Pre­na­tal su­per foods

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - PARENTING - By Kristin Koch > tUrn to PAGE 12

TH­ESE pow­er­ful eats pack plenty of nu­tri­ents to keep mums-to-be and ba­bies healthy through preg­nancy – and be­yond.


Whether you like them fried, scram­bled, hard-boiled or served as an omelette, eggs are the gold stan­dard for pre­na­tal pro­tein. They also hap­pen to be a great source of fo­late, iron and choline.

Not only are eggs a rel­a­tively cheap, ver­sa­tile and con­ve­nient source of pro­tein, they con­tain choline too. Never heard of that last one?

Choline is crit­i­cal to foetal brain de­vel­op­ment and re­duces the risk of neu­ral tube de­fects such as spina bi­fida. To reap the ben­e­fits, you’ll have to eat the whole thing (so for­get the egg-whites-only or­der); choline is con­tained in the yolk. If your crav­ings are more for a burger than eggs Bene­dict, you’re in luck – there’s also choline in beef.

Sweet pota­toes

Th­ese guys are full of nu­tri­tious fi­bre, vitamin B6, potas­sium (even more than bananas have!), vitamin C and iron, as well as cop­per and be­tac­arotene.

Sure, other foods on our list of­fer many of the same nu­tri­ents, but we’re sin­gling out sweet pota­toes for their beta-carotene – an an­tiox­i­dant that your body con­verts to vitamin A. And as you may re­call, vitamin A plays an im­por­tant role in the de­vel­op­ment of baby’s eyes, bones and skin. Sweet pota­toes are also a great way to meet your iron quota.

Not only do th­ese orange spuds con­tain iron, they also have cop­per – a min­eral that helps your body ab­sorb iron. So swap in sweet pota­toes for your usual sides; they’re great mashed, baked or as French fries.


This crunchy (and con­ve­nient) snack is full of healthy fats (in­clud­ing those brain-boost­ing omega-3s we men­tioned ear­lier), pro­tein, fi­bre and a va­ri­ety of vi­ta­mins and min­er­als. Plus, nosh­ing on nuts will help make a dent in the 800mg of mag­ne­sium you’re sup­posed to get now that you’re preg­gers.

Munch­ing on mag­ne­sium-rich foods helps re­duce the risk of pre­ma­ture labour and aids in the de­vel­op­ment of your baby’s ner­vous sys­tem. A quar­ter cup of al­monds con­tains 98mg of mag­ne­sium, so keep a stash in your purse for a con­ve­nient pre­na­tal power snack on the go.

Crav­ings con­trol: If you feel like a bot­tom­less pit th­ese days, try nosh­ing on shelled pis­ta­chios. They take longer to eat, giv­ing your body more time to reg­is­ter that it’s full.

Beans and lentils

If you’re not a big meat eater (or one at all), beans and lentils are great sources of pro­tein and iron, as well as fo­late, fi­bre and cal­cium. And beans (es­pe­cially baked ones) are also burst­ing with zinc.

Beans boast a bunch of the baby- and mama-friendly min­er­als found in an­i­mal prod­ucts, so they’re a great op­tion for veg­e­tar­ian and ve­gan mums-to-be. Beans are also rich in zinc – an es­sen­tial min­eral that’s linked to a lower risk for preterm de­liv­ery, low birth weight and pro­longed labour. Beans bother your stom­ach? Other great sources of zinc in­clude meat, chicken, milk, for­ti­fied ce­re­als, cashews, peas, crab and oys­ters (just don’t eat them raw).

Lean meat

Sure, you know it’s a great source of pro­tein, but lean beef and pork are also packed with iron and B vi­ta­mins.

Your body needs a lot more pro­tein now (about 25 ex­tra grammes a day) to help the foe­tus grow and to en­sure her mus­cles de­velop prop­erly. Same goes for iron; not get­ting enough of this min­eral can im­pair your baby’s growth and in­crease the risk for preterm de­liv­ery and low birth weight.

Iron is im­por­tant for mum, too – it’s nec­es­sary for red blood cell for­ma­tion (to pre­vent anaemia). Dur­ing preg­nancy, your blood vol­ume in­creases, so you’ll need to up your iron in­take (to around 27mg a day).

Orange juice

Down a glass in the morn­ing to fill up on fo­late, potas­sium and, of course, vitamin C.

You’ve prob­a­bly heard a lot of buzz about fo­late and folic acid (the syn­thetic form that you get in sup­ple­ments and for­ti­fied foods), and with good rea­son: It’s a nec­es­sary nu­tri­ent for pre­vent­ing cer­tain birth de­fects early on in preg­nancy and for en­sur­ing a healthy preg­nancy af­ter that, so try to get about 600 mi­cro­grammes a day.

The potas­sium in orange juice is im­por­tant for keep­ing your mus­cle func­tion, me­tab­o­lism and over­all health in check.

Dark green veg­gies sup­ply cal­cium, potas­sium, fi­bre, fo­late and vitamin A.

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