Eating pregnancy superfoods has great rewards. Yes, it’s easier to eat fast food. Yes, unhealthy foods might actually make you feel better temporarily, especially in the first trimester… ugh morning sickness.
I totally get it. However, a lot is at stake here. Us mothers need to press in because the rewards of eating the following 20 pregnancy superfoods are great. But let’s talk about WHY these pregnancy superfoods are important.
Want a Natural Birth? Stay Low Risk.
If you are planning to have a natural childbirth, you will have a better chance of achieving your goal if you can keep yourself low risk.
For example, the following common, but serious pregnancy conditions, can make a pregnancy higher risk…
When you are higher risk, the chance of having a natural birth goes down considerably. Inductions, epidurals and cesareans are used more often in high risk births.
But did you know the chances of these three conditions can be drastically reduced just by changing a few things in the pregnancy diet? (Click those links above to learn more.)
What have you got to lose? Give you and your baby the best start by learning about, exploring and enjoying the following delicious 20 pregnancy superfoods.
Conquering Mommy Guilt
A quick aside before we jump into learning about the 20 amazing pregnancy superfoods. I had a bit of mommy guilt writing this list.
“Ugh, why didn’t I eat as well as I should have during pregnancy? Maybe if I had eaten better (tooth decay, adrenal fatigue, my son’s health issues, etc. etc. etc.) wouldn’t have happened!”
Some of you you might feel this same guilt. Can I stop you right there?
If you find yourself blowing off this list because it’s just too much, or are feeling bad because you’re not eating that great, here’s one thing you need to do RIGHT NOW. Ask yourself, “What’s one thing on this list I can eat this week?” Pick one thing and eat it. Make it happen.
You will have greater success by creating smaller, more achievable goals than trying to “do all the things”. All you need to do is pick one thing, experience some success and then add one more thing next time. Does that makes sense?
20 Pregnancy Superfoods That Will Make You Healthy
Without further delay, here are 20 wonderful pregnancy superfoods (other than water) that will change your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Enjoy!
Kale is one of my favorite pregnancy superfoods. In one cup of kale you have 4 grams of protein (that’s amazing, right?), 150 mg of calcium (which is perfect for growing a person that needs bones), 491 mg of potassium, and way more than your daily requirements of Vitamin A and K. I could go on and on.
Kale is amazing. If you eat anything on this list every day, it should be kale. Kale is great in green pregnancy smoothies or even sauted in butter. Delicious.
Spinach is another pregnancy superfood that is in the “leafy green” category. Leafy greens are so important! If there are no leafy greens on your menu, something needs to change.
Spinach is high in niacin and zinc, as well as protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. I like to eat spinach in green smoothies OR steamed, then eaten with salt and vinegar.
As a former New Yorker, when I moved to the south I was horrified to discover that people eat this. But you know what? Cook it in bacon, salt them to taste, and they’re amazing. If your culture doesn’t eat these… trust me. Try them! Not only are they a pregnancy superfood, but they’re amazing.
One of my favorite things about broccoli is that it is a great source of folate. Folate, also sometimes called folic acid, is an essential nutrient for a growing baby. Without it babies can develop birth defects like spinabifida.
Folate, however, is more bio-available than the synthetic folic acid found in enriched food products and in most store bought vitamins. Bio-availability means that your body will absorb and use the folate in broccoli better than the folic acid in your prenatal vitamin.
If you’re looking for a good prenatal vitamin check out this one!
Avocados are delicious. I eat them plain, use them to make guacamole, put in salads, and even in green smoothies for pregnancy. This nutrient dense food is high in potassium and my favorite – monounsaturated fatty acids. I feel smarter every time I eat one, don’t you? Not only is it a great pregnancy superfood, but it’s an amazing baby’s first food too.
If you are a vegetarian, spirulina is a great way to get iron in the diet. Besides iron, it is high in calcium and even contains protein! It does have an odd taste, however, but a friend of mine drinks it shook up in lemonade. I’ve always preferred spirulina in a green smoothie.
Bananas are awesome. They are cheap, easily accessible, portable, and very good for a pregnant mom and growing baby. They offer instant energy, help prevent those nasty pregnancy muscle cramps, and can even save the day by preventing those between meal morning sickness symptoms.
I like to eat bananas by themselves or in protein punch pregnancy smoothies. Feeling daring? Fry one up in bacon grease. Amazing.
Lacto Fermented Carrots
Carrots, like bananas, are cheap, found at all grocery stores and quite healthy. However, lacto fermented carrots are all that and much more.
These carrots are rich in probiotics, which are an essential part of a balanced pregnancy diet. Sound bizarre? Well don’t freak out. They’re ridiculously easy to make. I used The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods with great success. You can too!
Because probiotics are so important during pregnancy, yogurt, a great source of probiotics, is on this list because it is both easily accessible and delicious.
When shopping look for a yogurt without dyes and sugar. I like to eat yogurt in smoothies, with granola, or even by itself. Plain yogurt can even be a great substitute for sour cream.
TIP: Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt and protein is key to feeling well, especially in the first trimester. Try greek yogurt!
Kombucha is a delicious fermented beverage that is increasing in popularity. It is rich in probiotics and a great substitute for soda. It’s becoming so popular that I can even buy it in my local Walmart!
Unfortunately, the average price is around $3.50 per bottle, making it an occasional treat for most. However, it is easy to brew your own at home! Try this book or even this online class to get started.
Kefir, another probiotic rich food (see a trend here?), is described as a drinkable yogurt. It’s so delicious! However, I think the best way to use this pregnancy superfood is in smoothies. It creates a rich, thick base, that anyone will love.
Bone broth is rich in minerals that support the immune system and contains healing compounds like collagen, glutamine, glycine, and proline. The collagen in bone broth will heal your gut lining and reduce intestinal inflammation (1).
Simply put vegetables (like the ones above) in a pot with a pasture raised chicken carcass, and simmer for hours. For more details head on over to wellness mama for a great tutorial.
Coconut oil is one of those really, really healthy fats that we should have daily. It can be used as a cooking oil, a dollop in your coffee or even used as a great alternative to lotion. One of my favorite things about coconut oil is the boost it offers our immune system. Coconut oil can even help make breastmilk better!
Check out some of Mother Rising’s best recipes that contain coconut oil:
Pasture Raised Eggs
If you can stomach it, eat some eggs every morning for breakfast. Not only will the protein help keep pregnancy nausea away giving you have a great morning, but “egg yolk is considered the brain food for the growing infant. Similar to fish oils, eggs are an excellent source of special long-chain fatty acids called EPA and DHA, which play a vital role in the development of the nervous system in the infant.” (2)
Lentils are a powerhouse of nutrition. They are a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K, but are particularly rich in dietary fiber, lean protein, folate and iron. (3)
I feel good about eating foods described as “powerhouse” don’t you? Here are 25 ways to use lentils, if you’re needing some inspiration.
Pumpkin seeds are also a nutritional powerhouse wrapped up in a very small package offering magnesium, manganese, copper, protein and zinc. My favorite way to eat them is roasted and salted. They’re addictive. You’re welcome.
Despite their tiny size, chia seeds are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. They are loaded with fiber, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and various micronutrients. (4) My favorite way to eat chia seeds is either in a protein packed pregnancy smoothie or in a yogurt like the picture above. Really, the options are endless.
Chia seeds expand when wet and create a fun tecture to food. Have fun with this one!
Of all tree nuts, almonds rank highest in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin content by weight. (5) Almonds are an easy snack to keep in a purse or diaperbag. I prefer Trader Joes raw almonds. If your blender can handle it, add almonds to a smoothie to make a pregnancy superfood smoothie.
Ladies, eating dates in the last few weeks of pregnancy can help the cervix to become ready for labor (softening and opening). I’ve even heard rumors that it can help stop postpartum hemorrhage. But even if this weren’t true, dates are still a great boost of energy and high in fiber.
More energy, less constipation, AND helps our bodies prepare for labor? Yes, please.
Some say pineapple induces labor. Apparently, pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain which can cause a uterus to contract. Even if it weren’t true, this pregnancy superfood is high in other vitamins and nutrients like Vitamin C.
My mother swears she keeps colds away by eating lots of pineapple. Maybe it’ll work for you? Either way, we’re winning. Pineapple is delicious on its own, eaten frozen, or in smoothies.
What Pregnancy Superfoods Would You Add to This List?
If you know of a pregnancy superfood that should be added to this list, join the conversation on Facebook and leave a comment! I am always learning about new foods and how they can help pregnant women.
PS – If you are looking for a great book about nutrition in pregnancy, please buy Lily Nichols’ book Real Food for Pregnancy. It’s hands down the best I’ve read yet!