A healthy diet is an extremely important component to a healthy pregnancy and newborn baby. However, according to research published in the Nutrition & Dietetics Journal, only about half of pregnant women eat the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables that they should for a healthy pregnancy. There are two important reasons why eating healthy is important during pregnancy: the long-term health of the mother and the health of the unborn child.
Vegetables During Pregnancy – Healthy Benefits for Baby
The 9 months during which a fetus develops is a crucial time for healthy eating by the pregnant mother. Her baby relies completely on her ability to sustain a healthy diet, and vegetables are an integral part of that. There are several benefits for the baby of mothers eating vegetables while pregnant, including healthy birth weights of babies and reduced risks for long-term health complications and diseases. The following are just a few examples of the nutritional benefits and sources of essential vitamins and minerals that are derived from vegetables.
Beta Carotene – This is imperative for the development of cells and tissues, as well as healthy optical (vision) growth. Beta carotene is also required for a healthy immune system, which will help a newborn baby fight off the viruses and bacteria in his or her environment. Pregnant mothers can find beta carotene in:
- Sweet potatoes
- Turnip and beet greens (the leafy stem portions)
- Winter squash
Vitamin C – Not only is Vitamin C important for healthy bone and teeth development, but it assists in the growth of connective tissues (tendons, cartilage, etc.). Good sources of vitamin C include:
- Brussels sprouts
Folic Acid – Also known as folate, this B vitamin is important to healthy growth of infants, even before a mother becomes pregnant. Doctors recommend that at least 3 months before conception a woman get at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily in order to reduce the risks by up to 70% that her infant will be born with a neural tube defect such as Spina Bifoda. Vegetable sources of folic acid include:
- Romaine lettuce
Vegetable During Pregnancy – Healthy Benefits for Mom
Eating vegetables during pregnancy is not just good for baby, but essential for pregnant mothers to remain healthy as well. The benefits of a diet rich in vegetables include healthy weight gains and maintenance, controlled blood pressure, and reduced risks of anemia. Moms who are planning to get pregnant or who already are should look for the following benefits of specific nutrients.
Potassium – This mineral helps to balance fluid levels, regulate blood pressure, and helps muscles perform well. Blood volume in pregnant women can increase by as much as 50%, requiring slightly increased levels of electrolytes (including potassium). Pregnant mothers who experience leg cramps, especially at night, should consider whether or not their potassium intake is adequate. Vegetables that supply potassium include:
- Beet greens
- Lima beans
Fiber – Especially helpful in regulating a woman’s digestive system, fiber is also important for reducing a woman’s risk of gestational diabetes. Adequate levels of fiber also help to keep moms-to-be from getting constipated and dealing with things such as hemorrhoids. Some vegetables that can provide fiber include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Cooked carrots
- Sweet corn