Facebook Pinterest Text Email If you're like many pregnant women, you vowed to eat healthier the minute you found out you were expecting. You may even have started making a mental list of nutritional do's and don'ts: Eat more calcium-rich foods, get more protein and cut out the caffeine and junk food.
Developing healthy eating habits now will set the stage for your baby to grow into a strong child and adult, as well as ultimately reduce his risk for certain diseases. In fact, scientific research increasingly shows that a prenatal diet rich in nutrient-dense foods is key in preventing heart disease, diabetes, obesity and many types of cancer.
Here's expert advice on what to eat—and what to avoid—for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child: DO choose foods that perform double duty "Nutrient-dense foods, such as yogurt, peanut butter, chicken, beef, eggs and dairy products, are higher in protein, calcium and iron, all nutrients your baby needs to grow and develop," says Rose Ann Hudson, R.
Some other examples of nutrient-dense foods: Lean pork, like beef, contains protein, along with B vitamins, iron and zinc. Orange juice offers folate a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects plus vitamin C, which helps you absorb iron from foods such as fiber-rich black beans and spinach. Whole grains are filled with fiber, B vitamins, magnesium and zinc. But limit them to one portion a day read labels ; you won't feel deprived and you also won't be as tempted to overeat.
Indeed, many women don't realize they need only extra calories a day—and only in the second and third trimesters. DON'T forget your vitamins A daily prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement acts as a safeguard.
DON'T forgo water and fiber Drink at least eight glasses of water daily to help prevent dehydration. This can also can help prevent constipation, as can eating high-fiber foods such as whole-wheat and whole-grain breads and pastas, and lots of fruits and vegetables. Fiber also helps you feel full, so you may be less likely to overeat.
DO avoid risky foods Unpasteurized soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, Feta, blue-veined and Mexican-style cheeses, can harbor Listeria, a bacterium that causes listeriosis, a serious infection that can lead to miscarriage, premature delivery or stillbirth.
Deli meats also may pose a risk, so buy prepackaged cold cuts rather than those from the deli counter, or heat deli-counter meats thoroughly before eating them.
For the same reason, never eat raw or undercooked meat, seafood that includes sushi! DON'T eat high-mercury fish These include shark, king mackerel, tilefish and swordfish. Federal guidelines recommend limiting low-mercury fish to 12 ounces a week. Safe choices include canned light tuna limit albacore tuna, which is higher in mercury, to 6 ounces a week, maximum , catfish, pollock, salmon and shellfish.
For more on seafood consumption during pregnancy, including the best sources of brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids, go to fitpregnancy.