How Many Fruit and Vegetable Servings are needed per day during Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a time of great emphasis and concern for women about their health and the health of their unborn child. Often nutrition and other lifestyle decisions take “center stage”.  As such, women often wonder how do I eat right? How do I make smart food choices? Where do I find the best produce? How much will it cost? Will it taste good? Can I maintain these habits throughout pregnancy and beyond?

To answer the question, “How many fruit and vegetable servings are needed per day during pregnancy?”, consider the following simple advice:  Do what comes natural.

As a pregnant woman, you’re more likely to be hungry. Eat small snacks of fruit and vegetables several times per day to avoid getting hungry and consuming a lot at one time.  Choose fruits and vegetables that are in season avoiding canned or pre-sweetened options.  By eating often and in season, less effort is needed to plan and maintain a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables. When choosing fruits and vegetables, mix-it-up by choosing brightly colored options in any color of the rainbow to get a range of tastes and nutrients. Follow a calendar and choose a fruit and vegetable of the month as a focus and explore dishes with your chosen produce.

Experts recommend eating 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ – 3 cups of vegetables a day.  One cup is the same as one measuring cup in recipes.  A cup of vegetables can be obtained from raw or cooked vegetables or 100% vegetable juice or 2 cups of raw leafy greens. Likewise, one cup of fruits can easily be consumed raw, cooked, as 100% fruit juice or ½ dried fruit.

Fruit and vegetable consumption is essential to a healthy diet given their nutrient dense nature.  They are natural sources of energy, containing vitamins, minerals and fiber. Although vitamin supplements are also often recommended in pregnancy, they are no substitute to intake of fruits and vegetables.  Similarly, although fruit and vegetable consumption is essential, a healthy diet is not complete without protein, carbohydrates and small amounts of fat.  Likewise, a healthy pregnancy should also include exercise, sleep and prenatal care.

 

 

References:

  1. CDC National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Fruit and Vegetable Benefits. http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/benefits/index.html# accessed July 17, 2012.
  2. United States Department of Agriculture. ChooseMyPlate. Health and Nutritional Information for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/pregnancy-breastfeeding/making-healthy-food-choices.html  accessed July 17, 2012.
Dr. Gareth Forde

About Dr. Gareth Forde

An obstetrician-gynecologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, and a father of five—and he delivered them all! He speaks and publishes extensively on maternal and child health issues, where he emphasizes the role of a healthy maternal lifestyle, good nutrition, and breastfeeding on infant development. He chose the field of obstetrics because it is a celebration of life, a happy and exciting profession. “Children are a blessing and they bring joy and laughter to the world,” he says. “I cherish my work, as a doctor and a dad.” The study of genetic imprinting is a major focus of both Dr. Forde’s research and medical practice. This looks at what happens in the womb, how the genes a baby inherits are expressed (turned on and off), and how this influences the child’s health after birth. “This field holds great promise, shedding light on many unsolved mysteries in health and disease from infancy to adulthood,” he adds. Dr. Forde grew up in London, England and Orlando, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is currently pursuing a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this, he practiced with Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, a consortium of Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine—where he was a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. He also has a master’s in molecular and cellular biology from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; a Ph.D. in environmental science (computational chemistry) from Jackson State University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.”