Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Food & Your Pregnancy


Green, Leafy vegetables such as collard greens, swiss chard and spinach - these are loaded with vitamins A, C, K, folic acid and iron and are good for growing healthy tissue. Leafy greens are also high in magnesium and vitamin B12. Before conception, mothers can add a folic acid supplement as well as add leafy greens to their diet plan to help prevent neural tube defects.

Sweet Potatoes - Sweet potatoes are a healthier substitute than white potatoes. They contain large amounts of vitamins A and C as well as a good amount of dietary fiber.

Blueberries - These healthy berries contain vitamin C, manganese and are chock full of antioxidants. Blueberries are versatile and are an easy addition to yogurt, ice cream, and cereal for snacking or to add to any meal of the day.

Apples - An easy fruit to throw in your bag for quick snacking, apples contain fiber and vitamin C. You might consider eating an apple a day since apples have just been shown to reduce the incidence of asthma in children when mothers ate 4 or more apples each week.

Lean Organic Chicken Breast - With 87% of your daily recommended amount of protein in just one cup of cooked chicken breast, you will also be getting plenty of selenium, niacin and vitamin B6 when you add lean organic chicken to your pregnancy diet plan. Chicken also contains some omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

Nuts- These are a quick protein source to take with you during the day. Choose almonds since they are high in vitamin E and manganese and cashews for their magnesium.

Lowfat Organic Yogurt - One of the best sources of calcium that your baby needs for his or her bone development, organic yogurt is also rich in protein. Organic yogurt contains good bacteria and is the perfect food to add to your diet if you are taking antibiotics.

Whole Grains - Look for breads that are high in fiber (4-5grams per slice) and enriched with folate or folic acid.

Cereals - Find cereals that are low in fat, high in protein and fiber (at least 5gm per serving) and enriched with folate to be sure you are getting plenty of this crucial mineral to prevent neural tube defects.

Beans and Legumes - Beans such as pinto, red and black beans as well as lentils are packed with fiber, protein, folate and tryptophan. These beans also contain a little known mineral called molybdem which helps to detoxify sulfites (a substance often added to processed foods such as deli meats and salads.)

Don't eat:

Raw meat such as sushi, seafood, rare or uncooked beef, or poultry because of the risk of contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella.

Raw eggs, or foods containing raw egg such as Caesar dressing, mayonnaise, homemade ice cream or custard, unpasteurized eggnog, or Hollandaise sauce because raw eggs may be contaminated with salmonella.

Soft cheese such as blue cheese, feta, Brie, Camambert, and Latin-American soft white cheeses such as queso blanco and queso fresco because they may harbor harmful bacteria.

Fish containing accumulated levels of mercury in their fatty tissues such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish. When a pregnant woman consumes large amounts of mercury, her baby may suffer brain damage resulting in developmental delays (for example, delays in learning to walk or talk).

Fish containing high levels of an industrial pollutant called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in their fatty tissues such as bluefish and striped bass, and freshwater fish such as salmon, pike, trout, walleye from contaminated lakes and rivers. According to the March of Dimes, consumption of large amounts of PCBs by pregnant women is linked to decreased attention, memory, and IQ in their babies. Check with your local Health Department to determine which fish in your area are safe to eat.

Be Cautious

According to the March of Dimes, deli meats have led to outbreaks of a form of food poisoning called Listeriosis, that is particularly harmful to fetuses. While the risk is low, you may want to thoroughly reheat deli meats to an internal temperature of 165 degrees (including hot dogs) or avoid them altogether.

Minimize the amount of liver you eat. According to the March of Dimes, animal liver contains very high levels of vitamin A. While vitamin A is good for you, women who consume too much may risk a higher incidence of birth defects in their babies (however, studies are not conclusive). Since you're probably already taking prenatal vitamins and eating other vitamin A-containing foods, it's better to be safe and not consume liver on a regular basis. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended has that pregnant woman maintain their vitamin A intake around 8,000 IU and that vitamin A be taken in the form of beta-carotene, which is not considered toxic.

According to the FDA, consumption of artificial sweeteners is safe for the general public. No studies show conclusively that it's harmful to consume artificial sweeteners during pregnancy. However, this is a personal decision, and for your peace of mind--and just to be on the safe side--you might decide to limit your consumption of artificial sweeteners during pregnancy. Instead, substitute fruit juice with sparkling water when you need a light, refreshing drink.

According to a 1999 U.S. Health and Human Services press release, raw sprouts have led to some incidents of salmonella outbreaks. They advise that pregnant women eat sprouts that are cooked, or avoid eating them altogether.

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