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12 Protein-Rich Foods For Pregnant Women

Maternal nutrition during pregnancy is very important, especially the intake of key nutrients like proteins. This vital nutrient is an important factor in embryonic survival and its growth and development.

Deficiency of protein during gestation can result in miscarriage, reduced postnatal growth and intrauterine growth restrictions. Also, a high protein diet can result in ammonia toxicity and embryonic death. Therefore, a balanced amount of protein is suggested by health experts for a healthy pregnancy.[1]

According to a study, the average requirement of protein for all stages of pregnancy is 0.88 and 1.1 g/ kg/d.[2]

In this article, we have listed down some of the protein-rich foods that pregnant women must include in their diet without fail. Take a look.

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1. Salmon

Seafood like salmon is high in proteins and is safe to eat as long as it is cooked wisely. This seafood is heart-healthy and also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which is another vital pregnancy nutrient. According to a study, an average seafood intake of around 29 g/day can decrease the risk of small for gestational age in newborns. [3] Therefore, it is a must-have food in pregnancy diet.

Protein in salmon: 20.5 g (100 g)

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2. Chicken Breast

Lean meat such as chicken breast contains more protein compared to other meat cuts. They fulfil around one-third of the daily protein requirements. Adding lean meat to the diet is suggested during pregnancy to support the baby's growth and development.

Protein in chicken breast: 19.64 g (100 g)

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3. Milk

Most of the health benefits of milk are associated with its proteins. A study says that the antihypertensive, anticarcinogenic and immunomodulation properties of milk are due to the milk proteins. Also, milk consumption during pregnancy helps in the healthy development of baby's bones and teeth. [4]

Protein in milk: 3.28 g (100 g)

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4. Kidney Beans

Legumes such as kidney beans are excellent sources of protein. They make for a healthy and tasty pregnancy snack as they can be added to any curries, salads or soups. A study has shown that maternal dietary consumption of kidney beans can decrease the risk of low birth weight and small for gestational age in newborns. [5]

Protein in kidney beans: 22.53 g (100 g)

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5. Eggs

Eggs contain ample amount of high-quality protein along with other micronutrients like choline, calcium, magnesium, folate and vitamins. A study mentions that egg proteins have antioxidants property that prevents the risk of birth defects and help in placental growth. Eggs also help manage cholesterol levels and prevent weight gain during pregnancy. [6]

Protein in eggs: 12.4 g (100 g)

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6. Walnuts

Long-term neurodevelopmental development in children is associated with maternal nut consumption. Nuts such as walnuts are filled with proteins and other vital micronutrients such as magnesium, vitamin E, fibre, calcium and iron. A study has shown that maternal consumption of walnuts during pregnancy helps improve learning and memory in infants. [7]

Protein in walnuts: 15. 23 g (100 g)

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7. Soybeans

Soybeans are packed with soy proteins and its consumption is encouraged for expectant women, especially those who are vegetarians. They are low in cholesterol and saturated fat that helps in weight management during pregnancy. Soybeans are regarded as an only vegetarian superfood as it contains all the eight types of amino acids. [8]

Protein in soybeans: 12. 95 g (100 g)

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8. Greek Yoghurt

In addition to prebiotics, Greek yoghurt is also packed with proteins and many bioactive compounds and essential nutrients. These vital compounds may help in the bone development of the growing foetus and prevent the risk of gestational diabetes and associated heart diseases. [9]

Protein in Greek yoghurt: 8.67 g (100 g)

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9. Chickpeas

For a vegan or a vegetarian expectant mother, chickpeas or garbanzo beans can be the best plant-based protein sources. They provide daily protein requirements, high energy and also make for the best snack. Though proteins in them are less per serving compared to animal proteins, their high intake can fill the gap. [10]

Protein in chickpeas: 20.47 g (100 g)

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10. Soymilk

Soymilk is another soy product rich in soy proteins. Not only for maternal health, but the intake of soymilk is also suggested for newborns who are born with lactose intolerance. Soymilk helps reduce the risk of developmental problems in newborns and improves fetal circulation [11]

Protein in soymilk: 2.92 g (100 g)

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11. Pumpkin Seeds

Not only is the pumpkin, but according to a study, different parts of pumpkin such as pumpkin seeds are also an excellent source of protein along with other nutrients like fatty acids and vitamin C. Even a handful of pumpkin seeds can provide you with required proteins which may help in the healthy fetal development.

Protein in pumpkin seeds: 19. 4 g (100 g)

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12. Almonds

High blood pressure during the third trimester can be a risk factor for the development of heart diseases later in life. Almonds are rich in proteins that may help improve lipid profile and prevent the risk of other pregnancy complications. [12]

Protein in almonds: 19. 35 g (100 g)