Pregnancy is a time for surprises, especially when it comes to your taste buds. You end up eating things you once hated and repulse the sight of your all-time favorites! On top of that, you have to make sure everything that goes inside your body is healthy. This can be a challenge for someone who craves ice-creams at 2! As a mom-to-be, you not just have to eat 'right' but also ensure you get all the nutrients in the 'right' amounts. While most of us get our vitamins, minerals, and proteins in order, many expecting women struggle to achieve optimal DHA levels. And that's a perfect reason to come up with a detailed DHA-rich diet for pregnancy!
Look up all the prenatal vitamins or supplements that you're taking. There's a high chance that you'll spot DHA listed right away! DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is an Omega-3 fatty acid crucial for a healthy & full-term pregnancy. It lowers the risk of preterm birth by 42%,1 promotes a healthy birth weight,1 and supports your little one's brain, eye, as well as nervous system development.2,3 Not just the baby, DHA is also beneficial for all new & soon-to-be mamas, reducing the chances of depression, mood swings, and preeclampsia (high blood pressure).2,4 Therefore, sticking to a DHA-rich diet during pregnancy will ensure that a mom and her baby experience their healthiest selves before and after birth.
Whether you like it grilled, roasted, or steamed, eating fish is the best way for expecting women to get Omega-3 DHA! Along with fulfilling your DHA needs, fish remains low on saturated fats and calories but high in protein and vitamin D.5 In short, when it comes to curating a DHA-rich diet for a pregnant woman, fish always makes it to the top.
However, expecting women should ensure that not all types of fish make it to their weekly menu! Options like shrimp, pollock, sardines, catfish, salmon, trout, and herring are safe choices but stay away from swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish that contain mercury or dioxin in high amounts.2
Hate eating fish? Or, a new vegan? Well, no food item can substitute fish when it comes to high & readily available DHA content. That's when artificial supplements come into the picture, especially if your DHA levels are extremely low. There are two types of Omega-3 DHA supplements available on the market - plant-based algal supplements and fish-oil supplements.
Algal DHA supplements are extracted from algal biomass present in the environment or through artificial cultivation in specialized fermentation vessels. On the other hand, fish oil DHA supplements are obtained from the tissues of oily fishes.
Both algal and fish oil DHA supplements have shown positive results for pregnant women and newborns. Studies highlight that regular DHA supplementation during pregnancy reduces the chances of preterm birth, preeclampsia, and post-delivery depression. It also promotes overall brain development in babies along with a healthy birth weight.8, 9
Eggs should make it to your DHA-rich diet during pregnancy without fail. They are extremely healthy for the mother as well as her unborn baby due to their abundant supply of proteins, vitamins, and minerals in just a single serving. 11
One cooked egg contains just 0.03 g of DHA.6 But that's not sufficient for an expecting woman who requires at least 1.24 g of DHA one day.6 As a solution, we now have fortified Omega-3 DHA eggs available in the market. Omega-3 fortified or enriched eggs are nothing but eggs that come from chickens feeding on a diet rich in DHA, like flax seeds.
So, if an egg has been a staple in your daily diet, try changing it with omega-3 enriched ones. But make sure you cook it properly and don't miss out on the yolk - that's where all DHA is stored!
Next on our list is the ultimate go-to crunchy snack - Walnuts! Loaded with nutrients like vitamin E, copper, and manganese,13 walnuts are also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. They contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which acts as a precursor for the formation of DHA in the body. 14
So munching on a few walnuts when you feel hungry can be a good idea, especially if you follow a strict vegan or vegetarian diet. If you are not a big fan, make these nuts a part of other recipes, like granola, yogurt, and oatmeal.
Once restricted to the shelves of a few health stores, flax and chia seeds have gained a sudden spotlight among the common. And this popularity is understandable, considering their high nutritive and fibrous content. Chia seeds are rich in manganese and selenium, whereas flax seeds contain magnesium, among many other essential nutrients. But most importantly, both these seeds are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids.16, 17
Like other vegetarian food items on the list for our DHA-rich diet during pregnancy, flax and chia seeds do not contain DHA, but ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which serves as a precursor for DHA production in our bodies. When taken in moderation, they can serve immense benefits to the growing nutritive needs of both the mother and her baby! 18, 19
Voilà! We are done curating your perfect pregnancy plate. Now let’s focus on the next part - Will this diet work for you or not? Each one of us has a different body and leads a different lifestyle, making our nutritive needs more unique. What works for one mom-to-be may not go well for the other! Therefore, we should have a way to see if our new diets are providing us with sufficient Omega-3 DHA or not.
LifeCell has introduced an advanced OmegaScore-P test that helps you measure, modify & monitor blood DHA levels in the comfort of your home! With just a single drop of blood, our safe & non-invasive prenatal test delivers deep insights into your health. OmegaScore-P test measures the amount of DHA in your blood against a target recommended level and helps expecting mothers like you understand if their diet contains the required amount of DHA or not. The derived results can allow you to personalize your diets as per your doctor's recommendation & safely change your DHA levels in 4 weeks. For more information on OmegaScore-P, call 18002665533 now.
*Disclaimer: The information in this blog is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Kindly consult your doctor or healthcare professional before incorporating any changes to your diet.