What to eat when you are pregnant
Florian Walter, MD, is a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist at Banner Estrella Medical Center.
Question: I’m pregnant and my friends have told me I can’t eat fish. Is that true? Are there other foods I should eat instead?
Answer: There are many “superfoods” for pregnant women and fish is one of them, so don’t listen to your friends. Fish meat provides omega-3 fatty acids, a valuable tool in your baby’s neurological growth and one researchers have shown has direct correlation to brain development and IQ.
In the past, pregnant women were cautioned against fish because some fish can contain methyl mercuries, which are dangerous. However, if you know which fish are “good fish,” you should have no problem including fish as part of your pregnancy diet.
When thinking of fish, look to fish at the bottom of the food chain, such as salmon, trout, anchovies or smelt. Other fish, such as tilapia, flounder or shellfish are harmless but also contain much less Omega-3, which is what makes eating fish so important. Stay away from tuna, shark or swordfish—or fish at the top of the food chain. They are guaranteed to have higher levels of mercury.
Other foods that help support healthy child development include beans, which are a great source of protein, iron and calcium; broccoli, which includes folate and potassium for fluid balance and help with blood pressure; berries which contain vitamin C, folate and carbohydrates naturally; and, of course, milk for calcium and bone growth.
I also encourage my patients to look for a prenatal vitamin that contains DHA, which is a synthetic form of omega-3 fatty acids. There also commercially available OTC fish oil pills that contain purified omega-3.
As with everything in life, moderation is important but looking for foods that are rich in benefits will help not only your baby, but also you.