The Top Pregnancy Super Foods

The best mix of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients comes in nature's packages.

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Eating right should take center stage when you're pregnant. That means the foods you eat must provide as many nutritional benefits as possible. Enter functional foods, which supply all of the nutrients crucial to your well-being and your baby's growth. Following are the most important foods to eat during pregnancy.

*Eggs

Although there is no official limit on egg consumption for pregnant women, the American Heart Association recommends no more than one egg per day for a healthy person, as long as total daily cholesterol does not exceed 300 mg. (One egg has about 213 mg of cholesterol.)

What you get: Protein, more than a dozen vitamins (including A and B12), minerals and choline.

*Berries

Most berries, including blackberries, blueberries, cherries and raspberries, contain beneficial phytochemicals, which

act as antioxidants that rid the body of cell-damaging free radicals.

What you get:Carbohydrates, vitamin C, fiber, folate and fluid.

*Yogurt

Plain yogurt contains more calcium than milk does and is the richest of all yogurts in zinc. Some new brands are now fortified with vitamin D; check the label to be sure.

What you get:Calcium, carbohydrates, protein, B vitamins and zinc.

*Whole Grains

Whole grains, including oatmeal, whole-wheat flour, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice, contain more fiber and trace nutrients than processed grains, such as white bread, white rice and white flour.

What you get:Carbohydrates and fiber. Enriched whole grains are fortified with folic acid and other B vitamins, iron and zinc; some grain products may contain added calcium and vitamin D.

*Lean Beef

Eye of round, top round, round tip, bottom round, top loin and tenderloin are among the leanest cuts available.

What you get: Protein, vitamins B6 and B12, and the minerals zinc and iron in their most absorbable form. Beef is one of the most concentrated food sources of choline.

*Cheese

Eating cheese after a meal may thwart cavity formation by neutralizing the

mouth acids that promote dental decay and gingivitis. Why is this important? Because gingivitis during pregnancy can result in premature delivery.

What you get:Protein, carbohydrates, fat, calcium and vitamin B12.

*Legumes

Chickpeas, lentils, black beans, soybeans and peanuts are part of the legume family. Peanuts excepted, legumes are a great alternative to fatty sources of protein and are a good source of nutrients for vegetarians during pregnancy.

What you get: Carbohydrates, protein, fiber, iron, folate, calcium and zinc.

*Sweet Potatoes

There are two main types of sweet potatoes: dry-fleshed and moist-fleshed. Throughout the United States, the moist-fleshed, orange variety is often improperly referred to as a yam.

What you get:Carbohydrates, vitamin C, folate and fiber.

*Broccoli

The florets contain a higher concentration of nutrients and phytochemicals than the rest of the plant, though the stems and leaves are also nutritious.

What you get:Carbohydrates, fiber, calcium and folate.

*Seafood

While seafood is generally low in fat, the type of fat it does contain is largely the heart-healthy omega-3 variety. Fattier species, such as salmon, cod and haddock, are excellent sources of omega-3.

What you get:Protein, B vitamins and small but significant levels of iron and zinc.

*Milk

Soy milk is an acceptable alternative to cow's milk as long as it's fortified with at least 30 percent of the daily value for calcium and at least 25 percent of the daily value for vitamin D.

What you get: Calcium, carbohydrates, protein, fat (if not fat-free) and vitamins B and D.

Baby-building nutrients

Baby Builder

Why you need it

Daily Dose

Calcium
Helps build strong, dense bones in mother and child; may help prevent high blood pressure in pregnant women.
1,000 mg

Carbohydrates
Keeps the body from using protein for calories; is an energy source.
275–330 g

Choline
Crucial for baby's brain development; may enhance mom's memory.
450 mg

Fiber
Fights constipation; helps prevent hemorrhoids in mom.
25–30 g

Folate
Helps protect against neural-tube defects such as spina bifida; fights off anemia in mom. Folic acid is the man-made form added to enriched grains and dietary supplements.
600 mcg

(400 mcg for women trying to conceive)

Iron
Ferries oxygen to the baby; prevents anemia in mom; wards off premature delivery.
27 mg

Protein
Provides the raw materials for cells, hormones and enzymes; keeps mom's fluid balance in check.
70 g

Riboflavin
Necessary for energy production and protein use.
1.4 mg

Vitamin B6
Assists in the production of protein to build new cells.
1.9 mg

Vitamin B12
Makes red blood cells; helps the body use fat and carbohydrates for energy.
2.6 mg

Vitamin C

Necessary for strong bones and teeth; boosts immunity; increases iron absorption from food; keeps blood vessels strong, red blood cells healthy, and soft tissues intact.
85 mg

Vitamin D
Promotes calcium absorption and deposition into bones.
200 IU

Zinc
Critical for cell growth and repair and energy production.
11 mg

*nutrition basics for a healthy pregnancy

weight gain Women of normal weight should gain 25–35 pounds during pregnancy (28–40 pounds if you're underweight and 15–25 pounds if you're overweight; check with your doctor or midwife).

calories Add about 300 calories a day to your diet during the second and third trimesters.

what to avoid To reduce the risk of illness from the listeria bacterium, steer clear of unheated deli meats and unpasteurized cheeses. Never eat raw or undercooked animal foods such as meat, sushi, seafood or eggs; avoid fish that may contain excessive mercury, such as swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish. Limit shellfish and canned fish to 12 ounces a week. Avoid alcohol and tobacco, and medications that have not been approved by your doctor or midwife.

vitamins Take a daily supplement, as recommended by your doctor or midwife, that supplies 100–150 percent of the Dietary Reference Intake for all vitamins and minerals. Consider calcium supplements if you can't make the quota of 1,000 milligrams a day from foods and beverages.

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