by Melissa Jaramillo
Do you want to boost your nutritional intake while you're pregnant? It's not as difficult as you think.
The healthy foods you choose help to give you the best mix of "baby-building" nutrients. By the time you hit the second trimester, you will need an extra 300 calories every day.
If you want to make those extra calories count, chose from the list of foods we've provided below. They'll benefit you and your child.
✭ This item is great for protein, calcium, B vitamins, and zinc. Plain yogurt contains more calcium than milk. Mix yogurt with fruit preserves or honey, fresh or dried fruit, or crunchy whole-grain cereal. Use plain yogurt to top cooked sweet potatoes or to make smoothies.
✭ These delectable treats are packed with carbohydrates, vitamin C, potassium, folate, fiber, and fluid. Put them on top of whole-grain cereal, in smoothies made with yogurt or milk, pancakes and salads. Layer yogurt with berries and crunchy whole-grain cereal for a dessert parfait.
✭ Eggs are one of the best foods to grab protein because they give you all the amino acids you and baby need. Eggs also provide more than a dozen vitamins and minerals like choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Some brands infuse the eggs with omega-3 fats -- great for your baby's brain development and vision. Make an omelet or your favorite scramble, use in salads and sandwiches.
✭ This super food is awesome for folate, fiber, calcium, lutein, zeaxanthin, carotenoids to foster healthy vision, and potassium. Broccoli helps with vitamin A production in the body. Add it to pasta and stir-fry dishes, steam it and top with a bit of olive oil. Puree and add to soups.
✭ This gem packs in the vitamin C, folate, fiber, and carotenoids which are compounds your body converts to vitamin A. It also provides large amounts of potassium. Bake them, slice them once cold to use for snacks and side dishes or mash them up with orange juice.
✭ This food is fortified with folic acid and other B vitamins, iron, and zinc. They also contain more fiber and nutrients than white bread, white rice, and white flour. Try oatmeal for breakfast, as bread for sandwiches, brown rice, wild rice, pasta, quinoa or whole-grain crackers for snacks.
✭ Orange juice with added calcium and vitamin D has the same levels of these nutrients as milk. It also provides a big dose of vitamin C, potassium, and folate. Drink it up plain or freeze it as a popsicle or in your smoothies.
✭ Eat this fish for the protein, B vitamins, and omega-3 fats that promote brain development and vision in babies. Grill or broil it; use canned salmon in salads and sandwiches.
✭ Eating lean cuts of beef, like sirloin steak, supplies protein, vitamins B6, B12, and niacin as well as zinc and iron in highly absorbable forms. Beef is perfect to add to pasta sauces, tacos, burgers, chopped and sliced for stir-fry dishes, and in stews and chili.
✭ Not everyone can eat dairy but if you're able to add it to your diet, it furnishes concentrated amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium for you and your baby's bones. Cheese also has vitamin B12 and protein. You can always purchase reduced or lower-fat to save calories, fat and cholesterol. It's perfect for snacks, sprinkled on top of stews, chili or soups, in salads, sandwiches, and omelets.
✭ All kinds of beans, such as chickpeas, black beans, lentils and soybeans supply fiber, protein, iron, folate, calcium, and zinc. You can put this super food in chili soups, salads, and pasta dishes. Grind them up to create hummus and serve with whole-grain crackers or in sandwiches.
How will you work these into your pregnancy diet to boost your nutrition?
Photo courtesy iStockphoto.