Top Nutrient-Rich Foods Recommended by the NHS for Pregnant Women

Posted on

Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods is vital for pregnant women in order to support their health and the development of their baby. A nutrient rich diet will improve fetal development, prevent birth defects, aid lactation and boost the mother and baby's immune system. 

Here are some nutrient-rich food groups and examples to incorporate into your diet recommended by the NHS:

1. Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are super important for pregnant women as they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre to improve fetal development and aid digestion.

  • Recommendations: Aim for at least five portions a day. Include a variety of colours to ensure a range of nutrients.

2. Starchy Foods:

Starchy foods are a great source of energy for pregnant women whilst also providing benefits of increased fibre, and B vitamins.

  • Sources: Potatoes, sweet potato, rice, pasta, corn, quinoa, legumes (such as lentils and chickpeas)
  • Recommendations: Include wholegrain options into your diet like wholemeal bread, brown rice, and wholegrain pasta.

3. Protein-Rich Foods

Protein-rich foods are essential for the growth and repair of tissues for the baby and mother during pregnancy.

  • Sources: Lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, pulses, and nuts.
  • Specific Recommendation: Eat two portions of fish a week, including one portion of oily fish (such as salmon or mackerel). However, when you're pregnant, you should avoid having more than 2 portions of oily fish a week, such as salmon, trout, mackerel and herring, because it can contain pollutants. 
  • Zita West suggests taking a Vital DHA supplement which is a pure form of Omega 3, so you can be sure you’re getting omegas without worry of pollutants. 

4. Dairy and Alternatives

Dairy products provide calcium and other nutrients for bone health, essential for fetal development.

  • Sources: Milk, cheese, yoghurt, butter, cream, cottage cheese, kefir 
  • Recommendations: we recommend taking a moderate intake of dairy products, opting for a range of full fat, low fat or sugar options. 

5. Iron-Rich Foods

Iron-rich foods prevent anaemia and support the baby's development.

  • Sources: Red meat, poultry, fish, leafy green vegetables, and fortified cereals.
  • Tip: Vitamin C helps with iron absorption, so pair iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods like oranges and peppers.

6. Folate (Folic Acid)

Folate-rich foods are crucial for the development of the baby's neural tube.

  • Sources: Leafy green vegetables, fortified cereals, and legumes.
  • Supplement: The NHS recommends that pregnant women take a folic acid supplement. Zita West offers a Folate supplement (which is the more bioavailable form) during pregnancy to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in the developing foetus.

7. Vitamin D

Alongside calcium, vitamin D is also very important for bone health.

  • Sources: Sunlight, oily fish, eggs, and fortified foods.
  • ⁠⁠Most people in the uk are vitamin D deficient as there are generally low levels of sunlight in the UK, therefore the NHS recommend taking a supplement. 
  • Supplement: Zita recommends a folate & vitamin D supplement for  pregnancy guided by the NHS information.  

    8. Healthy Fats

    Healthy fats are very important for fetal growth as they support the baby's brain and eye development.

    • Sources: Avocados, nuts, seeds, and oily fish.

    9. Hydration

    Sufficient hydration is essential for overall health and maintaining amniotic fluid levels.

    • Recommendations: Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks.

    Food to Avoid whist Pregnant: 

    • Avoid: Certain foods such as unpasteurised dairy products, raw or undercooked eggs, raw or undercooked meat, certain fish high in mercury, and liver products high in vitamin A.
    • Balanced Diet: Focus on a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods to ensure a broad spectrum of nutrients, including all the food groups mentioned above.

    For more detailed information, refer to the NHS guidelines for eating well in pregnancy and consult with a healthcare provider to tailor dietary needs to individual health requirements.

    Further reading

    Shopping Cart

    Your shopping cart is empty

    Continue shopping
    Subtotal: £0.00
    View basket