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Pregnancy Foods: Top 5 Fertility Boosters and Drainers

Drinking Milk is a Pregnancy Must!
Food is such a hot topic when it comes to pregnancy—what to eat, what not to eat, how much to eat, what's a healthy amount of weight to gain while pregnant...the list is endless! The amount of information out there can be overwhelming! So I spoke to Elizabeth Ward, a registered dietician and author of Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy, to give you a quick and easy rundown of what to eat and what to steer clear of. Here are her recommendations.

The five best foods for fertility and pregnancies:

- Eggland's Best Eggs: "EB eggs contain four times more vitamin D than ordinary eggs and they provide a lean source of protein," says Ward. "In addition, they contain no trans fats and nearly all the fat in EB eggs is unsaturated. Eggs are also a source of choline. In observational studies, choline has helped reduce the risk for birth defects in the first month of life. During pregnancy a child's brain is developing at a very rapid pace. It needs the omega-3 fats found in seafood and in Eggland's Best Eggs, which provide twice the amount of omega-3s in ordinary eggs. Healthy women can have 2 EB eggs a day."

- Canned light tuna and salmon: "They are excellent sources of vitamin D and lean protein. They are also relatively low-risk fish in terms of mercury. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating at least two fish meals a week."

- Legumes: "Chickpeas, black beans, and other beans are free of trans fat, are low-glycemic carbohdyrate sources and are full of filling fiber. Start with 1/4 cup to your daily diet, and you can eat up to a cup of beans daily."

- Fortified whole grains: "Whole grains have fiber and are low-glycemic carbohydrate sources. Women should eat at least three servings of whole grains daily."

- Full-fat vitamin-D fortified milk: "According to the research, full-fat dairy is associated with fertility. A total of three servings from the dairy group daily is the goal." Also, according to some research, drinking milk while pregnant can cause your children to be taller!

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Five things to steer clear of if you want to get pregnant or are pregnant:

- Alcohol: "Alcohol is of course bad for pregnancies, but what all women don't know is that drinking can also put a damper on fertility."

- Caffeine: "It may also be surprising to know that there is a lot of conflicting research about caffeine. Some studies say it causes miscarriage and small babies and others say no.  I err on the side of caution and go with the March of Dimes suggestion to limit caffeine during pregnancy to 200 milligrams a day or less. When you're trying to conceive, excess coffee may be crowding out other more nutritious beverages but may not actually be limiting fertility."

- Red meats: Lean red meat is one of the best sources of iron, "but fatty meats should be avoided."

- Trans fats: "Things like French fries, donuts and pastries, and margarine may sabotage fertility."

- Refined carbs: "Excessive amounts of refined carbs (white bread, white rice, white pasta, etc) and added (not naturally occuring) sugar are also problematic."

According to Ward, "Women should take their preconception diet and lifestyle very seriously." Weighing too much delays time to conception (being underweight can, too) and starting your pregnancy overweight may mean a bigger baby who goes on to be overweight later in life. "The number one issue for women," says Ward, "is achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight (based on BMI) on a balanced diet to encourage fertility and to help insure a healthy pregnancy for mom and baby."

Always try to start pregnancy in the best shape possible. "Manage any underlying health conditions, including body weight, high blood pressure, and anemia before conception occurs," advises Ward. "There's no way to figure how much of a change women will see in their fertility based on healthy eating but it is known that they will begin pregnancy in a much healthier state that will reduce complications for them and their child."

TELL US: Did you make any dietary changes before getting pregnant or during your pregnancy? 

NEXT: Your personal pregnancy calendar (It's free!)

Image of woman drinking milk courtesy of Shutterstock.

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