Good Nuts to Eat for an Expectant Mom
Nuts have ridden the roller coaster of public opinion over the past several decades. Once shunned for their high fat content, nuts now enjoy a place on the “beneficial foods” list, ironically for that same fat content. During pregnancy, nuts have a high price tag in terms of calories, but they also have nutritional benefits such as a high protein and a healthy fat content. Most nuts contain between 160 and 200 calories per 1-ounce serving.
Walnuts, with 2.6 grams in a 1-ounce serving, serve as the best nut source of omega-3 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fats found in just a few foods. Omega-3 fatty acids aid your baby’s brain development. Many pregnant women have trouble getting an adequate supply of omega-3 fatty acid because of the recommendation that pregnant women not eat more than 12 ounces of fish per week due to the risk of mercury contamination. Fatty fish are one of the best dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts also contain monounsaturated fats that can help lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Like all nuts, walnuts can help you meet your protein requirements, supplying 4 grams of protein per ounce. You need between 75 and 100 grams of protein per day during pregnancy, the American Pregnancy Association advises.
Almonds, like walnuts, contain healthy unsaturated fats that help lower cholesterol. Unlike walnuts, almonds do not contain omega-3 fatty acids. When eating almonds, don’t eat them raw, as they could become contaminated with salmonella or other bacteria during handling. All California-grown almonds must undergo steaming, blanching or roasting to kill any potentially harmful bacteria. Almonds contain 6 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving.
Peanuts, like many tree nuts, contain healthy unsaturated fats. A 1-ounce serving of peanuts supplies around 10 percent of your daily folate, the B-complex vitamin that can prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida when consumed before you get pregnant and through the first three months of pregnancy. Peanuts also contain around 20 percent of your daily niacin, another B-complex vitamin. An ounce of peanuts also supplies 7 grams of protein.
The Food and Drug Administration considers hazelnuts, pecans and pistachio nuts to be heart-healthy nuts along with walnuts, almonds and peanuts. Pecans and pistachio nuts each contain a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids — 0.3 grams per 1-ounce serving for pecans and 0.1 gram for the same-sized serving of pistachios. Pistachios supply 6 grams of protein per ounce, compared with 4 grams for hazelnuts and 3 grams for pecans.