What’s safe to eat in pregnancy?

Check out our at-a-glance guide to what you should and shouldn’t be eating during pregnancy

whats-safe-to-eat-in-pregnancy_31324

Eat your fill of…

Green leafy vegetables:

One of the best sources of folic acid, which protects your baby against neural tube defects. Try spinach, cabbage or Spring greens.

Advertisement

Wholegrains:

As well as protecting you against heart disease, wholegrains provide folic acid, iron and vitamin E. Choose bread, pasta, rice and cereals marked with wholemeal or wholegrain.

Take care with…

Oily fish:

Recommended for the essential fatty acids, but don’t exceed two portions a week as they could also contain harmful levels of pollutants.

Avoid…

Alcohol:

The Department of Health recommends that pregnant women avoid alcohol completely.

Soft cheese:

Don’t eat camembert, Brie, unpasteurised goats’ cheese and blue cheese due to the listeria risk.

Raw / undercooked meat, shellfish and eggs:

May cause food poisoning. This includes Parma ham, soft-cooked eggs, and home-made desserts or mayonnaise containing raw egg.

Liver:

Its high vitamin A content can harm your baby.

Iron in pregnancy

Midwife and lecturer Maggie Evans answers your questions about this essential pregnancy nutrient

Why do I need iron during pregnancy?

Iron is vital for physical growth and brain development, and helps produce the blood required to supply nutrition to the placenta. This is especially true in the last trimester, as the baby starts to demand more and more nutrients. Iron is particularly important to the baby’s development, and research has found that low iron levels can negatively affect cognitive and behaviour progression.

What are the best natural sources?

Red meat, fish, dark green leafy vegetables, pulses and dried fruit. Also, iron is more easily absorbed if taken with vitamin C – orange juice is ideal. However, it is difficult to absorb your recommended daily allowance from food alone, especially in pregnancy.

What about a supplement?

Spatone is an iron-containing spa water found in the mountains of Snowdonia National Park, which helps to prevent iron deficiency without the associated side effects of some iron supplements, such as constipation. It’s available from chemists and health food stores, priced at £6.95 for 28 sachets – visit www.spatone.com.

Easy ways to get your 5 a day

Fruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants – all of which can make your pregnancy easier and your baby healthier! Five portions a day might sound daunting, but it’s easier than you think:

Smoothie operator

Just choose the ingredients (try a banana, raspberries and 200ml skimmed milk) and let your blender do the work.

Tinned treasure

What could be easier than beans on toast! But check the salt content, as it can be high.

Drying out

Dried fruit counts too – try adding apricots, prunes or figs to cereal.

Keep it on ice

Frozen veggies can actually retain their nutrients better than fresh. Throw a handful of peas into pasta a few minutes before it’s cooked.

Salad days

Think salads are boring? Not so! Especially if you jazz it up by adding some healthy salmon and wild rice.

How much fish should I eat?

Oily fish – that means sardines, salmon, trout and herring – are packed with valuable omega-3 nutrients. A European committee of over 50 experts has recommended that pregnant and nursing women should have at least 200mg of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), a type of omega-3 essential fatty acid, in their diet every day. This was found to help the mums-to-be produce babies with higher birth weights, and fewer premature births. Health benefits were also observed in their babies, who displayed enhanced brain and eye development. However, there’s a lack of consistency with the expert advice, as the Food Standards Agency still recommends you only eat two portions of oily fish a week due to the potential dangers from the levels of pollutants it may contain. Check with your GP or midwife for further advice if you’re unsure.

5 ways to afford organic

Shop around

Different items will be cheaper from different suppliers. Try local stores, online services, farmers’ markets and box schemes as well as the supermarket.

Choose seasonal

Fruit and veg that’s in season will usually be a bit cheaper, as well as being more nutritious.

Have meat as a treat

Organic meat can be a lot pricier that non-organic, so save it for a treat two to three times a week and swot up on the veggie cookery.

Make from scratch

Make your own dishes rather than buying ready-meals, it’s much better value.

Advertisement

Cook in bulk

And freeze the surplus in individual portions for a quick meal next time.

Comments ()

Please read our Chat guidelines.