10 (surprising!) Prenatal Power Foods
Foods that provide the nutrition you need for a healthy pregnancy.
Serving Size: 1 cup, raw
Leeks are the vegetable equivalent of a super multivitamin-mineral tablet. They are a nondairy source of calcium (55 milligrams per cup), which is essential for the development of your baby’s bones. Plus, calcium may help combat some common symptoms of pregnancy, including irritability, insomnia and back and leg pains. One serving of leeks also contains close to 60 micrograms of folate as well as 0.2 milligrams of vitamin B6 (about 10 percent of your RDA), which is necessary for your body to metabolize energy from the carbohydrates, fats and proteins in your diet. There’s also evidence that vitamin B6 can help alleviate morning sickness.
There’s more: In one serving of leeks, there are 40 micrograms of vitamin K, 2 micrograms of iron and 0.4 micrograms of manganese. Vitamin K is needed for proper blood-clot formation and healthy bone growth; and manganese helps support normal skeletal development in the baby.
Tasty Tips Leeks have a very mild, sweet flavor, making them especially appealing when you’re suffering from morning sickness. If your stomach’s sensitive but you can’t face plain broth, try adding sliced leeks and shiitake mushrooms with minced fresh ginger. To prepare leeks, cut off the fibrous green tops and the base, then slice the stem in half. Rinse thoroughly to remove any hidden grit, and cut into small pieces.
Serving Size: 1 medium artichoke
Feeling sluggish? Reach for an artichoke. This vegetable is a great nonmeat source of iron, which is an energizing nutrient. A medium boiled artichoke has about 1 milligram of iron (about 12 percent of your recommended daily intake). There’s another energizing nutrient in artichokes: folate. (A medium-size artichoke has 100 micrograms.) Besides helping to prevent birth defects, folate helps your body metabolize proteins, the building blocks for the hormones and enzymes that help your body keep going.
During your pregnancy, you may suffer from constipation, which can be alleviated with some extra fiber in your diet. Artichokes are wonderful sources of fiber, with 10 grams each. And they’re often recommended to soothe indigestion, another common pregnancy complaint.
Tasty Tips For a truly decadent delight, dip steamed artichoke leaves in melted organic butter mixed with freshly squeezed lemon juice. If you use oil-based jarred artichokes, enjoy them in a salad and use the oil as part of the dressing. Canned artichokes are almost always packed in water, but have a lot of added sodium; rinse them before eating.
7. Pumpkin Seeds
Serving Size: ½ cup
Part of the healing that occurs on a regular basis in your body during pregnancy is the repair of muscles. As your uterus grows, your back, abdominal and hip muscles are required to stretch in new ways. With sufficient protein in your diet, these muscles will be better armed to keep up with their new tasks. Adding pumpkin seeds to your diet will help boost your intake of protein; there are 5 grams of protein per serving. These tasty seeds also contains sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and many other minerals involved in muscle health and hydration. One of the most important minerals required for healing is zinc—1 cup of pumpkin seeds provides close to half of your daily needs.
One serving of pumpkin seeds contains more than 25 percent of your recommended daily intake of magnesium, which helps speed your ability to use carbohydrates, fats and proteins as sources of energy. Pumpkin seeds are also a vegetarian source of iron, with about 2 milligrams per cup.
Tasty Tips Research has shown that roasted seeds have far more protein, minerals and fiber than raw ones. You can buy pumpkin seeds raw and roast them at home: Melt organic butter or heat macadamia nut oil or olive oil and toss in the pumpkin seeds to coat. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season with turmeric, garlic or cayenne pepper. Roast at 300° F until crisp.