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14 Antioxidant-Rich Foods For Pregnant Women

Pregnancy demands a proper nutritional diet for the growing baby and the mother. Many micronutrients such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, anthocyanins, vitamin E, selenium and zinc act as antioxidants and prevent the body from oxidative stress.

The term 'oxidative stress' means an imbalance of free radicals or say, oxygen-containing molecules and antioxidants in the body. The free radicals contain an odd number of electrons which makes them react easily with other molecules.

When free radicals are balanced in numbers, they help fight pathogens and protect the body from invasion by microbes. When their count cause imbalance, they start damaging the cell's DNA and proteins and cause diseases such as preeclampsia, cancer, inflammatory diseases, heart conditions and many more.

Antioxidants contain an extra free molecule and donate it to free radicals so that they can get stabilised and less reactive. This is the reason why antioxidants are primarily needed by the body to prevent a wide range of diseases. [1]

During pregnancy, antioxidants help maintain a successful pregnancy and prevent pregnancy outcomes such as preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction, miscarriage and preterm birth.

In this article, we have listed down a few antioxidant-rich foods which pregnant women must add to their diet. Take a look.

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1. Blueberries

A study has shown that blueberries have the strongest total antioxidant capacity due to the presence of phenolic acids, flavonoids, tannins, vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese. [2] They help prevent maternal and fetal complications during pregnancy.

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2. Onions

Onions contain many primary antioxidants such as flavonoids, ascorbic acid, phenols and anthocyanins. Red onions have the highest free radical scavenging activity compared to white onions. Daily including them in the diet helps in both pregnancy and lactation. [3]

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3. Black Beans

Black beans are high in polyphenols which are responsible for their antioxidant effect. The polyphenols help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which further helps in the healthy development of the foetus. [4]

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4. Walnuts

According to a study, walnuts are a rich source of antioxidants such as flavonoids, phenolic acid, vitamin E, melatonin and selenium. Walnuts consumption during pregnancy help in improving learning and memory of the growing baby. [5]

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5. Apples

Apples have a very strong antioxidant capacity. The presence of phytochemicals in this vital fruit is linked to a decreased risk of behavioural issues in infants and low birth weight in newborns. Apples are the most easily available fruit in the market. [6]

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6. Beetroot

Beetroot is packed with antioxidant compounds such as vitamin C, betalains and flavonoids that prevent the body from the harmful effects of oxidative stress. A study says that beetroot is among the ten plants with the highest antioxidant property. [7]

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7. Lean Meat

In lean meat, vitamin E and selenium, a form of antioxidants are in high concentration. Apart from antioxidants, lean meat is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and many vitamins and minerals. Together, they help prevent pregnancy complications such as low birth weight.

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8. Honey

Honey has potent antioxidant activity apart from antibacterial property. The total phenolic acids, vitamin C, flavonoids, catalase and vitamin E in honey act as antioxidants. According to a study, honey contains more than 150 phenolic compounds. [9]

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9. Dark Chocolate

Polyphenols and flavonoids are the main antioxidants in dark chocolate. However, flavonoids such as catechin, epicatechin and procyanidins predominate in this food item are responsible for its antioxidant activity. [10]

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10. Grapes

The skin and seeds of grapes contain most of the antioxidants. Polyphenols, resveratrol, anthocyanins, procyanidins and catechins in grapes are responsible for the antioxidant activity of this fruit. Different varieties of grapes contain different amounts of antioxidants. [11]

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11. Spinach

Spinach is a rich source of antioxidants like carotene and ascorbic acid. This cruciferous veggie is also packed with many vitamins and minerals that help with healthy pregnancy and lactation. [12]

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12. Green Tea

Catechins, a natural antioxidant in green tea is widely known. Also, polyphenols in the tea help prevent damage caused due to oxidative injury. Green tea helps prevent weight gain during pregnancy and promotes embryonic development. [13]

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13. Red Capsicum

Red capsicum or bell peppers contain highest of total phenolics content compare to red, yellow and orange capsicum. Red capsicum contains high levels of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, quercetin, luteolin and capsanthin. [14]

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14. Carrots

Carotenoids and anthocyanins in carrots are high which makes for the great antioxidant capacity of this veggie. Carrots help in the development of the baby's eyes, skin and other vital organs and prevent many pregnancy complications.

Story first published: Wednesday, December 16, 2020, 18:00 [IST]