many women start taking folic acid before they even become pregnant. Folic acid is also found in vegetables and eggs.

healthy pregnancy diet - calcium in almonds

Calcium is vital to a healthy diet for pregnancy for the formation of your baby's bones and teeth. Interestingly, if you don't consume enough (approximately 1500 mg/day) then your body will give your own calcium stores to baby and you will be left short. Some long-term consequences for you might be osteoporosis and postpartum depression.

Photo courtesy of HealthAliciousNess

Foods high in calcium are yogurt, milk, cheese and almonds. In fact almonds are an excellent supplement to your calcium intake as less than 1/2 cup contains 250 mg. of calcium compared to 1 cup of whole milk containing 300 mg. Calcium is also found in sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.

Protein too needs special attention in a healthy pregnancy diet. Pregnant women need approximately 10 more grams of protein/day equaling about 60 grams.

This is important to support the growth of cells and tissues in both mom and baby. I also found I was more nauseous if I didn't have enough protein.

Foods with high complete protein value are quinoa, yogurt, milk, cheese, eggs, meat, poultry, fish and soy (tofu). There are many high quality incomplete proteins also that don't contain all the amino acids on their own but when combined with other kinds of incomplete protein result in a healthy complete protein.

Some excellent foods that fit into this category of incomplete protein are:

  • nuts - peanuts, almonds, cashews
  • seeds - pumpkin, sunflower, sesame
  • legumes - lentils, beans, peas
  • grains - whole wheat, rice

Complementary proteins to combine for a complete protein are grains with legumes or nuts or seeds with legumes.

When I was pregnant, and even now as I continue to breastfeed my son I use these combinations to get the extra protein I need. I do this because I don't love meat and don't want to consume more dairy.

Some combination's I enjoy are hummus - which combines sesame seeds and chickpeas, peanut butter on bread - which combines legumes with grains as well as seed butters on bread - combining seeds and grains.

healthy pregnancy diet - leafy greens

Iron also is essential in a healthy pregnancy diet (approximately 27-30 mg/day) for the healthy formation of your baby's blood and keeps you feeling healthy as well. Foods rich in iron are meat, fish, eggs, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils as well as seeds - pumpkin, sesame and sunflower.

A good tip for better absorption of iron is to eat or drink something citrus with your meal - like having a fresh lemon drink. Drinking tea, though, with your meal prevents iron absorption.

Photo courtesy of lowjumpingfrog

Yes, a healthy diet for pregnancy is vital to the health and comfort of both you and your baby.

With everything you have to think about when expecting your baby, pregnancy diet is not something to skimp on. Following your healthy pregnancy diet requirements will help build a baby with optimum health.

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