19 Pregnancy Super-Foods You Can Eat During All 3 Trimesters
Wine and unpasteurized cheeses are off-limits—this, every pregnant mama-to-be knows. But sleuthing out what you can and can’t eat during all three trimesters can be confusing (and complicated). That’s why we asked Jillian Tuchman, MS, RDN and head nutritionist for Care/of, to break it down and give us a grocery shopping list that will take us through all nine ten months.
1. Sweet Potatoes
Potassium—which sweet potatoes are chock-full of—is a wonder nutrient, whether you're pregnant or not. But it’s especially important to get the recommended amount when you’re expecting since it supports a healthy blood pressure.
Ditto sweet potatoes. The more potassium you can work into your diet during this time, the better.
They’re an amazing source of both vitamins B12 and D, which may support the development of the baby’s nervous system and contribute to a healthy birth weight, respectively. Egg yolks contain choline, a mineral that’s critical for the health of your baby’s brain. (Just keep in mind that you may want to request that your yolks be cooked over-hard, since research is mixed on whether it’s OK to eat runny eggs during pregnancy.)
4. Pumpkin Seeds
They’re one of the best sources of zinc around, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of pregnancy complications.
5. Chia Seeds
Add them to a smoothie or work them into your favorite pudding recipe. Chia seeds are great for adding protein, healthy fat and, most importantly, fiber to your prenatal diet. (Especially during a time when constipation can be a problem, ugh.)
6. Leafy Greens
Think kale, spinach, arugula and Swiss chard. They’re all rich with some of the most important pregnancy nutrients—fiber, folate, vitamin C and vitamin K—not to mention the minerals iron, calcium and magnesium. A few mega-pregnancy benefits? Magnesium can help regulate your blood sugar levels and blood pressure; calcium helps build your baby’s bones; and folate and vitamin C can promote neural tube and fetal brain development. Pretty darn good.
They’re another prenatal workhorse. Nuts (like almonds and walnuts) are full of healthy fats, fiber, protein and magnesium, which can be critical to the development of your baby’s nervous system.
No matter the trimester, your body needs a lot of protein when you’re pregnant. In fact, you may need to add up to 25 extra grams per day to your diet, especially for vegetarian mothers. Beans are a natural source, infused with folate, fiber, calcium and zinc, which are linked to lowering the risk of pregnancy complications and supporting healthy birth weights.
Not into beans? Lentils are another easy protein source. Sprinkle them on a salad, use them as taco filling...the opportunities are endless.
10. Lean Meats
If you’re not a vegetarian, skinless chicken breast is your pregnancy best friend. It not only packs a protein punch, it’s a good source of iron, which you need to support a healthy birth weight and growth. Craving red meat, like a burger? It’s fine as long as it’s cooked well-done. (It also doesn’t hurt to be sure any meat you consume during this time is grass-fed, pasture-raised and organic to steer clear of pesticides and hormones you don’t need.)
11. Wild-Caught Salmon
Ugh, no sushi. But cooked salmon is a delicious alternative, not to mention a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your baby’s brain and eyes.
Yep, it’s another pregnancy super-food—mainly because it’s a great source of iodine, which is important for proper fetal brain development.
Blueberries, strawberries and blackberries (yum) are loaded with potassium, folate, fiber and vitamin C, all crucial to the development of your baby’s tendons, bones, skin and cartilage.
Rich with vitamin A, they’re a maternity must-have because the nutrient supports the development of your baby’s skin, eyes, teeth and bones. Carrots are also rich in fiber. (Lest we forget that whole constipation thing.)
Eat ’em plain or add ’em to a salad—however you eat them, they’re full of potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C. Even better, they’re known to be helpful for reducing morning sickness. Major bonus.
This easy snack is a fabulous source of protein, folate, vitamin A and B vitamins, all of which support proper fetal development.
Another easy snack—popcorn has loads of fiber, vitamin E and selenium, nutrients that protect the development and strength of your baby’s cell membranes. (Just be sure the kind you pick is air-popped and made with high-quality oil like coconut, olive or avocado.)
This super-food veggie is rich in calcium and folate. It also contains a lot of vitamin C, which—when eaten with iron-rich foods—helps your body better absorb the iron.
Sure, you already know they’re a terrific source of healthy fat. But they also come fully loaded with almost 20 essential nutrients like potassium, vitamin E, vitamin K, B vitamins and folate. Huzzah!