Just about everyone has heard the old adage, “eating for two”, which isn’t entirely correct. Pregnant women an their little babies need micronutrients an macronutrients. Micronutrients are dietary components such as vitamins and minerals that are only required in small amounts. Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Pregnant women need to consume both nutrients on a daily basis.
How to meet these increased nutritional needs:
- Choosing a diet that includes a variety of healthy foods everyday
- Nuts, beans, and legumes = protein, folate, and iron
- Grains= energy
- Fruits and vegetables = antioxidants, fiber, water-soluble an fat-soluble vitamins
Okay so maybe some argue that pregnant women need both zinc and iron which is fair enough to include.
Sources of zinc:
- Nuts and seeds
- Wheat germ
- Nutritional Yeast
Sources of iron:
- Legumes: lentils, soybeans, tofu, tempeh, lima beans
- grains: quinoa, fortified cereals, brown rice, oatmeal
- nuts an seeds: pumpkin, squash, pine, pistachios, sunflower, cashews, unhulled sesame.
- vegetables: tomato sauce, Swiss chard, collard greens
- blackstrap molasses, prune juice
And I remind you “it’s not how much iron you consume, it’s how you absorb it.”
How you can absorb more iron?
- The less you eat the better it is absorbed; when consuming higher amounts of iron at one time the percentage that our bodies absorb is actually longer than when meals contain only a few milligrams. Eating smaller amounts throughout the day is a great way to increase absorption.
- Eat non-heme iron foods with Vitamin C foods. For example beans and rice with salsa, falafel with tomatoes, and hummus with lemon juice. Leafy greens, broccoli, and tomato sauce already contain vitamin c.
- Avoid coffee an tea with high-iron meals
- Cast-iron skillets increase absorption.
- Avoid spinach as an iron-source because spinach contains oxalates that block absorption.