8 Foods to Eat When Pregnant…and 4 to Skip

Eating well matters—especially for expecting moms. Below, check out a list of the best foods to eat when pregnant, as well as the ones you should skip!

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Black Beans in wooden spoon with ceramic bowl

Good to Eat When Pregnant: Beans

What’s great about legumes is that they’re rich in many of the key nutrients needed in pregnancy, such as fiber, protein, calcium, iron and folate. Working them into your diet means boosting your overall nutrient intake in a big way.

Find the best recipes for every type of beans.

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Twice baked sweet potato
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Good to Eat When Pregnant: Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene, a compound vital for healthy fetal development. Likewise, they contain plenty of fiber, which is known to improve digestive health and reduce blood sugar spikes.

Here are the most amazing ways to love sweet potatoes!

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Fresh green superfood kale leaves in wooden bowl on wooden background ; Shutterstock ID 522756688; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): Taste of Home

Good to Eat When Pregnant: Leafy Greens

Given that dark, leafy greens are so high in nutrients, it’s no surprise to say they’re a great choice in pregnancy. Up your daily fiber, calcium, iron, folate, potassium and vitamins C, K and A by consuming more spinach, kale and chard. Bonus: Learn how much water you should drink during pregnancy.

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Close-up view of raw chicken eggs in egg box on white wooden background
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Good to Eat When Pregnant: Eggs

Eating eggs during pregnancy is a great way to get more good protein, fat, vitamins and minerals in your diet. On top of that, they’re also a good source of choline, a nutrient shown to be essential for good brain growth and development.

Here’s how to cook an egg, every which way.

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Good to Eat When Pregnant: Lean Meat

Lean meat, like poultry, pork and some cuts of beef, can be a great protein source during pregnancy. Beef and pork also have high amounts of iron, choline and B vitamins, all of which benefit you and your baby. Get to know the reason why pregnant women crave pickles.

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Good to Eat When Pregnant: Whole Grains

Considered a basic building block of a healthy diet, whole grains are even more beneficial in pregnancy. They’re usually rich in B vitamins, fiber and magnesium, all of which a mom-to-be will need. Plus, some whole grains, like oats or quinoa, also pack a hefty punch of protein.

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Mix of dried and sun-dried fruits, dried fruits in a wooden box on a white wooden background.
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Good to Eat When Pregnant: Dried Fruits

Dried fruits carry decent amounts of fiber and potassium in a small package, so they’re an easy, grab-and-go way to eat healthy. They’re also naturally high in sugar, so keep in mind a little goes a long way. (Avoid the kind with added sugar, if possible.)

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Homemade Guacamole
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Good to Eat When Pregnant: Avocados

Everybody’s favorite guacamole ingredient is also a wonderful nutrient source in pregnancy! Avocados are high in monounsaturated fatty acids, fiber, potassium, copper and vitamins E, C and B (including folate).

Find even more ways to work this fruit into your diet.

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Chicken egg is half broken among other eggs

Bad to Eat When Pregnant: Raw Eggs

Eggs are great in pregnancy, but only if they’re cooked. Raw eggs are out because they could be contaminated with salmonella. You could end up with fever, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps, not to mention the risk of premature birth for your little one.

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Raw red meat
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Bad to Eat When Pregnant: Rare or Raw Meat

With raw meat, there’s the risk of infection from several types of bacterial exposure, including, but not limited to, salmonella. Such an infection could harm your baby or even lead to miscarriage. That’s why it’s best to skip uncooked meat of any kind.

Curious about other foods always best to cook? Read about the foods you should never eat raw here.

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Tuna steak on fettuccine
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Bad to Eat When Pregnant: High-Mercury Fish

Because mercury can impact a baby’s brain development, eating fish with high exposure is a major no-no. Avoid king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish and ahi and bigeye tuna. Likewise, while canned tuna usually has less mercury content than other types, it’s still best to only eat in moderation. For extra peace of mind, buy a super low-mercury tuna like Safe Catch.

Find the best fish to buy instead.

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Bad to Eat When Pregnant: Deli Meat

The problem with deli meat is the threat of listeria contamination. Should the smoked turkey or roast beef you eat be contaminated, the bacteria could harm you and your baby. For the best protection, skip deli meat. If you can’t stop the cravings, heat it until it steams and eat it right away.

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Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is an experienced copywriter and food blogger with a master's degree in Writing. She likes tested recipes, organized refrigerators and the pleasure of a good bite.