A nutritious diet plays an essential role in a person's overall health, helping the body to function effectively and reducing the risk of some diseases.
Most people are aware that a healthful diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthful fats. However, they may not realize that specific fruits are particularly beneficial during pregnancy.
In this article, we explain why it is important to eat fruit during pregnancy. We also cover which fruits are best to eat during this time, and which types of fruit pregnant women may wish to avoid.
What are the benefits of eating fruit during pregnancy?
Fruits provide vitamins and nutrients that are essential during pregnancy.
Eating a healthful, varied diet is particularly important during pregnancy as the right nutrients can help the fetus to develop and grow as it should.
In addition to supporting the growing baby, an increased intake of vitamins and minerals can help a pregnant woman keep her own body in the best condition possible.
Eating plenty of fresh fruit during pregnancy can help to ensure that both the woman and baby remain healthy. Fresh fruit contains lots of essential vitamins and nutrients and is a good source of fiber too.
The best fruits to eat during pregnancy
Snacking on fruit can be a great way to boost vitamin intake in addition to curbing sugar cravings.
Below, we list 12 of the best fruits to include in a healthful pregnancy diet.
All of these nutrients help with the baby's development and growth. Iron can prevent anemia and calcium helps bones and teeth grow strong.
Oranges are an excellent source of:
- vitamin C
Oranges are great for keeping a person hydrated and healthy. Vitamin C can help prevent cell damage and assist with iron absorption.
Folate can help prevent neural tube defects, which can cause brain and spinal cord abnormalities in a baby. Neural tube defects can cause conditions such as spina bifida, where the spinal cord does not develop properly, and anencephaly, in which a large part of the brain and skull is missing.
Mangoes are rich in vitamins A and C.
One cup of chopped mango provides 100 percent of a person's recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C and more than a third of their RDA of vitamin A.
A baby born with vitamin A deficiency may have lower immunity and a higher risk of postnatal complications, such as respiratory infections.
Pears provide lots of the following nutrients:
Getting plenty of fiber in a pregnancy diet can help ease constipation, a common pregnancy symptom.
Potassium can benefit heart health for both the woman and baby. It also stimulates cell regeneration.
Pomegranates can provide pregnant women with plenty of:
- vitamin K
Nutrient-dense pomegranates are also a good source of energy, and their high iron content helps prevent iron-deficiency.
Vitamin K is also essential for maintaining healthy bones.
Research suggests that drinking pomegranate juice may help to decrease the risk of injury to the placenta.
Avocados are an excellent source of:
- vitamins C, E, and K
- monounsaturated fatty acids
- B vitamins
Avocados contain healthful fats that provide energy and help to prevent neural tube defects. They also boost the cells responsible for building the skin and brain tissues of the developing baby.
The potassium in avocados can provide relief from leg cramps, another symptom that is common during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester.
Guava contains vitamin E and folate, making it an ideal fruit to eat during pregnancy.
Guava is an excellent choice of fruit for people wanting more of the following nutrients:
- vitamins C and E
Guava contains a varied combination of nutrients, making it ideal for pregnant women. Eating guava during pregnancy can help to relax muscles, aid digestion, and reduce constipation.
Bananas contain high levels of:
- vitamin C
- vitamin B-6
The high fiber content of bananas can help with pregnancy-related constipation, and there is some evidence to suggest that vitamin B-6 can help relieve nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy.
Eating plenty of grapes can boost people's intake of:
- vitamins C and K
- organic acids
The nutrients in grapes can help to aid the biological changes that occur during pregnancy.
They contain immune-boosting antioxidants, such as flavonol, tannin, linalool, anthocyanins, and geraniol, which also help prevent infections.
Berries are a good source of:
- vitamin C
- healthy carbohydrates
Berries also contain lots of water, so they are an excellent source of hydration. Vitamin C helps with iron absorption and boosts the body's immune system.
Apples are packed with nutrients to help a growing fetus, including:
- vitamins A and C
12. Dried Fruit
The following nutrients occur in dried fruit:
- vitamins and minerals
Dried fruit contains all the same nutrients as fresh fruit. Therefore, pregnant women can get their RDA of vitamins and minerals by eating portions of dried fruits that are smaller than the equivalent amount of fresh fruits.
However, it is important to remember that dried fruit can be high in sugar and does not contain the water content that fresh fruit does. This means that it does not aid digestion. Pregnant women should only eat dried fruits in moderation and should avoid candied fruits altogether.
It is best to eat dried fruits in addition to fresh fruits, rather than instead of them.
How much fruit should someone eat during pregnancy?
The advice for pregnant women is to eat at least five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables each day and to vary these as much as possible. Fruit can be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried.
As a general rule, a serving of fruit is:
- one piece of fruit, for fruits that are larger than the size of a tennis ball
- one cup of chopped fruit
Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables during pregnancy provides pregnant women with adequate nutrition to support their developing baby. It should also minimize the risk of certain diseases and defects and help to nourish the woman's body.
Are there any fruits a person should avoid during pregnancy?
Fruit juice has a high sugar content.
There is no particular fruit that pregnant women should avoid. However, it is essential for women to be aware of portion size. Some fruits have a high sugar content, and certain forms of fruit, such as juices and dried fruits, are often significantly higher in sugar and calories than their fresh counterparts.
Buying organic fruit will ensure that it has not come into contact with fertilizers and pesticides that could damage its quality. However, if organic fruit is not an option, non-organic fruit is still better than eliminating fruit from the diet altogether.
It is important to remove any pesticides and bacteria that might be present on fruit by washing it thoroughly before eating it. People should take other safety precautions by:
- removing areas of bruised fruit, which are more likely to contain bacteria
- storing fruit in a separate area of the fridge to any raw meat products
- avoiding precut melons
- only drinking pasteurized or boiled fruit juice
Fruit is an excellent source of nutrients that are essential during pregnancy. Fruits can provide vitamins, folate, fiber, and more, which all help to keep the woman and baby healthy. These nutrients can also help to relieve some of the common symptoms of pregnancy.
Pregnant women should aim to consume at least five different portions of fruit and vegetables each day. The 12 fruits listed in this article are particularly good choices during pregnancy. Pregnant women should also limit their intake of dried fruits and fruit juices as these can be high in sugar and calories than fresh types.