When you’re pregnant, eating right takes center stage. True, there’s comfort in knowing that in most cases, prescription prenatal supplements provide what your diet lacks on any given day. But supplements are just what the name implies, says Barbara Gollman, R.D., author of The Phytopia Cookbook: A World of Plant-Based Cuisine (Phytopia Inc., 1998). “While important to a developing baby, supplements are simply safeguards and not the way to get the bulk of what you need during pregnancy,” she says. “The best mix of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (beneficial plant-based substances) comes in nature’s packages.”
Enter functional foods — nutritional superstars that make your diet work to the max. The best way to take advantage of all that these power-packed foods have to offer is to stick to foods as close to their natural form as possible. For example, try whole-grain breads instead of white breads, and fresh fruit instead of juice from a concentrate. But also note that many common foods found on supermarket shelves are stars in their own right and should not be missed.
As part of a balanced diet, the following highly functional choices do double duty by benefiting both you and your little one. We’ve made it easy to get them every day with our five-day meal plan.
For all the vitamins and minerals you and your baby need, get plenty of these nutritional standouts. (Also see ‘Baby-Building Nutrients,’).
food>> lean cuts of beef
(Eye of round, top round, round tip and bottom round)
What they supply: Protein; vitamins B12, B6 and niacin; and zinc and iron in their most absorbable form. Beef is also one of the most concentrated food sources of choline.
(Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries)
What they supply: Carbohydrates, vitamin C, fiber, folate and fluid.
What it supplies: Carbohydrates, fiber, calcium, folate and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
What it supplies: Protein, carbohydrates, fat, calcium and vitamin B12. An added bonus: Research shows that eating cheese after a meal may thwart cavity formation by neutralizing the mouth acids that promote dental decay and help prevent mouth infections, such as gingivitis.
What they supply: Protein, more than a dozen vitamins and minerals, choline, and lutein and zeaxanthin.
(Chickpeas, lentils, black beans, soybeans and peanuts)