This article discusses the importance of adding certain superfoods to your diet during the first trimester of pregnancy. This article is for informational purposes only. Please consult a health care provider for specific diet advice related to pregnancy. Find one here.
Hurray, you are pregnant! If your nerves are superseding your excitement at this point, you are not alone. The first three months of pregnancy are when your body undergoes massive changes to accommodate a growing human. How cool! In response, you are presented with symptoms ranging from nausea, food aversions, dizziness, loss of appetite, and more. How NOT cool!
But the first trimester is a vital time during which your body develops the baby’s major organs, the blood cells, and the circulatory system. Therefore, ensuring that you get a balanced range of nutrients necessary for the baby’s growth is essential.
While your overall diet matters most, adding certain “pregnancy superfoods” to your daily intake can help make the most of this demanding stage. These foods are packed with nutrients specifically beneficial for the initial stages of growth and development, the nutrition requirements of a mother during early pregnancy, and the reduction of symptoms related to it! So what are these superfoods for the first trimester? Let’s find out!
Whole grains include all three parts of the grain—the endosperm, the germ, and the bran. Whole grains are a source of complex carbohydrates-a macronutrient that easily tops our list of first trimester superfoods. Besides being your body’s preferred energy source, complex carbohydrates ease the edge of morning sickness and nausea. Whole grains such as whole wheat, whole corn, oats, brown rice, and quinoa offer much-needed folic acid, iron, vitamin B, and zinc to the mother and the growing fetus while also providing soluble and insoluble fiber that keeps you full and gives you the energy to get through those morning sickness bouts. Whole-grain cornmeal polentas, oatmeal, barley soups, and quinoa salads(excellent high fiber, protein, and gluten-free options) are a great way to incorporate whole grains into your first-trimester diet.
Eating a good quality protein is essential in supporting the rapid growth within you right now. Unfortunately, with food aversions, many moms find themselves unable to even look at meat, and forget being able to stomach it. This is where legumes save the day. Packed with protein that forms the building blocks of your baby’s cells, legumes are a superfood during your first trimester. You can choose from kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils of all colors, chickpeas, edamame beans, and more to cook up a chili, taco fillings, stir fry with veggies, or even a salad.
Eggs are superfoods in their own league. With one egg having 7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of healthy fats, and plenty of cell-building agents like omega 3 fatty acids, choline, vitamin D, E, A, and B, eggs are among the most nutrition-dense foods you can find. So eat them hard-boiled, scrambled, or even bake them into a quiche; eggs must form a part of your daily diet during pregnancy.
Many women are wary about eating fish during pregnancy because of mercury levels found in seafood. But when consumed in moderation, fish can be an incredibly rich source of nutrients like iodine and selenium, and Omega-three fatty acids– docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in particular that is responsible for the baby’s brain and eyes development. Eating fatty fish like wild-caught salmon, anchovies, and canned light tuna twice or three times a week(up to 12 oz weekly) can maximize benefits to neurocognitive development. You can avoid eating king mackerel, swordfish, shark, and tilefish which are typically higher in mercury.
Greek yogurt provides the additional calcium that your body now needs to meet the demands of a growing baby, and the probiotics present in yogurt are perfect for maintaining a healthy gut microbiota in a mother-to-be. In addition, the active cultures help prevent yeast infections, which are more common in pregnancy. Eating Greek yogurt also allows optimal vitamin absorption and keeps you feeling satiated for longer. So, if yogurt and berries are your go-to foods during the first trimester, go for it!
Nuts and Seeds
An addictive idea for snacking when nothing else sounds appetizing, seeds and nuts are tiny powerhouses of nutrition. While pistachios are known to help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, pumpkin seeds aid in the development of the fetus’ neurological system, and magnesium in chia seeds controls blood sugar in pregnant women. So, when all else fails, snack on nuts and seeds in all their variety!
Many pregnant women discover a new love for tart and tangy during the first trimester. Along with being chockablock with antioxidants that prevent cell damage and help in cell regeneration, berries also seem to ward off those nauseous feelings so common throughout this phase. Also, with over 80% water content, we don’t need to tell you that berries are great for hydration, which is very important if you are dealing with morning sickness.
Dark leafy greens
No list of superfoods can be complete without mentioning broccoli, kale, and spinach. With a bonanza of nutritive goodness, leafy greens during the first trimester provide plenty of folate, iron, calcium, vitamin A, C, and K. The best part about leafy greens is that you can sneak them into smoothies or add them to a pot of simmering broths or stews.
Eating avocado during your early pregnancy months will keep your blood pressure in check because of its high magnesium and potassium content. In addition, the good fats in avocados go a long way in keeping you fuller for longer and reducing the urge to snack often. You can add sliced avocados to your salad or toss avocado chunks into a nutritious smoothie.
When all else fails, steep some freshly ground ginger in a mug full of simmering water and brew yourself a cup of ginger tea. Ginger is known to reduce nausea and alleviate symptoms of vomiting during the first trimester. Ginger tea is also your go-to beverage if you suffer from a typical case of indigestion.
Yes! We couldn’t wrap up our superfood list without mentioning pomegranate! Pomegranates help reduce constipation, improve gut health, support the immune system, and contain vitamin K, a vital nutrient for the bone health of the growing baby and the mother. Studies show that it may even help reduce the risk of placenta damage. You can make a pomegranate and berries drink or top your salad generously with pomegranate arils.
How Can Holness Nutrition Help You?
It’s no surprise that your diet affects you and your baby during early pregnancy. Therefore, it is advisable to team up with a professional to understand your specific diet needs. Nicole Holness, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist from Holness Nutrition is certified to work with pregnant women and cater to pregnancy-related concerns such as pregnancy weight management, food intolerances, significant dietary adjustments, and other conditions. If you have any concerns, we have a solution! Book a free consult now to access a one-on-one call and discuss your pregnancy nutrition journey!
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 https://bmcpregnancychildbirth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12884-018-2123-4 Dietary Consumption of Legumes during pregnancy
 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6865885/ Potential of a Simple Egg To Improve Maternal and Child Health
 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7346675/ Fish Consumption During Pregnancy
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 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31062119/ Maternal Nut Intake In Pregnancy and Child Neuropsychological Development
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 https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-93240-4_6 Dark Leafy Greens as Superfoods
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 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3361977/ Pomegranate Juice and Punicalagin Attenuate Oxidative Stress and Apoptosis in Human Placenta and in Human Placental Trophoblasts