So you just found out your a pregnant, now what? You want to be sure you are giving you and your baby all the nutrients you both need to have a successfull nine months.
Packed with essential vitamins, minerals and fibre, fruit and vegetables are a vital part of a healthy pregnancy diet. Find out how eating your 5-a-day can influence your baby’s future development and learn which fruits and vegetables are more nutrient dense and could be considered ‘superfoods’
As the most nutrient-dense of all the food groups, fruit and vegetables provide a comparatively high level of nutrients per calorie1. At a time when your recommended intakes of many nutrients is higher than usual, yet your recommended calorie intake doesn’t change much, if at all, it’s wise to make every mouthful count by choosing the most nutrient-dense foods during pregnancy
Vitamin C is important for normal immune protection. As well as helping to fight infections and protect cells2, vitamin C is needed to make collagen, the main structural protein of your baby’s body.
Potassium helps to maintain blood pressure and can be found in3:
Calcium contributes to your baby’s developing bones and teeth. Vegetable sources of calcium include3:
Fibre aids digestion and prevents constipation4. A variety of fruit and vegetables provide fibre, with some being especially good sources, including4:
- Sweet potatoes
Folic acid, is a B vitamin that occurs naturally in certain vegetables and other foods and helps to protect against neural tube defects5. It would be difficult to get this through food sources of folate alone, so a folic acid supplement is advised5.
Folate-rich foods can help to increase your intake even further and include6:
Which fruits are best for pregnancy?
Fresh, frozen, dried and tinned varieties of fruit all count towards your 5-a-day7. A glass of fruit juice counts as 1 of your 5-a-day, but due to its high sugar content, it can only be counted once towards your daily intake7.
But what is one portion? One serving of fruit or vegetables equates to8:
- 30g of currants, dates or figs
- Half a fresh grapefruit
- Two broccoli spears
- Four heaped teaspoons of cooked kale
- One medium pear
- Three apricots
What about dried fruits?
Dried fruit contains about the same amount of nutrients as fresh fruit. The process of drying the fruit removes water from the fruit, shrinking it down to a smaller size. That’s why just 30g dried fruit, such as currants, dates, or sultanas, counts as 1 of your 5 A Day. Try dried apricots and prunes for an extra dose of iron9.
5-a-day (or more) for a range of nutrients
You’re probably well aware of the 5-a-day guideline1. This is based on the fact that a minimum daily intake of 400g of fruit and vegetables help to lower the risk of serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity1.
Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day as part of a healthy pregnancy diet will provide many of the nutrients needed to support your own health and your baby’s development7.
Discover healthy, tasty recipes to eat during your pregnancy by chef Lorraine Pascale and our team of nutritionists.
Top superfoods for pregnancy:
Dark, leafy vegetables such as:
- Bok choy
- Seaweed – limit your intake to one portion per week to avoid getting too much iodine12
Dark leafy vegetables contain a variety of nutrients that support your baby’s development along with a healthy serving of fibre. Spinach is particularly rich in iron and folate13, while broccoli is a good source of calcium and vitamin D5.
Superfruits include berries such as:
With a higher concentration of nutrients and energy content for their size than most fruits, berries are one of the best fruits to eat during pregnancy to increase your nutrient intake7.
Nutrient-dense carbohydrates, such as:
- Sweet potatoes
- Wholegrain cereals
Carbohydrates are affordable, versatile and provide the energy that fuels your baby’s development. Bananas are a good source of energy as well as potassium and vitamin B6, which has been shown to help relieve nausea16.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes contain various nutrients. Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin A and keep blood sugar levels more stable due to their slow-release properties17. White potatoes supply potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, iron, vitamin C and certain B-vitamins17.
Wholegrain cereals are a fibre-rich source of energy. Look for fortified varieties that provide folic acid to support your baby’s neural tube development, and iron for its benefits to your baby’s brain6