From weird food cravings to physiological reformation, pregnancy is marked by several changes. Maintaining a healthy diet is vital in maternal health and fetal development. Fruits and vegetables eaten during pregnancy have many vitamins and minerals that support a smooth journey. This article will explore seven fruits and vegetables that should be a part of your diet.
Avocados are not only delicious but are also nutritional powerhouses. Here are some health benefits of avocados during pregnancy:
- With avocados, you satisfy your fat cravings while supporting your baby’s skin and nervous system development. They are rich in healthy fats, mainly monounsaturated fatty acids. They also include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are great for you and your unborn child.
- Vitamins K, E, B6, folate, and choline are abundant in avocados. Folate, a B vitamin, prevents neural tube defects. Vitamin K increases calcium absorption during fetal development. Vitamin E has antioxidant properties that help prevent cellular damage. Research shows that vitamin B6 also helps alleviate morning sickness and nausea.
- Hormonal changes in pregnancy usually cause constipation. Fibre aids digestion and bowel movement. It even lowers the chances of excessive weight gain. Avocados also contain magnesium and potassium. They play a significant role in maintaining blood pressure levels and relieving leg cramps.
Citrus fruits like oranges are beneficial during pregnancy for several reasons.
- Oranges are popularly known for their vitamin C content. Oranges eaten during pregnancy boost iron absorption, tissue repair, immune function, and collagen production. Collagen is the major structural protein responsible for bone and cartilage development.
- With a water content of about 80-89%, oranges are a great source of hydration during pregnancy. Morning sickness is common during pregnancy. Oranges bring relief from pregnancy nausea and replenish lost electrolytes after vomiting.
- Oranges are a good source of folate, potassium, and calcium. They support your baby’s brain, bone, and spinal cord development. They also contain fibre and pectin. These two nutrients ease constipation, aid digestion, and improve gut health.
Bananas are a superfood and an important part of the fruits and vegetables to eat during pregnancy.
- Potassium, the primary nutrient in bananas, regulates fluid balance and blood pressure levels. They also contain fibre and pectin, which softens stools and promotes digestive health.
- Its natural sweetness supplies your body with healthy sugars and elevates energy levels. Eating bananas also stimulates haemoglobin production and lowers acidity levels in the stomach.
- Bananas are also a great source of B vitamins – vitamin B6 and folic acid. Vitamin B6 is essential for developing your baby’s central nervous system. Folic acid protects your baby from congenital malformations.
- Like other fruits, bananas contain antioxidants, including vitamin C, dopamine, and catechin. They protect cells against free radicals and oxidative stress, preventing cellular damage.
Leafy vegetables such as spinach are an excellent choice of fruits and vegetables to eat during pregnancy.
- Iron and folic acid (vitamin B9) requirements increase during pregnancy. The high iron and folate content in spinach boosts red blood cell and DNA production. This reduces the risk of anaemia and congenital disabilities in your baby.
- Spinach is rich in minerals, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and phosphorus. Calcium and potassium maintain blood pressure levels. Magnesium balances blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of gestational diabetes.
- Spinach supplies your body with vitamins A, B, C, and E. Vitamins A and B1 improve vision. Vitamin C strengthens the immune system. Vitamin E balances cholesterol levels and inflammation.
- Calcium and vitamin K aid the development of your baby’s bones and teeth. They also support nerve and muscle function and blood clotting.
Tomatoes, often considered a fruit and vegetable, are a great addition to fruits and vegetables to eat during pregnancy.
- Tomatoes contain high amounts of carotenoids – lycopene and beta-carotene. Lycopene reduces oxidative stress, which leads to chronic diseases. Some of these diseases include cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s disease. Lycopene and beta-carotene activate anti-cancer activity in the breast, lung, and ovary. They also cause a decrease in gestational diabetes.
- The vitamin C content in tomatoes improves immune function, iron absorption, and skin health. As a result, it aids the production of collagen and the formation of your baby’s teeth and bones.
- Tomatoes are also rich in other nutrients like folic acid, choline, potassium, and fibre. Fibre reduces the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases. Studies show that potassium decreases the risk of hypertension in pregnancy – pre-eclampsia.
Grapes are among the necessary fruits and vegetables to eat during pregnancy because of their antioxidant properties.
- Antioxidants, including resveratrol and anthocyanins, have anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing properties. They contribute to overall health and well-being. However, taking resveratrol in concentrated amounts will affect fetal liver development.
- It has a water content of 80-90%. This contributes to adequate amniotic fluid production and helps you remain hydrated.
- Vitamins A, C, and K are present in sufficient amounts. Vitamin A supports your baby’s vision development. Vitamin K aids blood clotting and bone development.
- Nutrients like magnesium and fibre are present in grapes. Magnesium reduces the discomfort caused by leg cramps, especially in the third trimester. Fiber also aids digestion, ensuring improved gut health.
Sweet potatoes are a versatile and nutritious addition to your diet while pregnant.
- Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, converted to vitamin A in our bodies. Vitamin A is essential for the healthy development of your baby’s bones, lungs, eyes, and skin. They also contain vitamins C and B6, which aid your baby’s bone growth and development.
- Sweet potato extracts elevate adiponectin levels in women with type 2 diabetes. This hormone, adiponectin, boosts insulin metabolism and sensitivity—increased adiponectin levels help manage blood sugar levels better.
- Its potassium and manganese content helps to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
Here are some practical tips to help you include these essential foods in your daily meals:
- Add spinach to your morning smoothies for an extra nutritional boost.
- Snack on sliced oranges for a refreshing and vitamin C-packed treat.
Remember to consult healthcare providers for personalized dietary advice. Their guidance ensures that you and your baby receive the nutrients for a healthy pregnancy.
It is important to note that although some fruits are good, some people might not enjoy it due to one reason or another. For instance, women with ulcers or heart burn might shy away from tomatoes or oranges with good reason. Its not one fits all, but they should tailor it but be sure to consume enough fruits and veggies during their pregnancy.