Fruits and vegetables are an important part of any healthy diet, especially during pregnancy, because they are packed with essential nutrients and full of fibre.
Have a slice of cantaloupe or a bowl of strawberries for a snack, and you’ll provide your baby with vitamins and minerals for growth while keeping yourself healthy too. Pair the fruit with a little protein, like cottage cheese, and you’ll get a sustained energy boost to get you through a long afternoon.
Key vitamins supplied by this food group include beta carotene, needed for your baby’s cell and tissue development, vision, and immune system; vitamin C, crucial for your baby’s bones and teeth, as well as the collagen in your baby’s connective tissue; potassium, which helps control blood pressure; and folic acid, which helps prevent neural tube defects and promotes a healthy birth weight.
The fibre content of fruits and vegetables also provides a number of benefits, including keeping your bowels moving. This helps prevent constipation and hemorrhoids, two common problems during pregnancy.
How Much You Should Eat
As often as possible, try to eat 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 to 3 cups of vegetables a day. Here’s what counts as a cup:
- 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables
- 2 cups raw leafy greens (or 1 cup of leafy greens and 1/2 cup of other vegetables)
- 1 cup raw, canned, or frozen fruit
- 2 small bananas (less than 6 inches) or 1 large (8 to 9 inches)
- 1/2 cup dried fruit
- 1 medium to large piece of fruit (1 large orange, 1 medium pear or grapefruit, 2 large plums, 1/2 large apple)
- 1 cup 100 percent fruit juice, vegetable juice, or fruit-vegetable juice
For maximum nutrition, include plenty of leafy greens, and vary the colour of the produce you choose, making sure to include dark green and deep yellow, orange, purple, and red. (Also try to include legumes on the menu two to three times per week.)
Fresh is best, but frozen and even canned are good (as long as you avoid fruit packaged in sugary liquid). Think beyond apples, oranges, and bananas, too. Here are some other tasty and nutritious possibilities.
Some excellent fruit choices;
- grapefruit or grapefruit juice
- raspberries and blackberries
Some excellent vegetable choices;
- bell peppers
- endive or escarole
- green peas
- greens (such as collard greens, kale, leafy lettuce, mustard greens, spinach, Swiss chard)
- summer squash
- sweet potatoes or yams
- winter squash
Easy Ways To Add More Fruits And Vegetables To Your Diet
- Keep produce washed and ready to eat so it’s easy to grab a bowl or handful of fruit or vegetables for snacking.
- Make dishes that can include a number of vegetables, such as stir fries, omelets, and salads.
- Roast or grill vegetables to enhance the flavours.
- Make extra of your side vegetable, and then turn it into a salad for the next day. (Steam your broccoli lightly, then serve half with dinner and make a broccoli salad with the other half.)
- Make a low-fat dressing or dip to serve with your fruits and vegetables. Or simply dip them in plain yogurt.
- Use herbs and spices to enliven your vegetables.
- Keep fruit where you’ll see it – front and center in the refrigerator rather than hiding in the back, for example.
- Add fruit to your breakfast cereal, pancakes, or waffles.
- Make a smoothie with yogurt, fruit juice, and fruits like strawberries, bananas, blueberries, papayas, and mangos.
- Be adventurous. Try a new fruit and a new vegetable every time you shop for groceries.
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