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Published on February 8th, 2013 | by Guest Contributor

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Foods to avoid during pregnancy (and what TO eat)

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healthy pregnancy food veggies

A little while ago, we covered the teas that are not safe/recommended during pregnancy. We got a number of great questions and reader feedback about it and decided to cover foods that pregnant women should also avoid.

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Carnivorous fish

Like many pollutants, heavy metals undergo biological magnification as you go up the food chain. The general rule is the higher on the food chain, the more pollutants bioaccumulate in the tissues of the animal (humans are no different, which is why we advocate a healthy plant-based diet). Predatory fish that have high levels of mercury can be dangerous to your baby. Fish species high on the food chain like tuna, shark, mackerel, tilefish and swordfish are known to be high in mercury and should be avoided. High mercury fish has been linked to brain damage in pregnancy.

Soft fheeses

Certain cheeses can be harmful to a developing fetus. Avoid eating varieties like brie, feta and Gorgonzola, which may contain listeria. This bacteria, which is often harmless in adults, can be devastating to a developing fetus. Once again cheese is made with milk and animal products, so here is one more win for the vegans!

Raw and undercooked meat

Salmonella and E. coli are just two of the potential disease vectors that can result of eating undercooked meat. Although we feel a whole food, plant-based vegetarian or vegan pregnancy to be a superior health choice, if you are going to eat any meat during pregnancy you should be very sure that it is well done.

What TO eat: Healthy Foods for Expectant Moms

While there are many foods you should avoid, there are also some foods that moms are encouraged to eat during pregnancy:

  • Fresh vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, kale, beets and carrots are rich in vitamins and antioxidants.
  • Fruits like strawberries, melon, grapes, apples and oranges are also great to add to your diet.
  • Nuts, beans, and legumes for protein.
  • Whole grains. Skip the white bread and pasta and choose whole wheat instead.
  • Probiotics. Dairy or non-dairy yogurts can help soothe tummy woes that can come with pregnancy.

As with any other product you eat during pregnancy, proper food safety techniques are essential. Thoroughly wash all foods before you eat them to avoid coming in contact with pesticides and bacteria.

There are many places to buy healthy foods to enjoy throughout your pregnancy, but if healthy food is sometimes a struggle financially, here are a few strategies:

  1. Cook at home. You can save piles of money by not eating out and instead making whole grain meals with lots of vegetables in your own kitchen.
  2. Buy in bulk. The bulk food isle at your health food store is a great place to get healthy options on the cheap.
  3. If you need some credit during the 9 months of your pregnancy, some credit cards offer rewards points for shopping at certain merchants, at times including Whole Foods and other healthy grocery stores. Search for the top credit card offers to find the best one to finance your healthy pregnancy diet. You can use the money you save to open a savings account for your new baby!

Eating healthy during pregnancy is essential to having a healthy baby.

About the author: this post was supported and written by Jenn Smythe, a freelance writer interested in all things healthy and sustainable. 

Healthy foods for pregnancy photo from Shutterstock

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