Pregnancy is a time of great emphasis and concern for women about their health and the health of their unborn child. Often nutrition and other lifestyle decisions take “center stage”. As such, women often wonder how do I eat right? How do I make smart food choices? Where do I find the best produce? How much will it cost? Will it taste good? Can I maintain these habits throughout pregnancy and beyond?
To answer the question, “How many fruit and vegetable servings are needed per day during pregnancy?”, consider the following simple advice: Do what comes natural.
As a pregnant woman, you’re more likely to be hungry. Eat small snacks of fruit and vegetables several times per day to avoid getting hungry and consuming a lot at one time. Choose fruits and vegetables that are in season avoiding canned or pre-sweetened options. By eating often and in season, less effort is needed to plan and maintain a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables. When choosing fruits and vegetables, mix-it-up by choosing brightly colored options in any color of the rainbow to get a range of tastes and nutrients. Follow a calendar and choose a fruit and vegetable of the month as a focus and explore dishes with your chosen produce.
Experts recommend eating 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ – 3 cups of vegetables a day. One cup is the same as one measuring cup in recipes. A cup of vegetables can be obtained from raw or cooked vegetables or 100% vegetable juice or 2 cups of raw leafy greens. Likewise, one cup of fruits can easily be consumed raw, cooked, as 100% fruit juice or ½ dried fruit.
Fruit and vegetable consumption is essential to a healthy diet given their nutrient dense nature. They are natural sources of energy, containing vitamins, minerals and fiber. Although vitamin supplements are also often recommended in pregnancy, they are no substitute to intake of fruits and vegetables. Similarly, although fruit and vegetable consumption is essential, a healthy diet is not complete without protein, carbohydrates and small amounts of fat. Likewise, a healthy pregnancy should also include exercise, sleep and prenatal care.
- CDC National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Fruit and Vegetable Benefits. http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/benefits/index.html# accessed July 17, 2012.
- United States Department of Agriculture. ChooseMyPlate. Health and Nutritional Information for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/pregnancy-breastfeeding/making-healthy-food-choices.html accessed July 17, 2012.