During pregnancy, it’s important to focus on the nutrients you consume. Not only do they affect your health, but they also play a role in your child’s development. With so much conflicting information on the internet, it can be hard to know what to eat, but one important nutrient that is packed with benefits is antioxidants.
In addition to being found in a variety of tasty foods, there are a number of benefits that antioxidants can provide the body before, during and after pregnancy including protecting cells from oxidative damage, supporting the immune system and reducing inflammation, to name a few.
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While a number of popular foods are high in antioxidants and yield a variety of benefits, here are ten of the top choices for incorporating antioxidants into your diet during pregnancy and beyond.
Blueberries are one of the most nutritious foods to eat during pregnancy. Antioxidants are important for pregnant women because they help to protect the developing fetus from oxidative damage, and blueberries are packed full of them. Blueberries are also a good source of fiber, which can help to prevent constipation. In addition, blueberries are low in calories and fat, making them a healthy snack choice for pregnant and nursing women. As an added bonus, their sweetness means they can help satisfy sugar and dessert cravings without adding unhealthy empty calories to the diet. Whether adding them to a salad, eating them on their own or enjoying them in a crustless blueberry pie, this is one fruit not to skip out on.
Did you know that grapes are packed with vitamins C and E, both powerful antioxidants? Grapes contain polyphenols, which are impressive antioxidants that can aid in safeguarding cells from damage. These polyphenol nutrients are also important for pregnant women because they can help to reduce inflammation and improve blood sugar control.
Believe it or not, onions are a rich source of protecting polyphenols. In addition, they also contain quercetin, a powerful antioxidant shown to reduce the risk of congenital disabilities. But, that’s not all; onions are also a good source of folic acid, which is essential for developing the neural tube and reducing the risk of pregnancy complications.
Walnuts are a perfect source of antioxidants, including vitamin E, which is an essential for the pregnancy diet. Vitamin E helps keep the placenta healthy and positively affects the baby’s nervous system development. Including walnuts in your diet as a snack, meal additive or additional ingredient in your favorite banana or chocolate chip cookie recipe can have a number of added benefits.
5. Black Beans
Another excellent source of antioxidants, black beans are also a good source of protein, fiber, and other nutrients such as vitamin A, calcium, folate, magnesium, iron and potassium; all of which play their own specific role in providing a healthy foundation for you and baby’s health.
Not just a great option for allergy sufferers, honey is a delicious, natural sweetener that has been used for centuries, and a powerful source of antioxidants. Containing mostly natural sugar, honey is a mix of not only antioxidants but also of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, iron, and zinc.
By now you may have heard that apples are a good snack option due to their low-calorie content. This tasty fruit is a rich source of quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to promote a healthy pregnancy. Quercetin can reduce inflammation, improve blood sugar control, and even protect against congenital disabilities. In addition, apples are also an excellent source of fiber, which is essential for maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight. Thus, it’s another perfect option for a healthy pregnancy snack.
Any expecting mother knows that a healthy diet is essential for her and her baby. Beetroot is an excellent source of antioxidants, and including it in your diet can have numerous benefits. The most well-known benefit is its ability to lower blood pressure, which is especially important for pregnant women. Beetroot is also a good source of folic acid, which helps to prevent congenital disabilities. In addition, ingesting beetroot has been shown to improve brain function and increase exercise endurance.
9. Lean Meat
Lean meat is an excellent source of protein, essential for developing your baby’s muscles, bones, and organs. It’s also a good source of iron, which is necessary for producing red blood cells. So, where do the antioxidants come into play when it comes to lean meat you may be asking — lean meat is a rich source of selenium, a mineral that not only has antioxidant properties, it also plays a role in producing antioxidant enzymes which play a role in preventing cell damage. Including lean meat in your pregnancy diet is just another way of ensuring you to get the nutrients and antioxidant benefits you need to support a healthy pregnancy.
One of the best sources of antioxidants around, this leafy green vegetable contains vitamins A, C, and E and carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. Spinach is also a good source of folate, which is essential for pregnant women. An amazing superfood in any form, this is great in salads, as a side dish, on sandwiches and wraps or blended into a green smoothie.
While many different nutrients are important for a healthy pregnancy, antioxidants are crucial. These substances help to protect cells from damage, and they play an important role in fetal development. Some of the greatest sources of antioxidants include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Including these foods in your diet can help to ensure that you and your baby get the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy.