These powerful prenatal power foods pack plenty of nutrients to keep mom-to-be and baby healthy through pregnancy and beyond.
What it’s got: Whether you like them fried, scrambled, hard-boiled or served as an omelet, eggs are the gold standard for prenatal protein. They also happen to be a great source of folate, iron and choline.
Why it’s good for both of you: Not only are eggs a relatively cheap, versatile and convenient source of protein, but they contain choline too. Choline is critical to fetal brain development and reduces the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. But to reap the benefits, you’ll have to eat the whole thing (so forget the egg-whites-only order); choline is contained in the yolk. If your cravings are more for a burger than eggs Benedict, you’re in luck – there’s also choline in beef. Bonus: Give baby a brain boost by buying eggs fortified with omega-3s.
What it’s got: Don’t just save these guys for Thanksgiving – sweet potatoes are full of nutritious fiber, vitamin B6, potassium (even more than bananas have!), vitamin C and iron, as well as copper and beta-carotene.
Why it’s good for both of you: Sure, other foods on our list offer many of the same nutrients, but we’re singling out sweet potatoes for their beta-carotene – an antioxidant that your body converts to vitamin A. which plays an important role in the development of baby’s eyes, bones and skin. Sweet potatoes are also a great way to meet your iron quota. Not only do these orange spuds contain iron, but they also have copper – a mineral that helps your body absorb iron. So swap in sweet potatoes for your usual sides; they’re great mashed, baked or as French fries (um, yum!).
What they’ve got: This crunchy (and convenient) snack is full of healthy fats (including those brain-boosting omega-3s) protein, fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Plus, munching on nuts will help make a dent in the 800 milligrams of magnesium you’re supposed to get now that you’re preggers.
Why they’re good for both of you: Munching on magnesium-rich foods helps reduce the risk of premature labor and aids in the development of your baby’s nervous system. A quarter cup of almonds contains 98 milligrams of magnesium, so keep a stash in your purse for a convenient prenatal power snack on the go.
Cravings control: If you feel like a bottomless pit these days, try noshing on shelled pistachios. They take longer to eat, giving your body more time to register that it’s full.
Beans and Lentils
What they’ve got: If you’re not a big meat eater (or one at all), beans and lentils are great sources of protein and iron, as well as folate, fiber and calcium. And beans (especially baked ones) are also bursting with zinc.
Why they’re good for both of you: Beans boast a bunch of the baby- and mama-friendly minerals found in animal products, so they’re a great option for vegetarian and vegan moms-to-be. Beans are also rich in zinc – an essential mineral that’s linked to a lower risk for preterm delivery, low birth weight and prolonged labor. Beans bother your stomach? Other great sources of zinc include meat, chicken, milk, fortified cereals, cashews, peas, crab and oysters (just don’t eat them raw).
What it’s got: Surprise! Plain yogurt actually contains even more calcium than milk. Plus, it’s got essential bone-building nutrients, including protein, B vitamins and zinc.
Why it’s good for both of you: Calcium is essential for keeping your bones and teeth healthy and helping baby to develop hers, and skimping on this key nutrient could put you both at risk. Expectant moms should get at least three servings of calcium a day to reduce the risk of low birth weight and preterm delivery. If your calcium count comes up short, your body will take the calcium your baby needs from your bones, putting you at greater risk for osteoporosis later on. Bonus: Snack on Greek yogurt topped with fruit for double the protein (and fiber) punch.