Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful moments of life as you bring new life into this world. If you are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, you are most definitely hoping for a healthy and happy pregnancy. This blog post will be the first of the Healthy Pregnancy Series. The Healthy Pregnancy Serieswill highlight specific nutrients needed during pregnancy. This series will also share healthy recipes that are high in those specific nutrients to support you and your baby as it grows.
Pregnancy is a normal process that your body goes through but it comes with some slight changes to your metabolism. As you support another life in you, your nutrition needs are slightly higher than normal. The Healthy Pregnancy Series will highlight nutrients that are important and how you can make sure to get enough of each nutrient during your pregnancy.
Today’s healthy pregnancy nutrient is folate/folic acid.
Quick tip: Folate and folic acid are the same B vitamin, however, folate is the food form, while folic acid is the supplement form.
Why is folate important during pregnancy?
Folate supports the growth of the fetus and helps your baby’s spine, brain and skull grow in the first four weeks of pregnancy. This is why it is important to make sure you are eating enough folate even before you are pregnant or if you are planning a pregnancy so that your baby can grow optimally in the beginning weeks. Folate also helps you as the mother because it supports your body’s tissues and blood volume as your body starts producing more blood during this process.
How can you get enough folate?
Eating a balanced and varied diet is a great first step to make sure you are meeting your nutrition needs. However, it can be difficult to get your needs for folate from a balanced diet alone. This is why it is recommended to take a folic acid supplement with at least 0.4mg of folic acid. Since folate plays such a vital role in your baby’s growth and throughout pregnancy, you should consider taking a folic acid supplement 2-3 months before conception. However, do not take more than 1mg of folic acid without seeing your doctor to avoid risk of overconsumption.
Food is important to help you and your baby get the required nutrients to foster a healthy pregnancy so remember to eat nutrient rich foods even while taking vitamins.
Foods that include folate are:
Fortified grain products such as enriched pasta
Legumes like chickpeas, black, navy or pinto beans
Sunflower seeds and peanuts
Dark green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, sprouts, collards, mustard greens, brussels sprouts, asparagus and okra
Fruits like papayas and avocados
Dietitian Approved Recipes with Folate
If you are looking for a healthy and delicious recipe that is high in folate, try this Butternut Squash, Kale and Cranberry Rice from The Nutritionist Reviews. With the fall season in full swing, you cannot beat the great flavour and bright colour of butternut squash. The kale in this dish is great to add folate to your meal. The best part is that this dish can be eaten hot, cold or at room temperature to satisfy your pregnancy aversions or desires.
If you are still in the mood for some fall and folate recipes, you can also try this Fall Kale and Brussel Sprouts Salad by Nourish Breathe Thrive. Not only is this salad super easy to make, you can customize this salad your liking by adding different fruit and nuts for a crunchy texture.
Check out my easy and healthy Salad in a Jar recipe which is a perfect way to add all those vegetables high in folate into one simple dish. This recipe not only gives you a meal high in folate but also includes protein and healthy carbohydrates to make your meal complete without any fuss! Make a few jars and have them ready on hand for a healthy lunch throughout the week.
If you try any of these recipes, be sure to share on Instagram and Twitter by tagging me @NutritionbyNaz.
Are you ready to begin your healthy lifestyle journey but don't know where to start? Join me and many other women with The Muslimah’s Meal Plan!