Eating fruit during pregnancy isn’t just a good way to stay healthy, it may even help your baby be smarter. By Kim Bell
The health benefits of fruit are numerous: rich in antioxidants and heart-healthy nutrients. Studies out of the University of Alberta in the USA, and published in the journal EBioMedicine, has found that women who ate more fruit during pregnancy, had babies that performed better on cognitive tests at 12 months.
One of the lead authors, Dr Plush Mandhane, noted: “More was better. Even by eating a bit more fruit during pregnancy, we showed an increased the benefit.” When taking into account those factors that would normally affect a child’s learning ability, fruit still came out as the strongest predictor of a higher score on the IQ scale. There is a threshold, however, as the maximum benefit comes from eating around five to six servings of fruit a day. These findings work out well as this is in fact the expert recommended amount of servings you should eat per day to keep you healthy.
Good fruits to eat during pregnancy
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, beta carotene, potassium and folic acid, all of which are beneficial in keeping your baby healthy, building healthy skin cells and boosting both you and your baby’s immune system. Did you know that eating berries after a meal high in protein or iron will help your body absorb the nutrients better?
These contain vitamins A, C and E, as well as calcium, iron, potassium, beta carotene and phosphorus. These nutrients are beneficial in helping your baby grow healthy and strong.
Not only are oranges an excellent source of vitamin C, but they contain much-needed folate as well. Folate helps prevent neural tube defects, while vitamin C helps prevent cell damage and helps assist with iron absorption.
Rich in vitamins A and C, mangoes help boost immunity. Just one cup of chopped mango will give you 100% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
Pears contain fibre, potassium and folate. Fibre is required to help ease the uncomfortable pregnancy condition, constipation, while heart-healthy potassium is good for both you and your baby.
These little jewel-coloured seeds have become a popular addition to your favourite gin. While you will have to forgo the gin, the tiny fruit seeds are a good source of vitamin K, bone-strengthening calcium, folate, iron, protein and fibre. They are also a fantastic source of energy. Studies published on physiology.org have found that pomegranate juice helps promote a healthy placenta.
Yes, this is a fruit, and an excellent source of fibre, vitamins C, E, K and B, potassium and healthy fats. They are a good source of energy, boost skin-building cells and help build your growing baby’s brain. Not only is potassium good for your heart, but they can help prevent leg cramps in pregnancy.
This fruit contains high levels of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6 and fibre. Bananas are a great source of energy, help prevent leg cramps and constipation. Research has also found that vitamin B6 can help relieve nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy.
These are packed with vitamins A and C, potassium and fibre. Not only does an apple a day keep the doctor away, but a study published in American Thoracic Society, found that eating apples during pregnancy may reduce the future risk of your baby developing asthma or allergies.
Fruits to avoid?
The jury is out on this one, as concern has been raised about various fruits during pregnancy. However, experts, backed by scientific research, agree that in moderation, all fruits have benefits. However, despite their health-boosting benefits, the following fruits should be eaten sparingly or in moderation.
They contain vitamins C and K, folate, antioxidants, fibre and pectin, all which help support the biological changes that occur during and post-pregnancy. Aim for organic grapes to avoid pesticides. However, it is recommended you avoid eating grapes during your last trimester due to its heat-producing property. Plus, excessive consumption can be linked to toxicity, due to resveratrol. While beneficial to general health, resveratrol can be dangerous for pregnant women whose hormones are imbalanced. Avoid grapes during pregnancy if you are diabetic, obese, susceptible to allergies or suffer with indigestion.
Research conducted by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the National University of Singapore found that eating ripe papaya during pregnancy does not pose any significant danger. However, unripe or semi-ripe fruit contains high concentrations of latex, which can promote uterine contractions, and therefore, should be avoided during pregnancy.
In moderation, this nutritious and delicious fruit is healthy and safe during pregnancy. But, concern has been raised regarding bromelain, a type of enzyme found in the fruit, as this has been linked to abnormal bleeding. Bromelain is found in the core of the pineapple with very little found in the actual flesh of the pineapple.
Kim Bell is a wife, mother of two teenagers and a lover of research and the way words flow and meld together. She has been in the media industry for over 20 years, and yet still learns more about life from her children everyday. You can learn more about Kim Bell here.