As a mother, it’s never too early to start thinking about your baby’s brain and what you can do to promote healthy development. Maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet throughout pregnancy is one of the best ways you can promote the proper growth and development of your baby. This is especially true with regards to their brain development. Some of the nutrients that are essential to the proper growth and development of your baby’s brain include folate, choline, iron, plenty of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and more.
There are many foods you can eat during pregnancy that include these nutrients. Think foods that are scientifically proven to help boost brain development and improve your baby’s memory and learning capacity. Sign us up, right?! As moms, all we really want is to know that we’re giving our little ones the best start in life possible. So with that being said, we’ve created a list of different foods that pregnant women can eat to support fetal brain development. All in an effort to give our baby the happiest and healthiest start possible!
Pregnancy Food List For Baby Brain Development
Leafy greens like spinach, asparagus, kale, and turnip greens are an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals. They all pack a major punch and promote healthy fetal brain development. Leafy greens are a great source of folate. Folate contributes directly to the development of the baby’s brain and spinal cord.
Folate has also been proven to help prevent brain and spine-related birth defects, also known as neural tube defects, like anencephaly and spina bifida. In addition to folate, leafy greens are also rich in antioxidants, which are both good for mom’s health and help to promote the healthy growth and development of the baby’s brain.
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are rich sources of healthy fats, antioxidants, protein, folate, and zinc. Plus, they’re super easy to add to any meal and they’re one of many healthy snack ideas for pregnant women. Zinc is used by the mother and baby to create new cells and is involved in DNA synthesis. It’s an essential building block of the baby’s brain and is also known for supporting both the mother and baby’s immune system.
Eating high-quality seafood, like tuna and salmon, helps to promote the baby’s brain development big time. They are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. According to research, omega-3 fatty acids are an essential building block of the baby’s brain and eyes. Omega-3 fatty acids are absolutely necessary for the proper growth and development of your baby’s brain, retinas, nerves, and more.
While high-quality fish is recommended during pregnancy, it’s important to remember to focus on low-mercury seafood choices during pregnancy. For more information about consuming seafood during pregnancy, you can check out our blog about safe seafood during pregnancy.
Legumes contain many vitamins and minerals that support healthy fetal brain development. Plus, they’re some of the easiest foods to work into any recipe. Legumes like lima beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas, and black-eyed peas contain folate, fiber, protein, and iron. According to the Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Nutritional Status During Pregnancy and Lactation, iron is essential to the healthy growth and development of the baby and the function of your placenta. Adequate iron intake can also help prevent iron deficiency or anemia during pregnancy. Iron deficiency or anemia could increase the risk for complications during and after delivery, such as preterm birth or postpartum depression.
Berries like blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are excellent sources of many essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. We LOVE berries for pregnant women for this reason. Plus, they’re great for combatting sweet cravings. Berries contain folate, fiber, vitamin C, and most importantly, they contain tons of antioxidants. Antioxidants help to prevent brain tissue damage, promote new tissue growth, and may even reduce the risk for childhood behavioral problems. Antioxidants can also help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the mother’s body throughout pregnancy.
And last, but definitely not least, eggs are an important food to support the development of a baby’s brain. Eggs are one of the best sources of choline. In fact, two large eggs provide more than half the daily recommended amount of choline for pregnant women. According to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data, 90% of children, pregnant women, and adults aren’t getting enough choline. The National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends at least 450 mg per day of choline during pregnancy.
Choline helps with the baby’s brain development and is specifically involved in creating the memory portion of the brain. Like folate, it also helps to prevent neural tube defects and has been compared to folate in its importance during pregnancy. Eggs are also a good source of protein and other nutrients.
What are your thoughts on this food list to support baby’s brain development?
Would you add anything to the list? These are our top six foods we recommend during pregnancy to support your baby’s brain development. Research has proven that consuming the above foods during pregnancy can have a positive effect on your child’s learning, memory, and cognitive functioning throughout childhood and possibly, their entire life. For some inspiration on how to add these foods to your diet, check out these healthy pregnancy lunch ideas for work or these healthy breakfast ideas for pregnant women…both include a variety of meals that feature some of the foods that promote healthy fetal brain development.
And, as always, don’t forget to join The Prenatal Nutrition Library and check out our app too; available in both the App Store and Google Play Store. You can search any topic instead of googling it and ask questions to a pregnancy-registered dietitian!