These power-packed stars deliver more than good taste for you and your budding baby. Get them all in our 5-day meal plan.
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.
Superstars 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.
food>> berries (Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries) What they supply: Carbohydrates, vitamin C, fiber, folate and fluid.
food>> broccoli What it supplies: Carbohydrates, fiber, calcium, folate and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
food>> cheese 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.
food>> eggs What they supply: Protein, more than a dozen vitamins and minerals, choline, and lutein and zeaxanthin.
food>> legumes (Chickpeas, lentils, black beans, soybeans and peanuts)
What they supply: Carbohydrates, fiber, protein, iron, folate, calcium and zinc.
food>> milk What it supplies: Protein, carbohydrates, fat (if milk is not fat-free) and B vitamins. This is also the only dairy food with beneficial levels of vitamin D.
food>> seafood What it supplies: Protein, B vitamins, and small but significant levels of iron and zinc. While it's generally low in fat, the type of fat that seafood does contain is largely the omega-3 variety (see "Baby-Building Nutrients"). Fattier species, such as salmon and bluefish, are excellent omega-3 sources, but even canned tuna fish contains some of these beneficial fats. (It's best to forgo fresh tuna steaks, shark and swordfish when pregnant. Also, don't eat raw or undercooked fish.)
food>> sweet potato What it supplies: Carbohydrates, vitamin C, folate, fiber and carotenoids, primarily beta-carotene.
food>> whole grains What they supply: Carbohydrates and fiber, for starters. Enriched whole grains are fortified with folic acid and other B vitamins, iron and zinc; some grain products also may contain added calcium and vitamin D.
food>> yogurt What it supplies: Protein, carbohydrates, calcium, B vitamins and zinc. Plain yogurt contains more calcium than milk and is the richest of all yogurts in zinc. Many brands also contain live active cultures.
Day 1 Breakfast 1 cup whole-grain cereal, such as Wheat Chex or Post Premium Raisin Bran 8 ounces low-fat (2 percent) milk 1 cup calcium-fortified orange juice 1 medium banana Snack 8 ounces low-fat vanilla yogurt Lunch Tuna Salad Sandwich: 3 ounces water-packed tuna, drained, mixed with 1/4 cup chopped water chestnuts or celery and 1 tablespoon mayonnaise on 2 slices whole-grain bread. Add lettuce, tomato and pickles, if desired. 1 ounce pretzels 8 ounces low-fat milk 1 medium pear Snack 10 soda crackers with 2 tablespoons soy nut butter Dinner 4 ounces grilled top sirloin steak 1 medium baked sweet potato with 1 teaspoon butter or margarine 3 cups raw spinach sautéed with 2 teaspoons olive oil and minced garlic, if desired 8 ounces low-fat milk Snack 4 graham crackers 8 ounces hot chocolate Additions for second and third trimesters: 2 tablespoons wheat germ added to vanilla yogurt at morning snack 8 ounces low-fat milk at afternoon snack 1 teaspoon olive oil on spinach at dinner 1 teaspoon soy nut butter added to graham crackers at evening snack
First-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,403 calories, 25 percent fat (68 grams), 54 percent carbohydrate, 21 percent protein, 33 grams fiber, 25 milligrams iron, 2,191 milligrams calcium, 724 micrograms folate. Second- and third-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,651 calories, 27 percent fat (81 grams), 52 percent carbohydrate, 21 percent protein, 35 grams fiber, 27 milligrams iron, 2,497 milligrams calcium, 790 micrograms folate.
Day 2 Breakfast Egg Pocket Sandwich: Fill 1/2 of an 8-inch whole-wheat pita with 1 ounce shredded Swiss or cheddar cheese and 1 medium scrambled egg cooked in a nonstick skillet with 1 teaspoon butter or margarine. 1 cup (8 ounces) vitamin C-fortified cranberry juice Snack 5 dried figs 1 ounce roasted soy nuts Lunch Chicken Caesar Salad: Mix 2 cups romaine lettuce with 1 medium chopped tomato and 1/4 cup each cucumber and carrots, pared and sliced, topped with 2 ounces cooked, shredded chicken and 2 tablespoons reduced-fat Caesar salad dressing. (Note: Avoid Caesar dressing made with raw eggs.) 1 cup lentil soup 1 small whole-grain roll Snack 1 cereal bar 8 ounces low-fat milk Dinner 4 ounces salmon broiled with 1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce and topped with 1 teaspoon sesame seeds 1 cup steamed broccoli with 1 teaspoon butter or margarine 1 cup couscous, prepared according to package directions Snack Berry Smoothie: Combine 1/2 cup frozen strawberries or raspberries with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon sugar, 2 ice cubes and 8 ounces plain low-fat yogurt in a blender or food processor. Additions for second and third trimesters: 1 ounce cheese at breakfast 1 teaspoon margarine on roll at lunch 2 oatmeal raisin cookies at evening snack First-trimester nutritional information (daily total:) 2,216 calories, 24 percent fat (61 grams), 54 percent carbohydrate, 22 percent protein, 34 grams fiber, 17 milligrams iron, 1,593 milligrams calcium, 612 micrograms folate. Second- and third-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,486 calories, 28 percent fat (80 grams), 51 percent carbohydrate, 21 percent protein, 34 grams fiber, 18 milligrams iron, 1,819 milligrams calcium, 622 micrograms folate.
Day 3 Breakfast 1 cup cooked oatmeal topped with 2 teaspoons brown sugar and 1/4 cup dried chopped dates 8 ounces low-fat milk Snack 1 medium banana spread with 1 tablespoon peanut or cashew butter
Lunch 1/2 cup hummus 1/2 8-inch whole-wheat pita bread (for dipping) 8 baby carrots 8 ounces low-fat milk 1 medium orange Snack 4 cups low-fat microwave popcorn 8 ounces tomato juice Dinner 2 slices thin-crust cheese or vegetable pizza 2 cups garden salad with 2 tablespoons reduced-fat Italian dressing Snack Pear Sundae: Top 1/2 poached or canned pear with 1/2 cup vanilla frozen yogurt and 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup. Additions for second and third trimesters: 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts to oatmeal at breakfast 1 tablespoon peanut butter to banana at morning snack 8 ounces vitamin C-fortified cranberry juice at dinner
First-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,280 calories, 22 percent fat (57 grams), 63 percent carbohydrate, 15 percent protein, 33 grams fiber, 15 milligrams iron, 1,513 milligrams calcium, 793 micrograms folate. Second- and third-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,672 calories, 24 percent fat (74 grams), 62 percent carbohydrate, 14 percent protein, 35 grams fiber, 17 milligrams iron, 1,538 milligrams calcium, 819 micrograms folate.
Day 4 Breakfast Fluffy Pancakes: Combine 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt and 1 medium egg. Blend in 1 cup pancake mix. Drop 3 tablespoons per pancake on a nonstick skillet coated with 1 tablespoon margarine or canola oil. Serving size: 6 3-inch pancakes (half of recipe). Top with 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 2 teaspoons margarine or butter and 1/2 cup blueberries. 8 ounces low-fat milk Snack 1 ounce mixed nuts 8 ounces calcium-fortified orange juice Lunch 1 piece thin-crust pizza (left over from previous night) 1 1/2 cups Winter Fruit Salad: Combine equal parts orange, grapefruit and kiwi fruit. Snack 10 animal crackers Dinner Pasta, Broccoli and Beans: Combine 1 1/2 cups cooked pasta with 1 cup steamed, chopped broccoli and 1/2 cup cooked, drained garbanzo beans (canned is fine). Top with 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. 8 ounces low-fat milk Snack 1 cup low-fat chocolate pudding Additions for second and third trimesters: 8 ounces low-fat milk at afternoon snack 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese at dinner 1 ounce Italian bread at dinner 2 tablespoons whipped topping on pudding at evening snack First-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,404 calories, 23 percent fat (63 grams), 61 percent carbohydrate, 16 percent protein, 18 grams fiber, 12 milligrams iron, 2,397 milligrams calcium, 467 micrograms folate.
Second- and third-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,637 calories, 26 percent fat (78 grams), 59 percent carbohydrate, 15 percent protein, 19 grams fiber, 12 milligrams iron, 2,508 milligrams calcium, 476 micrograms folate.
Day 5 Breakfast Breakfast Smoothie: Combine 6 ounces calcium-fortified orange juice, 1/3 cup pineapple chunks and 1/2 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt in a blender. Whip until frothy. 1 slice whole-grain toast with 1 tablespoon peanut butter Lunch Salad: Combine 2 cups raw spinach, chopped; 1/4 cup each canned artichoke hearts, drained and sliced; shredded carrot and roasted red pepper, drained and sliced; 2 ounces turkey; 1 ounce Swiss cheese. Toss with 2 tablespoons reduced-fat Italian dressing. 1 small whole-grain roll with 1 teaspoon butter or margarine 1 medium Granny Smith apple Snack 4 fig bars 8 ounces low-fat milk Dinner Beef Roll-ups: Filling: Marinate 4 ounces trimmed boneless top sirloin steak, cut 3/4 inch thick, in 2 tablespoons each lime juice and olive oil for 20 minutes, then stir-fried for 5–10 minutes over medium-high heat; 1 1/2 cups raw sliced red and green bell peppers and onions sautéed in 2 teaspoons canola oil. Roll up in 2 warmed 6-inch tortillas. 1 cup black bean soup 8 ounces low-fat milk Snack Trail Mix: 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Chex, 2 tablespoons chopped dried apricots, 2 tablespoons chocolate chips Additions for second and third trimesters: 1 slice whole-wheat toast at breakfast 1 ounce turkey at lunch 8 ounces low-fat vanilla yogurt at evening snack First-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,358 calories, 29 percent fat (77 grams), 51 percent carbohydrate, 20 percent protein, 28 grams fiber, 24 milligrams iron, 1,841 milligrams calcium, 451 micrograms folate. Second- and third-trimester nutritional information (daily total): 2,661 calories, 27 percent fat (82 grams), 52 percent carbohydrate, 21 percent protein, 29 grams fiber, 26 milligrams iron, 2,245 milligrams calcium, 491 micrograms folate.