15 Best Foods to Eat During Pregnancy

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The best foods to eat during pregnancy include fish, carrots, oranges, spinach, mangoes, avocados, edamame, chicken, popcorn, and many more.

Pregnancy is a time of strange cravings and seemingly endless hunger for a good reason as you are eating for two people. However, despite how easy it seems to reach for more ice cream, snacks, junk food, and carbohydrates, the normal requirements of your body are still in place, but they are doubly important because you are helping shape the development of your baby, as well.

According to a recent study, w [1]omen with poor diet before pregnancy are more likely to give birth prematurely than women who have a healthy diet. Therefore, eating a well-balanced meal, with a specific focus on certain types of nutrients that are particularly beneficial for fetal development, is a necessary and sometimes challenging part of being pregnant. [2]

High levels of iron, magnesium, vitamin A, folic acid, potassium, protein, calcium, copper, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids are just some of these essential dietary needs during pregnancy. [3]

List of Foods to Eat During Pregnancy

If you stick to a diet that includes moderate intake of the foods explained below, you will not only have a more pleasant and smoother term of pregnancy but also keep you and your baby safe during those nine months. Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the best foods to eat during pregnancy.


Eggs always provide our body with a low-calorie, high protein, and versatile food source, but when pregnant, the certain types of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, is particularly beneficial. It is known to boost brain development and the formation of healthy eyes. Egg whites are an even healthier option. [4]

Dairy Products

Calcium is one of the key elements of a pregnancy diet, and the best type of foods for consistent and direct calcium supply is dairy products. Furthermore, the high content of vitamin D, vitamin A, and protein found in everything from milk to certain types of cheese is just as important for the development of your newborn. Hence dairy products make it to the list of foods to eat during pregnancy. [5]

A pregnant woman standing next to a table, which has fresh fruits and a blender filled with cut fruits on it

A nutritious, well-balanced eating plan can be one of the greatest gifts you give to your developing baby. Photo Credit: Shutterstock


These fruits are wonderful during pregnancy, as they offer a variety of benefits. The folic acid content ensures proper neural tube development in the baby, the vitamin C stimulates the development of a healthy immune system, while other B vitamins do everything from preventing morning sickness to improving tissue development of your unborn child. Also, avocados are very high in healthy fats, so they can help you boost your weight and feel full if you’re craving food. [6]

Sea Salt

Although most people tend to stay away from salt to improve their health, increase circulation, and lower blood pressure, sea salt has one very important element for proper fetal development – iodine. As most pregnant women are told to stay away from sushi (and the seaweed packed with iodine that is involved in that Japanese dish) sea salt is often the best method of adding this essential hormone-balancing nutrient to your pregnancy diet. [7]


This popular Japanese snack is actually nothing more than cooked soybeans. They also pack a powerful punch for pregnancy and can replace beans in the diet (while also reducing flatulence). Edamame is a great source of protein, folic acid, vitamin A, B vitamins, and calcium, all of which are important for proper fetal development. [8]


This is a subject of some debate for a pregnancy diet. Some fish can contain trace amounts of mercury and other harmful trace minerals and compounds that could be very unhealthy for your child. However, fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring tend to have low levels of dangerous minerals and are packed with healthy nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, which are extremely important for the proper development of your baby. Only get your fish from reputable sources and speak to your doctor about what percentage of fish intake is right for your specific diet. [9]


Vitamin A is an essential part of a pregnancy diet, as it guarantees the proper formation of skin, eyes, teeth, and bones for your baby. Furthermore, the vitamin C and vitamin B have their own functions, while the high fiber content keeps your bowels moving regularly, preventing pregnancy constipation that can be irritating. [10]


While this technically falls under the category of dairy products, yogurt has some unique characteristics that make it a separate dietary item, including that all-important folic acid and vitamin D. Furthermore, yogurt contains gut microflora prebiotics that can improve nutrient absorption in your stomach and ensure the efficient uptake of essential vitamins and minerals to you and your baby. [11]


This delicious and exotic fruit is a wonderful source of potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, which spurs fetal development and improves your blood pressure and immune system while pregnant, both of which are notorious victims of pregnancy stress on the body. Also, mangos are good for settling the stomach and reducing morning sickness. [12]


Oatmeal and other types of grains are packed with minerals, like iron and copper, as well as a major dose of fiber. Fiber helps to boost your heart health, which takes a serious beating sometimes during pregnancy, while also regulating your bowels, reducing cramping, nausea, and other gastrointestinal issues that so often plague pregnant mothers. [13]

An infographic on the best foods to eat during pregnancy

Consult with your doctor before making any changes in your diet. Photo Credit: Shutterstock


This doesn’t make it on too many healthy food lists, but popcorn is surprisingly healthy; it is the loads of salt and butter that most people include that makes this snack less than an idea. However, popcorn has a significant level of fiber, vitamin E, selenium, and even some antioxidant compounds (phytonutrients) that can protect the development and strength of your baby’s cell membranes. [14]


When pregnant, there is a good chance that you’re always snacking and looking for something to tide you over to the next meal. Nuts are an easy, on-the-go snack that provides a wealth of minerals including magnesium, iron, copper, selenium, and zinc, all of which play an important role in maintaining your mineral levels, as well as the baby growing inside you. Furthermore, the omega-3 fats found in walnuts, almonds, and pistachios are essential for brain development of your infant. [15]


Spinach is packed with important pregnancy nutrients, including calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, iron, and folic acid, as well as a range of antioxidants that can protect your developing baby from any chronic diseases. The high iron content is particularly important for the mother, as anemia is a common concern during pregnancy and immediately following birth. Plus, your baby’s red blood cells need to form too, so extra iron from spinach is a wise choice. [16]


These tiny, unassuming dietary boosters are some of the most folate-packed items in the grocery store, so they protect your baby from neural tube defects better than almost anything else. Furthermore, lentils also contain high levels of fiber, iron, and complex carbohydrates that will keep you feeling full and will optimize your digestive process and absorption of nutrients. [17]


Chicken and other lean forms of protein are a must for your baby’s development, as the amount of protein required for fetal development is massive. However, be sure that you primarily get high-quality lean protein (one that is very low-fat) and avoid any overly processed meats, as they can often contain harmful bacteria or chemicals that you shouldn’t be putting in your body when you’re eating for two. [18]

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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