Power Foods For Pregnancy – Leafy Greens
One of the more challenging aspects when it comes to moderating weight gain during pregnancy is to make sure that the body is getting enough nutrients for the growing baby with just an extra 300-500 calories per day. For me, finding foods from which I could get “big nutrient bangs for my calorie bucks” was very helpful in maintaining a healthy weight gain while ensuring that I was providing adequate nutrients for the baby. Moreover, when I ate well, I didn’t have many of the pregnancy cravings that many expecting moms tend to experience, as these cravings are mostly results of nutrients deficiencies.
There are many leafy green vegetables: collard greens, spinach, kale, and chard, just to name a few. They are generally high in calcium and folate (the word comes from “foliage”)—the natural form of folic acid—which are essential for a healthy pregnancy.
Kale ranks the highest in antioxidant content in vegetables. It is important because your metabolism is higher during pregnancy—you generate more free radicals in your body just by breathing! Antioxidants help your body neutralize these free radicals so that they do not damage your cells. On top of that, your immunity is lower during pregnancy (so your body does not reject the fetus), so you can use every bit of help to stay strong.
Kale is also loaded with nutrients that are particularly in high demand during pregnancy: calcium, iron, and vitamins A, C, and K, as well as beta-carotene. Sauté with garlic, pine nuts and olive oil—the fat helps your body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A and K and beta-carotene—and you have a quick and healthy side dish.
Swiss chard is very nutrient-dense. It is rich in fiber, calcium, potassium (helps balance your electrolytes, and may help to relieve cramps, which are common during pregnancy), vitamins A and C, as well as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. It is a quick-cooking vegetable—to retain its nutrients, don’t overcook it.
If you live near a local farmers market, you would be dazzled by all the fresh produce—including a large variety leafy green vegetables—especially during the spring and summer. Besides supporting the local economy and reducing your carbon footprint, you will meet face-to-face with the people who grow your food. Most produce in the farmers market is either organic or at least not sprayed, making them a much healthier choice. You definitely want to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides when you are pregnant.