Typically, women who are pregnant need about 300 extra calories a day to maintain a healthy pregnancy, but the quality of those calories are also important.

You probably already realize that your nutrition during pregnancy has a significant impact on both you and your growing baby (reducing the risk of birth defects and improving brain development), but you may be surprised to know that mood swings can also be better managed with good nutrition.

Here are some general daily guidelines for nutritious eating during pregnancy:

  • Prenatal vitamins with at least 600 micrograms of folate or folic acid
  • 48 to 80 ounces of water
  • 2 to 4 servings of fruit (1 serving = 1 cup)
  • 4 or more servings of vegetables (1 serving = ½ cup)
  • 6-11 oz of whole grains (1 serving = 1 slice or ½ a muffin, 4-6 crackers, 1 tortilla, ⅓ cup cooked rice, ½ cup cooked pasta or cereal)
  • 3 servings of lean protein (total of 70 to 100g; 1 serving = 3 ounces)
  • 4 servings of dairy (pasteurized) (total of 1000 mg calcium; 1 serving = 1 cup milk, 6 ounces yogurt, 1 ounce of cheese, ½ cup ice cream)
  • Limit: caffeine and canned tuna (no more than 6 ounces of tuna per week)
  • Avoid: alcohol, pasteurized food, raw meat or raw seafood and seafood with mercury

We have also compiled a list of the best food options for each group, although it is important to keep in mind fat content and total daily caloric needs.  We based these lists on which food provides the greatest amount of nutrients compared to other food sources within each food group:

Best Fruits
Avocados
Grapes
Pomegranates
Apples
Bananas
Apricots
Berries
Oranges
Mangoes
Pears

Best Vegetables
Dark leafy greens
Beans
Sweet potatoes
Broccoli
Lentils
Bell peppers
Chickpeas
Peas
Tomatoes
Summer squash
Asparagus

Best Lean Proteins
Chicken
Lean meat
Seafood (cooked, low-mercury)
Tofu
Eggs
Oats
Quinoa
Wild rice
Low-fat yogurt
Legumes (chickpeas, beans, peas)
Cottage cheese
Pasteurized cheese 
Nuts
Seeds

Best Whole Grains
Oatmeal
Cereals*
Cornbread
Bagels*
Hot dog buns*
Hamburger buns*
English muffins*
Brown rice
Wild rice
Rice cakes
Pasta*
Tortillas*
Popcorn
Waffles*
Pancakes*

Best Dairy (pasteurized)**
Milk (all types)
Yogurt (all types)
Eggs
Pasteurized cheese (cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella)
Cottage cheese
Sherbet
Frozen yogurt

*Must be whole grain or wheat.

**If you are lactose intolerant, strive for calcium-rich foods and a calcium supplement

Best Fruits

Best Vegetables

Avocados
Grapes
Pomegranates
Apples
Bananas

Apricots
Berries
Oranges
Mangoes
Pears

Dark leafy greens
Beans
Sweet potatoes
Broccoli
Lentils
Bell peppers (all colors)

Chickpeas
Peas
Tomatoes
Summer squash
Asparagus

Best Lean Proteins

Best Whole Grains

Chicken
Lean beef or pork
Seafood (cooked, with low-mercury)
Tofu
Eggs
Oats
Quinoa
Wild rice

Low-fat yogurt
Chickpeas
Beans
Peas

Cottage cheese
Pasteurized cheese 
Nuts
Seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, flax)

Oatmeal
Cereals*
Cornbread
Bagels*
Hot dog buns*
Hamburger buns*
Brown rice
Wild rice

English muffins*
Rice cakes
Pasta*
Tortillas*
Popcorn
Waffles*
Pancakes*

Best Dairy (pasteurized)**

Milk (all types)
Yogurt (all types)
Eggs
Pasteurized cheese 

Cottage cheese
Sherbet
Frozen yogurt

*Must be whole grain or wheat.

**If you are lactose intolerant, strive for calcium-rich foods and a calcium supplement.

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