Fats Are Good Food for Pregnant Women
We seem to spend an awful lot of time in our modern lives finding ways to avoid fat. It really is a shame that we have become so fat phobic, because fats are essential to good nutrition on many levels. When looking at food for pregnant women, fat is even more important, since it plays a critical role in the baby’s development.
What Does the Baby Need?
Your baby grows from the same nutrients you need to stay healthy; protein, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fats. It doesn’t take much to provide the baby’s needs though, between 200 to 300 calories a day, although that grows a bit towards the end, to approximately 500 calories. How you add those calories is very important, especially if you don’t want to gain more weight than necessary.
Yes, really, you need fat during your pregnancy, just as you do when you aren’t pregnant. Your choices of fat are just as important now as well. Mono and polyunsaturated fats are essential to your health and the proper development of the baby’s nervous system and brain.
The omega 3 fatty acids found in fish not only help your baby’s brain develop, they seem to offer protection from the mercury found in certain fishes as well.
As the typical American is already rich in Omega 6s, try to focus more on sources of Omega 3s. You can find them readily in fish, as stated above, but there are other sources too such as pumpkin seeds and flax seeds. In fact there are many foods that are now enriched with Omega 3s to try and balance out nutritional profiles.
Where to Find Healthy Fats
1. Avocados – These poor maligned fruits offer much more than just monounsaturated fats. They contain high levels of folate. Folate important in preventing spinal cord defects and they help lower risks of heart disease and stroke.
2. Raw Almonds – Not only do these fabulous nuts reduce cholesterol they may help prevent gestational diabetes and regulate blood sugar. An additional perk? They help reduce the odds of constipation, a constant challenge during the last few months of pregnancy.
3. Wild Caught Salmon – One of the best fish you can eat at any point in your life, fish is especially important during pregnancy. Not only does it give you plenty of healthy protein it also contains plenty of Omega 3 and avoids the PCBs that are common in farm raised fish.
4. Whole, organic eggs – Many eggs are now fortified with omega 3. Aside from that they are wonderful sources of inexpensive protein, offer plenty of choline which helps in brain function and lutein for eye health.
How Much Fat Should I Eat?
Just as before your pregnancy, you should eat about 25-30% of your calories from healthy fats. While some saturated fats are important most of your fats should come from mono and polyunsaturated sources.
Fats are high in calories – 9 calories per gram – so keep track of what you are eating and how much, on the positive side they also provide a feeling of satiety that you won’t get eating foods that contain no fat.
How to Avoid Getting Fat while Eating Fat
Not surprisingly the next concern many pregnant women have is how they will avoid getting fat while getting the fat they need to help their baby develop. It isn’t unusual for athletic women to decrease their fat intake to reduce their body fat levels.
The key in this is sticking to a reasonable eating plan. You don’t need to start piling on fats when you eat, just keep on top of your caloric limits, and fit in the right fats throughout the day.
So the next time someone tells you that fats are bad for you just because you are pregnant simply ignore them and keep doing what you know is right.