Out of the three major nutrients, protein is perhaps the most important one during pregnancy. Your body will need more protein molecules for building the tissues and cells around the placenta, uterus, and even the fetal cells. You will often see your doctor urging you to take more protein-rich foods for pregnancy.
If your body is a deficit of this particular macronutrient, you might suffer from a lot of implications. This is why today, we will introduce you to the top foods that have high protein content and are safe for your pregnancy. Apart from that, we will also discuss a few relatable facts about protein intake while you are pregnant.
Why Should A Pregnant Woman Take Protein?
Protein is the building block since it is needed for new cell formation, repair of worn-out tissues, repair of internal organ linings, etc. This nutrient is made out of several smaller units of amino acids. Several types of amino acids are there, each having a different function in the body.
When you are pregnant, your body’s need for protein will increase. As your body will undergo several changes during pregnancy, you need to provide proper raw materials for the changes to happen without hassles. That is why having protein-rich foods for pregnancy is so important.
After the proteins are broken down during digestion, the amino acids are used to develop tissues in the mammary glands. Also, the uterine walls are made stronger with new cell and tissue additions where proteins are needed.
Apart from this, the proteins you are taking will also help develop fetal cells and tissues. This is why you need to revise your pregnancy diet and check whether you have enough foods to meet the protein requirements during pregnancy or not.
How Much Proteins A Pregnant Woman Need?
According to reports from NCBI, it is proven that about 440g of protein is needed during the entire pregnancy course for the development of fetal tissues. Apart from this, the placental cells need to be constantly formed and repaired. For this, about 100 grams of protein will be required over the nine-month course.
The mother’s body will need about 490 grams of protein during pregnancy for maternal cell development.
According to this data1, every day, a mother needs to have at least 3 to 4 grams of protein per day on average. However, during the third trimester, about 10.7 grams of protein will be required by your body for cell building around your cervix and uterus. As a result, you cannot ignore the need to have protein-rich foods for pregnancy in your diet.
Top 10 Protein-Rich Foods For Pregnancy
Since you are aware of protein’s significance for a pregnant lady and the approximate amount you should take, let’s bring back our focus on the top protein-rich foods for pregnancy that are safe.
The first food that we will talk about is eggs. This particular ingredient is indeed quite high in protein, especially albumin. Based on the type of egg you are having in your meal, the protein content will vary.
- An egg, on average, will have 17.1 grams of protein per 100-gram weight2
- Egg white contains 26.5g of proteins per 100 grams of weight3
- Egg yolk will have 38.5g of proteins per 100 grams4
Eggs need to be eaten cooked because the smell of the raw eggs can be repulsive during pregnancy. You can pair it with your breakfast sandwich or be included in the lunch or dinner meals.
Related Reading: 11 Sauces To Avoid During Pregnancy
2. Lean meat
Meat is one of the best protein-rich foods for pregnancy. However, not all meat types are safe for a pregnant woman. This is why you should rely on having lean meat rather than the other types. Skinless chicken is a type of lean meat along with fatless pork, beef, and lamb.
- The chicken will contain 32g of protein per 100 grams
- Pork chops contain 31.6g of protein per 100 grams serving
- Lamb will have 29.2g of protein per 100 grams serving
- Beefsteak consists of 31g of protein per serving of 100 grams Source
Lean meat needs to be cooked properly before you consume the food. As this is one of the best nondairy protein-rich foods for pregnancy, you can include the meat almost every other day in your meal plans.
If you are a fish lover, salmon will be one of the best protein-rich foods for pregnancy. Salmon is seafood, and hence you must make sure the fish you are buying is mercury-free. Salmon is high in protein content and in Omega fatty acids, which are essential for proper fetal brain development.
- In salmon, you will find 39.3g of protein per 100 grams of fish serving5.
Salmon can be taken in different ways like poached salmon in butter, grilled salmon, seared salmon, etc. You can even pair some sauté vegetables like asparagus, sweet potato cubes, broccoli, bell papers, and others. You can even use herbs while cooking salmon. Make sure it’s either medium-rare or medium, as raw salmon wouldn’t be good for pregnancy.
Related Reading: 11 Symptoms Of Not Eating Enough While Pregnant
The different milk products are perfect for protein-rich foods vegetarians like cow milk, goat milk, and others. If you consider these dairy products as protein sources during your pregnancy, make sure that you are not lactose intolerant.
- Cow milk contains 3.5g of protein per 100 grams6
- Goat milk has 3.6g of protein per 100 grams7
- Almond milk contains approximately 1g to 1.5g of protein per 100 grams8
You can take milk in the raw form or shakes, smoothies, and also with morning cereals.
Another amazing protein-rich vegetarian food for pregnancyis legumes. Legumes like peas, kidney beans, chickpeas, and others are also high in fiber content and several other minerals and vitamins essential for pregnancy.
- Chickpeas contain 14.5g of protein per 100 grams9
- Lentils consist of 17.96g of protein per 100 grams10
- 13.4g of protein is present in 100 grams of kidney beans11
Legumes are mainly eaten in curries and other types of heavy meal recipes. It’s one of the best protein-rich foods for pregnancy as you will have different legume options.
Nuts are said to contain high protein amounts, so we have included this food in your list. Different types of nuts like almonds, raisins, walnuts etc. have different protein content.
- 21.15g of protein is present in 100g almonds 12
- 15.23g protein is present in 100g walnuts13
- Cashews have 15.31g protein per 100g14
Nuts can be taken in raw form as well as roasted form. You can add them to your smoothies, shakes, homemade granolas, and others. This is why it is considered to be the best protein-rich snack for a pregnant lady.
Seeds are also a good source of protein, just like nuts. Be it the muskmelon seeds or the pumpkin seeds. They contain several essential nutrients, the main being protein.
- Flaxseeds have 5.2g protein per 100g 15
- Chia seeds contain 4.4g protein per 100g 16
- In pumpkin seeds, 33.9g of protein is present in every 100g17
Various types of seeds can be added to cereals, granola bars, smoothies, shakes, and even your favorite pies and desserts.
8. Green vegetables
Green vegetables are wonderful protein-rich foods for pregnancy. Some of them are extremely high in protein content, but they also act as a major source of several vitamins and minerals.
- Dark broccolis contain 2.6g protein per 100g 18
- Brussel sprouts contain 0.5g protein per 100g serving19
Green vegetables can be eaten raw or in sautéd form. You can even use the green leaves to make detoxifying and healthy smoothies and shakes.
If you are looking for fruits rich in protein for pregnancy, berries will be an ideal option. These fruits not only have high protein content but also provides a lot of other essential nutrients.
- Raspberries contain 1.5g protein per 100g20
- Blueberries have 1.1g protein in every 100g serving21
- Strawberries contain 1g of protein every 100g22
Berries are best taken with pancakes, French toast, sandwiches, morning cereals, oatmeal, and smoothies.
Related Reading:15 Fruits Not To Eat During Pregnancy
The last one is avocado, and to be honest, it has become one of the best protein-rich foods for pregnancy.
- Raw avocadoes have 3g of protein per 100g of fruit23
Avocadoes are mainly eaten in raw form like in sandwiches, Caesar salads, guacamole, etc. Make sure that the avocado you are buying is fresh and has ripened considerably.
Now that you know the approximate protein requirement of your body during pregnancy, you need to ensure that your diet is having enough protein-rich foods for pregnancy so that you won’t have to suffer from the consequences of protein deficiency.
If your body is in the deficit of enough amino acids, the fetus will face direct implications and might suffer from different diseases after birth. As we have given you the top ten protein-rich foods, make sure to include the maximum of them in your diet so that your pregnancy can become smoother and safer.