Iron Rich Foods For Your Pregnancy
Due to the growing size of the fetus during the last half of a pregnancy, an expectant mother’s body needs to produce a significantly larger number of red blood cells – they carry oxygen throughout both the mother’s body and the fetus’ – than normal.
Red blood cells have a dense core of iron at their center so a lot of iron is needed to produce them. Otherwise, anemia can occur – an undesirable result.
For this reason, the diet should be one foremost concern of a newly expectant mother. In particular, obtaining and eating the right iron-rich foods is quite important for maintaining the health of both the mother and the baby. Here are some of the more notable – and tastier! – options available:
According to conventional wisdom, spinach is the quintessential “go to” food for anyone trying to add iron to their diet. Unfortunately, the iron contained in this green is of the “non-heme” variety and therefore not as absorbable as the “heme” ones found in the foods on the rest of this list. So, if you do not like spinach, do not eat it. Try some of the other tastier choices noted below.
While red meats, in general, have a fair amount of iron in them, liver and other organ meats – specifically kidneys, brain and heart – have a much higher amount per ounce. Specifically, a 3.5 ounce serving of liver – not very much really – will provide you with over one-third of the iron you would normally need in a day if you were not pregnant.
While all shellfish – we cannot stop eating lobster and shrimp! – have high iron content, it is clams, oysters and mussels that are really the best sources. For instance, a 3.5-ounce serving of oysters can contain as much as 28 mg of iron, which is one and a half times the RDA.
Legumes – peas, beans, chickpeas and even tofu – are always an excellent source of iron and other nutrients. A single cooked cup of any of these vegetables will provide with almost a half day’s worth of iron. They are also a great way to diminish a healthy appetite without gaining an inordinate amount of weight.
To paraphrase the old saying, expectant women do not live by meat and beans alone. Adding a single one-ounce square of dark chocolate contains almost 20 percent of the recommended daily allowance of iron. So splurge and eat one for you and one for the baby.
Similarly, pumpkin seeds are an easily transportable snack that is a great alternative to eating just beans and meat. A one-ounce serving of pumpkin seeds contains 23 percent of the RDA of iron as well as large amounts of other necessary nutrients such as magnesium.
Cook in Cast Iron Pans
While this is not technically a “food” cooking in a cast iron skillet or pot can add significant amounts of iron to a recipe. It is a great way to add iron to many dishes that do not usually have a lot of iron. In particular, spaghetti sauce – because of the long cooking time and the repeated stirring – can gain as much as ten times the usual amount of iron.
Expectant mothers looking for more detailed information on iron-rich foods and other dietary necessities needed during their pregnancy should visit us online at YourFirstLook.org.