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This article is from the WebMD Feature Archive

Pregnancy “super foods”

Add these choice foods to your diet to boost your pregnancy nutrition.
By Elizabeth M. Ward, MS, RD
WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

During pregnancy, healthy foods provide the optimum mix of baby-building nutrients. Starting in the second trimester, you will need about 300 additional calories in your diet every day.

Here are some “super foods” to include in your diet, making those extra calories count by providing a variety of nutrients that benefit you and your child.

Beans

  • Why: Chickpeas, lentils, black beans and soya beans supply fibre, protein, iron, folate, calcium and zinc.
  • Enjoy: In soups, salads, chilli and pasta dishes; as hummus with wholegrain crackers or in wraps.

Beef

  • Why: Lean cuts of beef such as rump steak are an excellent source of protein, vitamins B6, B12 and niacin, as well as zinc and iron in highly absorbable forms. Beef is also concentrated in choline, which some studies suggest may be required for brain development and peak cognitive powers.
  • Enjoy: Add lean ground beef to pasta sauces, use in tacos, as burgers, in stir-fry dishes and in chilli.

Berries

  • Why: They are packed with carbohydrates, vitamin C, potassium, folate, fibre and fluid. The phytonutrients in berries are naturally occurring plant compounds that some studies suggest can protect cells from damage. However, it’s not clear yet if they have a health benefit in people.
  • Enjoy: On top of wholegrain cereal, in smoothies made with yoghurt or milk, in pancakes and in salads. Layer yoghurt with berries and crunchy wholegrain cereal for a dessert parfait.

Broccoli

  • Why:  For the folate, fibre, calcium, lutein, zeaxanthin, carotenoids to help maintain healthy vision, and potassium for fluid balance and to help maintain normal blood pressure. Broccoli also contains the raw materials for vitamin A production in the body.
  • Enjoy: As part of pasta and stir-fry dishes, steamed and topped with a drizzling of olive oil, pureed and added to soups, or roasted: chop broccoli into bite-sized pieces, coat lightly with olive oil and roast on a baking sheet at 200C/400F/Gas mark 6 for about 15 minutes until tender.

Cheese (pasteurised)

  • Why: Cheese supplies concentrated amounts of calcium, phosphorous and magnesium for your bones and your baby's, plus vitamin B12 and protein (use reduced-fat varieties to save on calories, fat and cholesterol).
  • Enjoy: As snacks with wholegrain crackers or fruit; sprinkled on top of soups; in salads, sandwiches and omelettes.

Eggs

  • Why: Eggs supply the gold-standard of protein because they provide all of the amino acids you and your baby need to thrive. They also include more than a dozen vitamins and minerals such as choline, lutein and zeaxanthin. Certain brands supply the omega-3 fats that some studies suggest baby needs for brain development and peak vision, so check the label.
  • Enjoy: In omelettes and frittatas, in salads and sandwiches, in homemade crepes and wholegrain French toast, as snacks, hard-boiled or scrambled.

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