Read our list on what foods to eat when you’re pregnant? Here’s five more.
WORDS JOANNA ONG
1. Vitamin C
Afrose Parveen, a nutritionist at Eat Right Nutrition Consultancy advises complementing the absorption of iron with Vitamin C. This nutrient also helps in the formation of collagen in bones, muscles and blood vessels in the developing baby. Most fruits especially oranges, lemons and vegetables are rich in many vitamins especially vitamin C, minerals, fibre and phytochemicals. During pregnancy, it is more important than ever to consume the recommended five or more servings a day from this food group. According to Meave Graham, a paediatric registered dietitian with Child Nutrition Singapore, pregnant women need to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables. A good rule of thumb is to try to include each colour each day (e.g. some red, purple, blue, orange, yellow, brown or white) as the different colour groups each carries their unique set of phytochemicals which confer health benefits. By consuming a range of colours, you are consuming a range of healthy phytochemicals.
2. Oily Fish
Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout or herring, should be eaten once or twice a week during pregnancy, Graham advises. The recommended serving size is 140g. Oily fish provide a special fatty acid called DHA which unborn babies need for brain and eye development. Oily fish also provide vitamin D which women require in greater amounts during pregnancy. However, certain types of fish (marlin, shark, swordfish and ray) should be avoided because they may contain mercury. Tinned tuna is not a good source of DHA and should also be limited to no more than four 140g cans per week.
If you do not eat fish, you can get ALA, a precursor of DHA, from flaxseed oil, walnut oil, soya oil, rapeseed or canola oil, chia seeds, linseeds or flaxseeds and walnuts. Do not take fish liver oil supplements during pregnancy as the high level of vitamin A is not safe.
3. Protein-rich Foods
Protein-rich foods should be included twice daily, says Parveen. Protein-rich foods include meat, fish, chicken, eggs, peas, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. They are the building blocks of cell development in your baby. Some protein-rich foods also provide a source of iron like red meats and breakfast cereals fortified with iron.
It was previously thought that eating nuts during pregnancy could increase the risk of nut allergy. We now know that this is not the case, and consuming nuts (if you don’t have an allergy) may even protect against the baby developing a nut allergy, Graham says. Nuts are actually very nourishing as they provide protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. One serving of nuts is a small handful or about the amount that fits in a shot glass. All nuts are healthy choices especially walnuts as they are high in ALA, a precursor to DHA which is essential for the baby’s brain and eye development.
This might be the most unlikely food for pregnant women but it’s good news for seafood lovers. According to Parveen, most seafood are high in zinc which is needed for cell growth, aids in the production and function of DNA and helps to support the immune system. Zinc can be found in shellfish such as prawns, crabs and mussels, so do ensure that the seafood is fully cooked before consuming them. A supplement of zinc of 11mg per day is recommended for women who are allergic to seafood.