Top Healthy and Organic Foods for the First Trimester

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Organic Sweet Potatoes

Organic sweet potatoes, in my opinion, are one of the world’s most perfect foods. Babies love pureed and mashed sweet potatoes, toddlers love sweet potatoes as finger food and yes, adults adore them as well. Sweet potatoes are ultra healthy and almost entirely fat-free. Just one cup of sweet potato has as much vitamin A as 16 cups of broccoli and is a great source of iron, vitamin E and dietary fiber.

Sweet potatoes are also perfect for pregnant women. Potatoes and related veggies are known to ease morning sickness symptoms. Additionally, sweet potatoes are chock full of potassium; an important mineral for pregnant women. Potassium helps your body maintain correct fluid and electrolyte balance. It also helps your muscles contract, keeps your blood pressure stable and allows your body to release the right amount of energy from protein, fat and carbs. In addition, potassium also helps reduce swelling and leg cramps – both typical problems for many pregnant women.

Image ©gndesign via sxc.

Remember Organic Red Produce

Pregnant women should have at least 85mg of vitamin C daily. Vitamin C helps to strengthen your body’s membranes, including the amniotic membranes. Later on, having strong amniotic membranes means you’re more likely to avoid preterm labor. You don’t have to OD on oranges to get vitamin C either. Vitamin C is found in all sorts of foods, but if you need an easy way to remember which foods in particular are vitamin C-rich, go with red produce. Most red produce contains higher than average amounts of vitamin C, so stock up on delicious red strawberries, red bell peppers, ruby red and dark red citrus fruits, tomatoes and other red produce delights.

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Organic Whole Grains

Pregnancy is not the time for white, flavorless bread, especially if you’re experiencing morning sickness. Women with morning sickness should concentrate on the least offensive, most nutritious foods possible. Basically, if you can’t keep much food down, it makes sense to make every bite count, and white processed grains don’t count for much. An added benefit of eating whole grains is folic acid. Folic acid helps prevent birth defects and is available in whole grain food sources like fortified grains, pastas and breakfast cereals. The following whole grains aren’t too offensive if you have morning sickness, and pack a healthy punch, even in small amounts.

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Organic Spinach

Iron is vital for a healthy pregnancy but it’s hard for most women to get enough. In fact, iron-deficiency anemia affects about 20% of all pregnant women. Luckily, fresh organic spinach makes it easy to sneak in extra iron. Spinach is jam-packed with iron, but is also rich in calcium, folate, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin A. You can add spinach to spaghetti sauce, smoothies, homemade soup, salad or any casserole you choose. Spinach goes with so many things. My favorite spinach dish is Black Bean Chilaquile – everyone I’ve ever met loves it and you can add extra spinach to it, plus make it vegan or low-fat if you choose. You can also try a spinach frittata, quick spinach and tomato pasta, or easy sauteed spinach. That said, even though spinach is a top source of iron your body can’t absorb all of the iron it provides. So you’ll still need iron from other sources like beans, and when paired with a vitamin C source such as tomatoes, you’ll be able to get even more of the iron benefits.

Image © 2011 Organic Valley

Organic Milk

Studies show that mamas who get lots of calcium during pregnancy have significantly higher bone density than mamas who miss out on their daily calcium requirements. Pregnant women need about 2,000 mg of calcium per day. A glass of 1% or fat free organic milk  has around 300 mg of calcium – just make sure you’re drinking real organic milk. A report by The Cornucopia Institute, the Dairy Report and Scorecard,  shows that some organic milk companies have inadequate organic policies in place. Check out the dairy rating report to find out which organic dairy companies have the best (and worst) organic practices. For example, Organic Valley milk (shown above) gets an excellent score while Horizon Organic Dairy gets a terrible score for using factory farm-like practices.

Milk offers a super easy calcium fix, but if you hate the taste of milk or if you’re lactose intolerant or vegan there are plenty of other calcium rich food options to choose from.

Image ©Flickr user WordRidden

Six + Organic Veggies & Fruits Per Day!

When you’re pregnant, you need lots of veggies and fruits each day. Aim for six + servings, but more won’t hurt you. Fresh organic produce offers untold nutrients for you and your growing baby, can ward off upper respiratory tract infections, plus produce fills you up, without packing on too many excess calories (you only need about 300 extra calories a day while pregnant). If you’re having trouble fitting in veggie and fruit servings, try adding extra produce to the foods you already eat. Some ideas:

  • Salsa with whole grain crackers.
  • Baked potatoes covered with other steamed veggies and some shredded cheese.
  • Fun new creations, like rainbow salad.
  • Make veggie or fruit ice pops.
  • Add more veggies to soups or sauces, like a tomato-based spaghetti sauce.
  • Keep tempting produce washed, cut and ready to munch, in small bowls in the fridge, for example, cold sweet peas, tangerine slices, raspberries or fresh green beans.
  • Make veggie burritos on whole grain tortillas packed with beans, brown rice and lots of veggies –  sliced bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms and salsa.

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