If you have been following my blog, you may have been keeping up with the Healthy Pregnancy Series, which highlights important nutrients and recipes for a healthy pregnancy. Over the past few weeks we have talked about the importance of Folate, Iron, and Calcium. This is the final post of the series and in today’s post, we are going to talking about: Omega-3 fats.
Why are omega 3 fats important during pregnancy?
Omega-3 fats are an essential fat which means that your body cannot make it and instead, you must get it from food. During pregnancy, omega-3 fats are important for brain and eye development in your baby. There are many forms of omega-3. Choose a variety of foods to make up your omega-3 fat needs.
Foods that are high in omega-3 fat include:
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel or herring
Walnuts, ground flax seeds, chia seeds
Foods fortified with omega-3 fats such as margarine, eggs, yogurt, juice, soy beverages (read the label to see if they are fortified)
When choosing fish, remember to avoid fish that are high in contaminants like mercury. Do not eat recreational fish because these fish are not regulated. Do not eat more than 1 meal per month of predator fish to avoid excess mercury such as swordfish and fresh or frozen tuna.
Fish that are safe to eat during pregnancy include:
Canned light tuna
Lake white fish
Dietitian Approved Recipes High in Omega-3 Fats
A great recipe with lots of omega-3 fats is this Lasagna Roll-Ups with Walnut Basil Sauce by Food Pleasure & Health. This is a new take on lasagna by using a walnut (or should I say omega-3 filled) sauce and sautéed zucchini inside the lasagna sheets. Make it your own by using seasonal veggies or whatever you have on hand.
You can also try my One Bowl Chocolate Power Cookies if you are craving a little something sweet. These cookies are made with just a few ingredients, one of which is hemp hearts for that boost of omega-3 fats. They are also packed with fibre and protein making them the perfect healthy cookie (yes, they exist!).
For a sweet treat also packed with omega-3 fats, these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins are great by Love & Zest. This recipe contains walnuts and flaxseed meal for omega-3 fats as well as some delicious pumpkin flavour which goes along with the current fall season.
As we wrap up the Healthy Pregnancy Series, here are some general healthy living tips to remember during pregnancy:
Add 2 or 3 more servings of food every day. A common misunderstanding during pregnancy is the idea of “eating for two”. Really, you only need to be eating a little more food, which is about 2 or 3 extra servings of food per day. This is more than enough to support your high energy needs, especially during your second and third trimester. You can add an extra snack during the day or an extra serving at your meal. Think "eat twice as healthy, not twice as much" during your pregnancy.
Avoid raw, uncooked or unpasteurized foods. Foods that are raw, uncooked or unpasteurized may be contaminated with bacteria, which is why you want to avoid these foods during pregnancy. Make sure you wash fruits and vegetables before eating. Avoid sprouts like alfalfa which can also contain bacteria.
Continue to be physically active. If you have been physically active before your pregnancy, physical activity is great to continue throughout your pregnancy as well. Remember to take it slow and gradually. Talk to your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to continue to exercise during your pregnancy. Do not start a new exercise program during your pregnancy. As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to carry a conversation with someone while doing any physical activity. If you begin to feel tired, you should take a break.
Avoid excess caffeine and herbal tea. Try to limit your caffeine intake because caffeine can actually cross the placenta and affect your baby’s heart rate. Some herbal teas may cause contractions in the uterus.
Talk your doctor when in doubt. Anytime you feel unsure about your pregnancy, make sure to check with your doctor for reassurance or before starting anything new.
This is one of the most exciting moments in life and hopefully these tips are helpful to all of you expectant moms out there. Wishing you a healthy and happy pregnancy and baby!
If you missed the previous posts from the Healthy Pregnancy Series, check them out here: