The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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As you know, folate, fiber and iron are essential nutrients for you and your growing baby. What you may not know is that you can get all three by eating chives. Or, how about adding figs to your diet to boost your calcium intake? From The 100 Healthiest Foods to Eat During Pregnancy, here are 10 unexpected (and delicious!) foods that will provide the nutrition you need during pregnancy.
Serving Size: 1 cup (about 8 dried figs)
There’s a whopping 5 grams of fiber in just 1 cup of dried figs. Plus, figs are a great nondairy source of calcium; one serving contains about a quarter of your daily needs (1,000 milligrams). And while your teeth may not appreciate the high sugar content, they will benefit from the potassium, phosphorus and magnesium in figs. These tooth-supporting nutrients aren’t just great for your own mouth; they are essential to the 32 teeth forming below the gums in your growing baby’s mouth.
Figs are also a good source of iron. Iron deficiency can cause anemia, especially during pregnancy, thanks to the increase in your blood volume and growing demands by the baby for iron to produce millions of red blood cells. Stewed figs contain about 3 milligrams of iron (about 10 percent of your daily recommended intake) in 1 cup. The same number of figs will also provide your body with 23 micrograms of vitamin K, which is needed for proper blood clotting and bone formation.
Tasty Tips If you don’t like the seedy texture of dried figs, try fresh ones. Or, purée them, then use the purée as a sweetener or fat substitute in recipes. You can make fig purée by combining 8 ounces of dried figs with 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 cup of water in a blender.
Serving Size: 2 tablespoons, chopped
Seen as a garnish, chives tend to be overlooked. But, these small, mild-tasting green onions are a source of folate (the synthetic form is folic acid), iron, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium and magnesium. Folic acid may be the most important nutrient of the first trimester. Without it, your baby has an increased risk for structural defects that could be fatal. There are 6.4 micrograms of folate per 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh chives.
For proper iron absorption, your body needs vitamin C. Chives give you both—about 3.5 milligrams of vitamin C and 0.1 milligrams of iron per 2 tablespoons. Plus, your sprinkle of chives has about 12 milligrams of magnesium; this mineral can help alleviate constipation, a common symptom during pregnancy. In fact, magnesium is involved in more than 300 cellular reactions, making it very important to your health and your growing baby’s.
Tasty Tips Chives are easy to find at your local market, and they’re also easy to grow at home. Sprinkle some on your salad or soup. Or go with the all-time favorite use and sprinkle them on your baked potato. More great ways to eat them: Mix chopped chives into softened cream cheese before you spread it on a bagel, cracker, tortilla chip or slice of bread. Stir them into dips or add them to hummus.
3. Pinto Beans
Serving Size: ½ cup, dried
Pinto beans are one of the healthiest foods on Earth. There is 1 milligram of copper (about 100 percent of your recommended daily amount), 5 milligrams of iron (about 19 percent of your RDA) and more than 400 milligrams of phosphorus (that’s more than half of your daily needs) in 1∕2 cup. Copper aids in forming red blood cells; iron is important for making hemoglobin, the substance in your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to your baby; and, phosphorus works with calcium to ensure that your baby’s bones and teeth are growing properly.
Pinto beans are also packed with fiber; one serving contains 15 grams. (As a pregnant woman, you need about 28 grams of fiber each day.) One of the best strategies for helping to avoid the nausea and vomiting commonly experienced during the first trimester is to keep your belly feeling satisfied and full. Foods with a high fiber content can be an ally in your battle against morning sickness.
Tasty Tips The healthiest (and the cheapest) way to eat beans is to buy dried beans and soak them overnight first. If you are using canned pinto beans, be sure to rinse them well first to remove the extra sodium. For bean dip, cream a can of pintos in your blender or food processor. (Use a little veggie broth if you need to add liquid.) Then, pour the beans into a microwave-safe container and heat them.