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5 Superfoods for Pregnancy

5 Superfoods for Pregnancy

Superfoods are foods of high nutritional value thanks to their active components. Most of us associate superfoods with foreign, expensive and somehow fashionable ingredients, such as spirulina or goji berries, but here are 5 foods that are easy to source and won’t ruin your budget! They have been selected thanks to specific health benefits for pregnant women and their developing babies.

Fermented foods

These include fermented foods, like sauerkraut, kimchi or sourdough bread and fermented
drinks like kefir and kombucha. Fermenting involves exposing a food or drink to bacteria
present in the air which results in a product of enhanced health properties. What are the
benefits? Many! What are the benefits to a mum-to-be? The bacteria start to break down the
food hence increasing its digestibility and absorption of nutrients, enriches and preserves its
nutritional value and contains natural probiotic bacteria that protect us from pathogens.

All of this results in more effective digestive system (can have positive effect on sluggish bowel)
and stronger immunity. It’s fairly easy to make fermented foods at home, but you can also
look for them in online shops, health stores, traditional bakeries and supermarket shelves.
Just remember to introduce them slowly as increased consumption may result in gas.

Flaxseed/linseed oil

This tiny little seed contains highest amount of -linolenic acid (ALA) that belongs to the
omega-3 fatty acid group amongst all nuts and seeds. The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are
widespread, from reducing inflammation in joints, supporting cardiovascular system, reducing
hypertension to modulating mood. To get the benefit, simply sprinkle linseed oil over cooked
vegetables, add a drizzle to a soup or make a salad dressing. To keep the nutritional value of
linseed oil, be sure to buy it in glass bottles and store in the fridge – use within use by date as
it can oxidize and loose its properties with time.

 

Fennel seeds

The seeds derived from a fennel plant have a long-standing tradition of use in many Asian
countries, especially India and Bangladesh. They are mainly praised for reducing bad breath
when chewed on at the end of the meal, but fennel seeds should become a pregnant
women’s best friends for several other reasons.

First, fennel tea drank regularly has a diuretic effect, meaning that it will help with water retention by gently increasing urination. If, at later stages of pregnancy, your body becomes puffy and swollen – brew a large teapot of fennel seed tea with some fresh parsley leaves and sip on it during the day. This will also reduce your risk of urinary tract infections and if drank in the summer, this tea will help you to stay
cool.

Second, fennel seeds contain volatile oils such as fenchone and anethole, which help
relieve stomach spasms and cramps and stimulate digestive system to produce enzymes
supporting better digestion and less bloating or gas after a meal. For the same reasons, weak
fennel tea can also be given to babies who suffer colic.

Eggs

They’ve earned their place on the superfoods list thanks to the enormous array of nutrients
they contain – protein of highest bioavailability, essential omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoids
(vitamin A precursors and strong antioxidants), choline and a whole portfolio of vitamins and
minerals. Thankfully, after almost 25 years of having a bad reputation, the eggs are now
taken off the hook and are no longer blamed for increasing cholesterol levels in the blood vessels.

This isn’t to say we should be indulging in eggs every single day – like with any
superfoods, consuming eggs also calls for moderation. To protect fragile fatty acids, it is best
to prepare eggs keeping the yolk on the runny side – try poached or soft boiled!

Turmeric

This spice derived from a turmeric plant gained a lot of interest in the last years, mainly
thanks to its active component curcumin. Curcumin, together with other chemicals in turmeric, reduces inflammation in the body and is therefore widely used as a healing agent in all inflammatory
conditions, such as hay fever, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome
and chest infections. However, when it comes to female health, curcumin is used as a
conjugant therapy in endometriosis and PCOS and is believed to support follicle
development.

Turmeric should appear on your menu if you’re trying to conceive but also in
the first trimester, as long as you reach for its natural form, not a supplement. To make the
most of its health benefits, use ground turmeric or freshly grated root with small addition of fat
component, such as ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil and add some freshly ground black
pepper. Use as a spice in curry dishes, add to soups, lentils and rice or make a turmeric latte.