A valuable source of fuel and essential for the growth of body cells, proteins have an important role to play in the formation of blood cells and prevention of genetic disorders. An average intake of 70 grams to 100 grams of protein is recommended per day. This article focuses on the protein in your pregnancy diet and the different sources that it can be found in.
Sources Of Protein In Your Pregnancy Diet
Protein tends to be written off in the same vein as fat. While weight gain is a concern during pregnancy, it is important to eat the right kind of food. In this respect, a regular intake of fish, shrimp, lobster and crab will ensure that you get your daily protein requirement.
Fish are lower in calories than regular meat and contain adequate quantities of protein. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids that help develop the nervous system, form the brain and reduce the risks associated with preterm labor and preeclampsia. You can safely eat up to 12 ounces of fish every week. It is recommended that pregnant women eat whitefish and restrict or avoid entirely oily fish as they contain unsafe amounts of contaminants.
This may come as a surprise since most pregnant women are warned off red meat during pregnancy but yes, red meat in small quantities is very rich in protein and not just fat. It is also a source of iron and zinc. Beef, pork, mutton, veal can provide part of the protein in your pregnancy diet provided you restrict the portions and choose the leanest cuts. Braise, roast or grill red meat since these are healthy methods of cooking red meat. Avoid processed foods such as sausages, ham, bologna, bacon and other bi-products that have a high fat content.
Beans, Nuts And Legumes
Protein is present in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods. Pumpkin seeds, almonds, pistachio, flax seeds, hazelnuts, soy beans, mungo beans, garbanzo and lentils are all excellent low fat sources of protein as well as a host of other nutrients that are vital to the development of cells and bodily functions.
Eating soy beans or soy meal can also add to the protein in your pregnancy diet in small quantities. Avoid eating peanuts or peanut based products if you are prone to allergies. Otherwise, peanuts can be consumed as they are a cholesterol free source of protein and folate.
Vegans can look for protein in dairy foods during their pregnancy. Healthy portions of cottage cheese, buttermilk, low fat milk, natural cheese, yogurt and even small helpings of ice cream can add to your recommended dietary allowance of protein.
Buttermilk and low fat milk have less than 10 grams of protein while yogurt and cottage cheese average around 15 grams and 30 grams respectively. Natural cheese like emmental, cheddar, Monterey and mozzarella have high levels of protein. You can also eat an egg a day during your pregnancy which contributes 6 grams to your protein intake.
Lean meat like turkey, chicken and quail are good sources of protein. Poultry in general have low levels of saturated and unsaturated fat therefore you can safely include this in your pregnancy diet without risking weight gain. They also contain all the B vitamins including selenium and thiamine thereby providing other nutritional requirements for the fetus’ growth and development. Pregnant women should avoid eating chicken with the skin on as it contains a great deal of fat.