It’s “natural” that your body needs more food during pregnancy. Besides caring for your body’s needs, you’re also nourishing another human, which causes you to crave more food. But what you eat (or don’t eat) matters. We made a list of the healthy foods you should include in your diet as a pregnant woman in Nigeria.
The best 5 foods for pregnant women in Nigeria
But in general, you should include the foods below in your diet.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more nutritious food than eggs. They contain mostly protein and fat, with small amounts of carbohydrates. Because of this, they help pregnant women maintain healthy blood sugar and prevent gestational diabetes.
Some eggs are also good sources of vitamin D. The “sunshine vitamin” helps pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers develop strong bones while promoting healthy fetal development.
Besides vitamin D, eggs also contain significant amounts of vitamins A, B (2, 5, 6, and 12), calcium, selenium, choline, and zinc. The nutrients promote cell growth, boost the immune system, and prevent birth defects or preterm birth.
Without iron, pregnant women are likely to suffer from iron-deficiency anemia—the lack of healthy red blood cells for oxygen circulation. As a result, you’re prone to extreme fatigue and the risk of delivering a low-birth-weight baby. Eggs, however, are an iron-rich food that can fill your iron quota during pregnancy. What’s more? Eggs are easy to prepare, which is a big plus if you prefer to set your meals.
2. Salmon, tilapia, and herring (shawa) fish
Salmon, tilapia, and herring have a few things in common: they contain significant portions of omega-3 fatty acids, making them perfect for pregnant women.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential, healthy fats your body needs. Adequate intake improves blood clotting, inflammatory and allergic responses, and kidney health. In pregnant women, omega-3 fatty acids provide the following benefits:
- Improve cognitive (thinking) and visual abilities of babies.
- Increases the release of eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acids (DPA), which reduce the risk of depression and postpartum mood disorders in mothers.
- It prevents preterm labor and delivery.
3. Beans and fiber-rich foods
During pregnancy, there’s a strong possibility that your intestinal tract will slow down, leading to constipation or hemorrhoids. You need to consume fiber-rich foods like beans, which contain soluble fiber. Soluble fiber acts as a laxative by increasing the water content of stool, which normalizes bowel movements and prevents constipation.
Besides, fiber-rich foods, like beans, typically have a low glycemic index (the ranking system for foods containing carbohydrates). As a result, they reduce blood sugar levels and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Because the human body can’t break down fiber, it serves as food for “good” bacteria in the gut (large intestines). The friendly bacteria then produce healthy nutrients such as acetate and propionate. Low levels of acetate in women may cause preeclampsia, a pregnancy-induced high blood pressure that interferes with the immune development of babies in the womb. But adequate fiber intake can help pregnant women navigate preeclampsia because it produces acetate after fermentation in the gut.
4. Fruits and vegetables
Examples of fruits you should eat during pregnancy are:
- Oranges: Rich sources of vitamin C, water, and folate
- Mangoes: Good sources of vitamins A and C.
- Bananas: Contain high levels of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6, and fiber.
- Berries: Contain vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber. Raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries are examples of berries you should take.
- Apples: They supply vitamins A and C, fiber, and potassium. It may also reduce the likelihood of babies developing asthma and allergies.
Examples of vegetables you should eat during pregnancy are:
5. Water and dairy products
You can’t afford not to drink water during pregnancy. Besides fulfilling daily fluid intake, hydration improves the delivery of nutrients from mothers to babies. It also helps waste products leave the body.
Dairy products provide the additional calcium and protein your body needs because of pregnancy. They also contain high amounts of phosphorus, vitamin B, magnesium, and zinc. Calcium-rich foods support bone and tooth development.
Examples of dairy foods and calcium-rich foods suitable for pregnant women are:
Health tip: If you’re lactose intolerant, speak with your medical experts before exploring dairy product options.
Pregnancy diet: 3 foods pregnant women should avoid
1. High-mercury fish
Mercury is unsafe for pregnant women, whether at high or low exposure. It causes developmental problems in children and negatively affects the immune system and kidneys. Marine fish mostly contain mercury and are found in polluted areas.
Examples of high-mercury fish you should avoid are:
- King mackerel
On the other hand, low-mercury fish and seafood that are healthy for pregnant women are:
Health Tip: Avoid eating undercooked or raw fish because they may cause bacterial infections that cause dehydration and weakness. The same theory applies to meat and eggs.
It increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.
2. Junk foods
Although pregnancy increases your appetite for food, processed junk foods aren’t the answer to your cravings. Junk food is high-calorie food with little nutritional value that may cause weight gain and gestational diabetes.
Where can I shop for healthy meals for pregnant women in Nigeria?
We know pregnancy cravings make you want to shop in bulk. Pally—the bulk-sharing feature—helps you split food prices with friends or other shoppers. This way, you can shop for more fresh fruits, vegetables, foodstuffs, and baby food for less cash. Some of the infant cereals you can buy in small or bulk quantities with us are:
We’ll also deliver your food items to your preferred location when you want them, or the next day if you stay in Lagos. If you live in Abuja or Port Harcourt, you’ll receive your food orders the same day. Delivery prices fall within the ₦2,000-₦3,000 range, irrespective of the location. Happy shopping!