You know that your diet should be a healthy balance of nutritious foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins. But does that change when you get pregnant? Not necessarily, says Samantha Cassetty, a registered dietitian and the director of nutrition at The Healthy Mommy, an online program that provides resources and support for moms and moms-to-be. But while your pregnancy diet should be pretty similar to your non-pregnancy diet, your needs for certain key nutrients do go up. Here are seven foods to eat even more of while you’re expecting.
1. Plain Greek Yogurt
According to Cassetty, “Your protein and calcium requirements go up during pregnancy, and plain Greek yogurt supplies both.” How much? About 20 grams of protein and 200 milligrams of calcium in a single-serving container, she tells us. Be sure to stick with the plain kind, since flavored versions can be loaded with sugar.
“The choline in egg yolks is an essential nutrient that’s especially crucial during pregnancy,” Cassetty tells us. According to studies (like this one from Cornell University), choline supports healthy brain development in babies. Per Cassetty, most healthy people can safely consume up to seven egg yolks per week.
Pregnant women have increased folate needs, of which lentils happen to be a fantastic source. In fact, just a cup provides about 57 percent of a pregnant woman’s daily requirements. Plus, since many pregnant women experience constipation, Cassetty tells us that eating fiber-rich foods—like lentils—is especially important to keep your digestive system moving along. (She’s a fan of this lentil soup, by the way.)
4. Wild Salmon
In addition to being one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids (which support healthy brain and eye development), Cassetty identifies salmon as a great protein choice that can be bought fresh, frozen or canned.
An impressive source of vitamin C, kiwis are also helpful in alleviating constipation, Cassetty says. For a sweet treat, she recommends dipping them in a little dark chocolate.
6. Pumpkin Seeds
Like protein and folate, the body’s iron needs also go up during pregnancy. “While many people think of red meat as a good source of iron (it is), ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds have more iron than a fast-food-sized burger,” Cassetty says. While she says that the body has an easier time absorbing iron from meat sources compared to non-meat ones, eating plant foods rich in iron alongside those rich in vitamin C can make absorption easier. “So, for example, toss pumpkin seeds on a salad along with strawberries or serve them together as a snack,” she recommends.
7. Chia Seeds
As previously mentioned, you need more calcium when you’re pregnant. If you’re not a big dairy person, Cassetty says chia seeds are a good alternative, since a couple of tablespoons provides almost 14 percent of a woman’s daily target. They’re also a rich source of fiber and a plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. She’s a fan of adding them to smoothies or making this vanilla chia pudding.