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Healthiest Pregnancy Foods to Eat Throughout Pregnancy

Learn about some of the healthiest pregnancy foods to fuel your hungry body during gestation for optimal health for both you and baby.

Some of the healthiest pregnancy foods are shown in a breakfast photo.

DISCLAIMER: I am not providing medical advice. The information listed below is strictly for informational purposes. No material on this site is intended to be substituted for medical advice. Consult a registered dietician or physician for nutrition advice catered to your individual needs. 

Today I want to discuss the importance of healthy eating during pregnancy. Now, although I am not a registered dietician, I have learned quite a bit about nutrition over the last few years. As someone with a history of disordered eating, I’ve spent the last few years really learning the importance of good nutrition, opposed to dieting or restrictive eating habits. 

I know food can be a touchy subject for some (no, I am not trying to nag you), but consuming healthy food is important, whether pregnant or not. That being said, pregnancy can actually be a great motivator to start eating more nutritious foods. There is even some evidence that suggests that what a woman eats during pregnancy can affect her baby’s food preferences/choices later in life.

Plus, I think we can all use some sensible, gentle nutrition advice once in a while. With all the latest fads and dieting trends–and not being able to keep up with all the latest nutrition research–it can be so confusing. 

At the heart of eating, I truly believe that all foods fit into our diet and I do not believe in demonizing sugar or all processed foods. 

But in general, the best advice you can get nutritionally, that is pretty universal, is to eat as many whole foods as possible. That doesn’t mean no sugar or convenience foods. It just means to focus on more nutrient dense foods, first and foremost. This is an easy rule to apply to eating, in my experience. 

Learn how to cook. Discover the art of seasoning vegetables (so you’ll actually enjoy eating them!). Learn the importance of eating enough food. Incorporate lots of healthy fats and protein into the diet. Drink lots of water. But also, enjoy your favorite chocolate (or Cheez-Its, in my case). 

As a reminder, everyone has to eat according to their own preferences and tastes. These are merely some suggestions of additions into your diet. After all, we have to enjoy something in order to make it a habit or it just won’t stick. 

Don’t worry about replacing all of your favorite foods with this list here (which isn’t exhaustive, by the way). That isn’t what I’m suggesting you do. Just try to add some of these into your normal diet and see the difference in how it makes you feel during pregnancy.

Here are some of the top healthiest pregnancy foods that I have been incorporating into my diet since I became pregnant (and many of them long before pregnancy, just because I enjoy them and they’re good for me). 

A tortilla is loaded with veggies, nuts, and other protein for one of the healthiest pregnancy foods.

The Healthiest Pregnancy Foods

1. Eggs

Eggs make the top of the healthiest pregnancy foods list. They are so easy to incorporate into breakfasts and snacks. Easy and quick to scramble or hard boil, I absolutely love the nutrition profile and flavor of eggs. They are so filling, and full of protein and healthy fats. The yolk is the most important part too, so don’t leave these out! Yolks contain high choline content, which is a very important nutrient for brain development in a growing baby. Eggs also have iron and other minerals in them which are so important for mamas during pregnancy.

2. Broccoli and dark, leafy greens 

I love me some green foods. I enjoy roasted broccoli (roasted in olive oil and salt) by itself or mixed with other veggies as a dinner side. It is full of fiber (one of the most important nutrients for a healthy body) and so flavorful once you learn how to cook it. 

Dark leafy greens are especially good for a growing baby, too, because they contain vitamins A, C, and K, along with a healthy source of plant-based iron and other minerals. I love to throw some spinach into my smoothies, on top of pizzas, or in pasta dishes. Even if you don’t like greens, there are so many easy ways to sneak them into dishes.

Spinach and onions are sautéed in a cast iron skillet for adding to a quiche recipe.

3. Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are also some of the healthiest pregnancy foods. Salty and flavorful with a perfect crunch, they are great for snacking, adding to yogurt, granola, breads, and more. Nuts and seeds contain lots of healthy fats which women in general need more of for hormone support for high fertility–and especially during pregnancy to support the growing baby. 

Nuts and seeds contain Vitamin E (which is an antioxidant and a great anti-inflammatory) that benefit mother and baby by strengthening the immune system, maintaining healthy eyes and skin, and supporting red blood cells. They also have a good source of protein and some fiber. Seeds in particular have high amounts of iron and certain nuts like walnuts are excellent for heart health. Eat these several times a week during pregnancy for optimal health. (Yes, this includes nut and seed butters, too!)

4. Whole grains 

Carbohydrates get such a bad reputation. But we aren’t talking about ultra-processed, high-sugar cereals and breads over here. Breads, pastas, and cereals made with wholesome grains that haven’t been stripped of nutrients are excellent for health. Whole grains give our bodies slow-digesting carbs that aid in stabilizing energy levels, keep us full, and are the preferred source of energy in the body. Whole grains also contain a decent amount of both protein and fiber which keep us full for longer. They also are full of iron and B vitamins (which minimize birth defects) and are low in sugar.

Some of my favorite whole grains include oats, whole grain bread, and corn. Yes, even popcorn counts–just try to stick to healthy oils and minimal ingredients added in. 

A homemade granola bark recipe makes the list for healthiest pregnancy foods.

5. Full fat yogurt, cheese, and milk

I can just see the so-called “almond moms” having a fit about eating full-fat dairy. But there is a lot of recent evidence that supports eating full-fat dairy. In fact, by many researchers, heart and cancer doctors, and dieticians it is encouraged. Full-fat dairy is very satiating, and there is little research today that supports that saturated fat from full-fat dairy is bad. In fact, saturated fat has no current link to elevated cholesterol levels, heart disease, obesity, or death. 

Plus, full fat dairy just tastes better. You may think no one can tell you used low fat everything in a dish, but believe me they can. It’s just not the same. I will gladly take a full-fat yogurt low in sugar over those low fat varieties with 20+ ingredients and chock full of sugar any day.

Sources of fat from whole foods like milk, cheese, and yogurt, enjoyed in moderation, are not a cause for concern. Eating these whole food sources of fat is not the same as deep frying everything in hydrogenated oils. The source matters.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are some benefits of full fat dairy: Fats allow for better nutrient absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, and E; they’re high in calcium; and they’re also high in protein. Yogurt in particular is excellent since it contains probiotics. Probiotics (those healthy bacteria) help us keep a healthy digestive system which is a huge part of the immune system and very important in pregnancy.

A salad has a homemade greek yogurt dressing made for it on the side.

6. Extra virgin olive oil (and other healthy fats like olives, avocados, and real, grass-fed butter)

Here we are again, talking about healthy fats. But hear me out: They are essential for brain health and heart health, aid in the absorption of other essential nutrients, and help prevent many diseases and cancers. Extra virgin olive oil in particular is full of antioxidants that help prevent cancers, diabetes, and they are anti-inflammatory. It also provides a great dose of Vitamin E and Vitamin K. 

Olives and avocados are also excellent sources of healthy plant-based fats. I lumped them into this category because of that. In addition to the previously stated benefits, avocados also have lots of fiber for healthy digestion (which prevents constipation in pregnancy) and are high in monounsaturated fats, with a low glycemic level. This means it won’t spike your blood sugar. That makes it a great addition to your diet especially if you have gestational diabetes. Avocados also have lots of different vitamins and minerals which your growing body and baby will appreciate very much. 

Grass-fed butter feels controversial to some. We’ve been led most of our lives to believe that butter is bad. Real, grass-fed butter (that contains only cream and salt) is high in antioxidants and Vitamins A and K in particular. It’s also very satiating, and when paired with vegetables it makes those nutrients much more absorbable by the body. Furthermore, it’s also rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Eating real, grass-fed butter in moderation is not a bad thing at all.

A healthy breakfast spread consists of avocado toast on whole grain bread, eggs, and fruit.

7. Dried fruit

Dried fruit is excellent during pregnancy due to its concentrated nutrients. This is just one reason they are one of the healthiest pregnancy foods. Dried fruits contain higher levels of vitamins and minerals like iron and potassium, and they still have fiber and act as slow-digesting carbs. Dried fruits are great for snacking and for some quick energy when you need a boost. They are great paired with some cheese, yogurt, or nuts for a balanced, healthy protein-fat-carb combo. They also contain lots of polyphenols (antioxidants) that will boost your health along with your baby’s.

8. Berries

I eat berries almost every single day. They are just so delicious. Berries pack quite the punch in nutrients, too. They contain lots of fiber and antioxidants (flavonoids) and are delicious eaten plain, in granola or yogurt, or in smoothies. With lots of vitamins C and K, potassium, and magnesium, they are the perfect sweet addition to any diet. (They are generally lower in natural sugars compared to some other fruits, too!) There is such a wide variety in flavors, so don’t be afraid to try some new berries you don’t traditionally eat. You may just end up loving them!

A woman holds berries growing from a blackberry bush.

9. Beans

Beans are one of the healthiest pregnancy foods. They are rich in folate and B vitamins that are essential for baby’s nervous system early in pregnancy. Throughout pregnancy beans offer lots of protein, iron, fiber, and other needed minerals to support your health. Add them to Mexican dishes, soups, or salads, or buy the crunchy kind for snacking on whenever you please. 

10. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are full of Vitamin A (essential for healthy bone, eye, skin, and lung development), have lots of fiber, and contain many other essential vitamins and minerals. That makes sweet potatoes one of the healthiest pregnancy foods. 

Sweet potatoes are great oven roasted in a little olive oil and sea salt and eaten as “fries,” or cut in half and roasted as a big, baked sweet potato. The natural sweetness pairs well with herbs and other savory flavors (and even goes well in some desserts too).

Sweet potatoes are shown as part of a list of healthiest pregnancy foods to eat. It has peanut butter and blueberries on it.

Other honorable mentions | healthiest pregnancy foods

11. Salmon

Although I don’t eat salmon very often myself, this is definitely one of the healthiest pregnancy foods. Fish in general does need to be limited (12 oz. per week) in pregnancy. Doctors and dieticians also recommend that women stick to low mercury fish (luckily salmon is one of them). However, salmon has so many benefits to it that if you love eating it, it would be silly to stop once you become pregnant. 

Salmon is full of healthy fats and very high in protein as well. It also has lots of antioxidants: selenium, zinc, and B vitamins. These are all very important for brain development in a growing baby. 

Salmon, mashed potatoes, and green beans are decorated on a plate.

12. Coffee

Caffeine can be a controversial topic in pregnancy, but it’s generally accepted that small amounts (at least on occasion) are perfectly fine. I’m not a big advocate for caffeine in general because it personally makes me feel jittery at times. And if I feel that way, I can’t imagine the effects it would have on my little one growing inside of me. Caffeine does cross the placenta, which is why it should be limited. But I will say that if you’re already a coffee drinker, a cup a day is usually safe (just drink it with water to stay hydrated, plus some food to reduce jittery nerves). 

Coffee itself is full of antioxidants and has been shown to stabilize and lower blood sugar levels. It can even help prevent diabetes in the long run (though I’m not sure on its prevention of gestational diabetes). As long as you aren’t adding tons of sugar to it, it’s probably safe to keep this morning habit as long as you drink it responsibly. 

For me, not drinking it every single day and making it on the weaker side has made me feel more comfortable with the caffeine content. This may seem like overkill, but it’s what I feel comfortable with since there is still some research that shows caffeine can have some effect on development (yes, even in small doses). Do what’s best for you and according to your provider. Like many things, it has both risks and benefits.

13. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate also has caffeine content (which many people probably didn’t realize), so it’s best to somewhat limit it. But true dark chocolate is very healthy. Dark chocolate with 70%+ cacao content is low in sugar, high in healthy fats, high in iron and magnesium, and full of fiber. It is satiating and pairs well with fruit, nuts, or even cheese. With its antioxidant content, it would be smart to include this in your diet… besides, it is just delicious!

Dark chocolate is chopped as an example of one of the healthiest pregnancy foods.

Healthy Recipes You’ll Love

Greek Yogurt Caesar Dressing

Spinach Mozzarella Crustless Quiche  

6 Easy Ways to Incorporate More Veggies into Meals

Refined Sugar Free Hot Chocolate

No-Bake Chocolate Chip Granola Bark

How to Roast Butternut Squash  

Easy Smoothie Recipes 3 Ways

Healthy Tofu Fried Rice  

Chocolate Baked Oats

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