As you know, folate, fiber and iron are essential nutrients for you and your growing baby. What you may not know is that you can get all three by eating chives. Or, how about adding figs to your diet to boost your calcium intake? From The 100 Healthiest Foods to Eat During Pregnancy, here are 10 unexpected (and delicious!) foods that will provide the nutrition you need during pregnancy.
Serving Size: 1 cup (about 8 dried figs)
There’s a whopping 5 grams of fiber in just 1 cup of dried figs. Plus, figs are a great nondairy source of calcium; one serving contains about a quarter of your daily needs (1,000 milligrams). And while your teeth may not appreciate the high sugar content, they will benefit from the potassium, phosphorus and magnesium in figs. These tooth-supporting nutrients aren’t just great for your own mouth; they are essential to the 32 teeth forming below the gums in your growing baby’s mouth.
Figs are also a good source of iron. Iron deficiency can cause anemia, especially during pregnancy, thanks to the increase in your blood volume and growing demands by the baby for iron to produce millions of red blood cells. Stewed figs contain about 3 milligrams of iron (about 10 percent of your daily recommended intake) in 1 cup. The same number of figs will also provide your body with 23 micrograms of vitamin K, which is needed for proper blood clotting and bone formation.
Serving Size: 2 tablespoons, chopped
Seen as a garnish, chives tend to be overlooked. But, these small, mild-tasting green onions are a source of folate (the synthetic form is folic acid), iron, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium and magnesium. Folic acid may be the most important nutrient of the first trimester. Without it, your baby has an increased risk for structural defects that could be fatal. There are 6.4 micrograms of folate per 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh chives.
For proper iron absorption, your body needs vitamin C. Chives give you both—about 3.5 milligrams of vitamin C and 0.1 milligrams of iron per 2 tablespoons. Plus, your sprinkle of chives has about 12 milligrams of magnesium; this mineral can help alleviate constipation, a common symptom during pregnancy. In fact, magnesium is involved in more than 300 cellular reactions, making it very important to your health and your growing baby’s.
3. Pinto Beans
Serving Size: ½ cup, dried
Pinto beans are one of the healthiest foods on Earth. There is 1 milligram of copper (about 100 percent of your recommended daily amount), 5 milligrams of iron (about 19 percent of your RDA) and more than 400 milligrams of phosphorus (that’s more than half of your daily needs) in 1∕2 cup. Copper aids in forming red blood cells; iron is important for making hemoglobin, the substance in your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to your baby; and, phosphorus works with calcium to ensure that your baby’s bones and teeth are growing properly.
Pinto beans are also packed with fiber; one serving contains 15 grams. (As a pregnant woman, you need about 28 grams of fiber each day.) One of the best strategies for helping to avoid the nausea and vomiting commonly experienced during the first trimester is to keep your belly feeling satisfied and full. Foods with a high fiber content can be an ally in your battle against morning sickness.
Serving Size: 1 medium artichoke
Feeling sluggish? Reach for an artichoke. This vegetable is a great nonmeat source of iron, which is an energizing nutrient. A medium boiled artichoke has about 1 milligram of iron (about 12 percent of your recommended daily intake). There’s another energizing nutrient in artichokes: folate. (A medium-size artichoke has 100 micrograms.) Besides helping to prevent birth defects, folate helps your body metabolize proteins, the building blocks for the hormones and enzymes that help your body keep going.
During your pregnancy, you may suffer from constipation, which can be alleviated with some extra fiber in your diet. Artichokes are wonderful sources of fiber, with 10 grams each. And they’re often recommended to soothe indigestion, another common pregnancy complaint.
6. Pumpkin Seeds
Serving Size: ½ cup
Part of the healing that occurs on a regular basis in your body during pregnancy is the repair of muscles. As your uterus grows, your back, abdominal and hip muscles are required to stretch in new ways. With sufficient protein in your diet, these muscles will be better armed to keep up with their new tasks. Adding pumpkin seeds to your diet will help boost your intake of protein; there are 5 grams of protein per serving. These tasty seeds also contains sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and many other minerals involved in muscle health and hydration. One of the most important minerals required for healing is zinc—1 cup of pumpkin seeds provides close to half of your daily needs.
One serving of pumpkin seeds contains more than 25 percent of your recommended daily intake of magnesium, which helps speed your ability to use carbohydrates, fats and proteins as sources of energy. Pumpkin seeds are also a vegetarian source of iron, with about 2 milligrams per cup.