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Healthy Foods For Pregnancy

By Tamera L. Young, RN, MSN

Healthy Foods For Pregnancy

Your pregnant plate is all about optimal nutrition as baby grows!

Your baby relies on you to provide the nutrition necessary for healthy growth and development. And what you eat also keeps you healthy. Lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, dairy and whole grains are your best bets for more energy, to feel better and be healthier during and after pregnancy.

Take in at least 400 micrograms of folic acid each day to prevent the most common spinal cord birth defects—you can get this through the foods you choose, like leafy greens, and daily prenatal vitamins.

For constipation, try increasing the fiber in your diet through more leafy greens, vegetables and whole grains. Experts at the USDA’s “ChooseMyPlate.gov” recommend the following foods especially during pregnancy for the healthiest diet possible:

Lean Proteins

  • Beans and peas
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Salmon, trout, herring, sardines, and pollock
  • Lean beef, lamb, and pork
  • Shellfish


  • Greens, including spinach, kale, collards, turnip greens, and beet greens
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Tomatoes and tomato sauces
  • Sweet peppers


  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew melon
  • Mangoes
  • Prunes
  • Bananas
  • Apricots
  • Oranges
  • Red or pink grapefruit
  • 100% prune juice or orange juice


  • Fat-free or low-fat yogurt
  • Fat-free milk (skim milk)
  • Low-fat milk (1% milk)
  • Calcium-fortified soymilk

Whole Grains

  • Fortified ready-to-eat cereals and breads
  • Fortified cooked cereals

Avoid These Foods in Pregnancy

  • Alcohol—there is no safe limit in pregnancy
  • Limit caffeine—some experts say up to 12 ounces may ok
  • Cold cuts and soft cheese—these can contain the bacteria listeria that can harm your pregnancy
  • Fishes high in mercury—shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish
  • Limit white albacore tuna to no more than 6 ounces a week because of mercury
  • High-fat, sugary and junk foods and drinks
  • Unpasteurized foods
  • Undercooked meats and eggs

Watch: Why Does The Nurse Check My Urine, Blood Pressure and Weight at Every Prenatal Visit? 

Tamera L. Young, RN, MSN, is an expert adviser to Healthy Mom&Baby.

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