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Holley Grainger, MS, RD Dishes Out B, D & A Pregnancy Nutrition

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A mother’s nutrition is vital to both her health and the health of her baby. Whether she is trying to conceive, is pregnant or is breastfeeding, there are certain nutrients that are important for her optimal health and, fortunately, many of those needs can be met through food. Here are my top 3 foods for each stage of the pregnant…

Trying to conceive? Add foods rich in plant-based protein, folic acid, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids to help boost fertility and provide nutrients to the baby upon conception.

Beans and lentils: Beans and lentils are both excellent sources of plant protein and can help boost fertility. Researches from Harvard School of Public Health found that women who eat high amounts of plant protein were substantially less likely to have trouble trying to conceive. Plus, these foods boost your iron reserves (before baby can zap what you have).

    Make a simple homemade hummus like flavor-packed Smoked Paprika Hummus to snack on with nutrient-rich veggies like bell pepper strips, carrots, and cucumbers.


    Salmon: Wild fish, like salmon, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which may help to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs and help regulate reproduction hormones. Wild fish like salmon, shrimp and tilapia offer both DHA and EPA and should be eaten a few times a week.

      Use any type of cooked salmon (baked, grilled, canned, etc.) and combine with protein-rich eggs, avocado, and veggies to make Salmon Chop Salad


      Enriched Pasta: Pastas and fortified breakfast cereals provide folic acid, a B vitamin that is needed by the body before and during pregnancy to help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida (a birth defect of the spine) as well as possibly oral and facial birth defects like cleft palate. You can also choose other enriched grain products for a boost of folic acid like whole wheat bread, tortillas, or enriched white bread.

       For an easy weeknight meal that hits many of your pre-pregnancy nutrient needs like monounsaturated fat (olive oil from pesto), folic acid (pasta), omega-3 fatty acids (shrimp) and iron (shrimp), whip up a batch of 4-Ingredient Shrimp and Pesto Pasta.


      It is important to eat a variety of foods when pregnant to ensure you are getting all of the vitamins and minerals you need to help your baby grow.


      Tomatoes: Pregnant women need 70mg of vitamin C each day for choose at least one source to help meet those needs. Vitamin C can be found in a variety of fruit sand vegetables like strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon, broccoli, and peppers.

      Knock out three sources of vitamin C (tomatoes, watermelon, and lime juice) with a summertime favorite, Tomato-Watermelon Salad. Be sure if you’re adding feta cheese to the salad to choose a variety that is pasteurized.


        Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurts offers both protein and calcium to help meet your increased needs. Calcium helps to build bones and muscles and if you aren’t getting enough in your diet, your baby will steal yours to meet her needs (which may increase your risk of osteoporosis.

        Greek yogurt is a delicious snack to eat straight from the container or can be fancied up into fruit parfaits or popsicles. These Frozen Yogurt Popsicles are a welcomed treat to nauseated moms. (PS: Remember this recipe for your toddlers – they’ll love it!)


        Dark, Leafy Greens: Dark, leafy greens like mustard greens, collards, or turnip greens are a goldmine of nutrients for the pregnant momma. They are a good source of folic acid (critical in helping to prevent neural tube defects) as well as vitamin A, iron, calcium, and vitamins c and k.

        Try Hoppin’ John with Greens for a filling dinner that combines fresh greens with other nutrient-rich ingredients like peppers and legumes.

            While new moms may be concerned about losing the baby weight, it is important to make sure they’re eating a variety of nutritious foods and drinking water throughout the day for energy and to help sustain her milk supply.

            Water: While you don’t necessarily have to force fluids when you’re nursing, drinking water to stay satisfied and hydrated is important so make sure to listen to your body.


            Make staying hydrated fun by trying one of these 5 Fruit Flavored Water Ideas.


            Oatmeal: Warm, rich, and nourishing, oatmeal not only offers fiber and other nutrients to help keep you full but it acts as a vehicle food for other healthy ingredients like fruit, milk, or yogurt. Complex carbohydrates also help to support overall milk production.

                For a change of pace to the usual bowl of oatmeal, try Baked Banana Bread Oatmeal topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt and fruit.

                Lean Beef: Lean beef is an excellent source of both protein and vitamin B-12, nutrients needed for nursing moms. It also provides iron which many new moms are often lacking.
                  Even tired moms and dads in their sleep-deprived state can whip together these Italian Mini Meatloaf Muffins. The best part is that they make 10 muffins and leftovers freeze beautifully so make a few extra batches and freeze for those nights (or early mornings) when you don’t feel like cooking.

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