Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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For example, sweet potatoes and yellow peaches provide more carotenoids--a class of phytochemical that's vital for fetal development--than white peaches or potatoes. Deep green romaine lettuce has more vitamin C and folate (which protects against neural-tube defects such as spina bifida) than iceberg lettuce, its paler cousin.
3) Limit foods that are high in salt.
Salt intake and water retention go hand-in-hand, especially when you're pregnant. For some women, high sodium intake may lead to potential pregnancy complications, such as high blood pressure. High-salt foods are, by and large, those that are highly processed: canned soups, frozen dinners and boxed grain dishes. Processed foods are generally higher in the ingredients you don't want more of--fat, sugar, salt and calories--and lower in important nutrients and vitamins.
4) Avoid foods made with chemical additives.
Although most chemical food additives (such as artificial colors, flavors and refined sugars) are believed to be safe for a developing fetus, why take the chance? Foods made with chemicals are typically not your most nutritious or wholesome choices.
Artificial sweeteners, for instance, are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but some nutrition experts advise pregnant women to stay away from them. They believe not only are chemical additives unsafe for the fetus once they cross the placenta, but they also can cause stomach problems, migraines and insomnia in adults (pregnant or not). Basic rule of thumb: The more unpronounceable additives you find in a food's ingredient list, the less nutritious it is--for both of you. For information on other substances you should avoid during pregnancy, go to fitpregnancy.com/detoxdiet.
5) Eat grass-fed and hormone-free meat and poultry.
Protein is the building block of everything in the body, from DNA to neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) to muscle--and during pregnancy, you need a variety of protein-rich foods. One good source is hormone-free meat and poultry. "The use of anabolic hormones is supposed to be carefully regulated, but in fact, those regulations are not always followed," Schettler says. "There are reports of measurable residual hormones in meat." Visit certifiedhumane.com/where.asp to find a retailer of hormone- and antibiotic-free meat in your area.
You also can get protein from beans, nuts, grains, legumes and soy products. If you don't eat red meat, one of the best sources of iron, be sure to consume other iron-rich foods, such as iron-fortified cereal, dried apricots and figs, blackstrap molasses and quinoa.