FATS FOR PREGNANCY
Fats have an essential roll in anyone’s diet but they become crucial during pregnancy. Your baby’s brain, which is approximately 60% fat, is being formed from scratch during pregnancy.
Essential fatty acids, cholesterol, hormone sythesis, and
So it’s understandable that your bodies need for fat soluble vitamins and other nutrients found in high fat foods goes up during pregnancy. The human brain requires high demands for cholesterol, choline, omega-3 fats, and a variety of fat soluble nutrients.
• Support baby’s brain and eye development
• Aid in the growth of the placenta and tissue growth for mom
• Unsaturated fats can prevent preterm birth and low birth weight
• Fats increase nutrient adsorption of the vitamins and minerals in vegetables
• Omega-3 fats contribute to higher IQ, lower rates of depression, _____ in babies
• Fats help to stabalize blood glucose levels and reduce the rate of gestational diabetes
• Fats present with meals contribute to satiation and reduce overall snacking
not all fats are created equal
Just like carbohydrates, there is a large range of foods that fit into the fat category.
Avocados and deep fried butter are both fats sources of fat. I’m sure you can guess which one is healthier.
The fastest way to decide if a food is a healthy fat, ask yourself, did it come from a whole food? Or were the fats added in later during processing?
Let’s start with whole food fats: nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, and coconut. There are also fats naturally present in oily fish, marblings and the skins of meat, in yogurt, milk, butter, and ghee.
These are fats our body recognizes, unlike processed fats that have been converted from -cis to -trans formations which are
fats to avoid eating in your diet
Now that we covered a few of my favorite fats, let’s talk about the fats that don’t have a place on your pregnancy plate: trans fats.
Avoid trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils such as margarine
Omega-3’s are the holy grail of the fat kingdom. They have the most health benefits out of any other type of fat. The foods with the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids are ______. To learn more about the health benefits of essential fatty acids and DHA for fetal development take a deep dive on my post of omega-3’s.
Unsaturated and monounsaturated fats are
cold water fish
Fish are my fav fav fav source of fat in a pregnancy diet. Fish are highest in protein our of the three macronutrients – but they are the star of my fat categories because of omega-3.
The science is so clear that omega-3 is one of the most essential parts of your pregnancy diet so I’ve obviously written an entire post on the subject.
The takeaway is that fish should be in regular rotation. Salmon, cod, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies are all great sources of omega-3. Check out my buyers guide on buying fish here.
Avocados are high in fats by weight (77% fat in fact), and like most plant fats, avocados contain heart healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Plant-based fats are also all great sources of dietary fiber, unlike animal products, which have zero fiber.
One avocado can deliver 40% of your dietary fiber for the day. It’s also a good source of Vitamin K, folate, and potassium.
Avocados can be consumed so many different ways. They can be added into smoothies, blended into dressings, top off salads, stirred into soups, or eaten alone with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt. Avocados are a blank slate for culinary exploration. An easy staple to your pregnancy plate.
Coconuts are the only plant food that is high in saturated fats. The meat of the coconut is a rich source of dietary fat and fiber.
Adding coconut flakes on top of chia pudding, oatmeal, toast, curry, and salads are a great way to make the meal more filling. Full-fat canned coconut milk is one of my favorite ways to add fat into carbohydrate rich stews and bring balance to the meal.
Make sure that you are always buying coconut products that do not have any added sugar. Rolled coconut flakes are often coated in a ridiculous amount of white sugar. You’ll immediately be able to taste the difference between the two.
Seeds are one of the easiest toppings to put on your meal to add fat and fiber. These tiny little guys also pack a punch of trace minerals we are often lacking in our pregnancy diet.
I have several jars of seeds that I rotate between for toppers on my salads, soups, and I even blend them into my smoothies. Basically any meal that needs a little bit of crunch has added seeds sprinkled on top.
When purchasing seeds in the store make sure they don’t have added salt and other seasonings. I always look for raw seeds because the beneficial fats can be ruined by high heat when roasted. If you want to know more, I wrote an entire post about the health benefits and a buyers guide for my six favorite seeds.
Nuts are my holy grail of the fat kingdom. The most versatile ingredient that can be used in so many different ways.
They can be blended into smoothies, made into milks, butters, or lightly roasted for the perfect snack. Nuts are full of fiber, they are packed with heart healthy unsaturated fats, and are a major source of minerals. Nuts absolutely should be a staple in your pregnancy diet.
Learn more about buying, storing, and how to incorporate nuts into your diet in my nut post. Just like seeds, there are so many varieties, so don’t be afraid to mix it up.
If you still think a can of black olives are your only choice, then girl I’m about to open another world for you.
You will never find black olives on a tree in Italy. Green olives are picked and cured using a diluted brine with lye in it. The lye treatment causes the natural phenolic compounds in the green olives too oxidize and turn them black.
Just like any other food, I favor having it closest to the original source. Hence my love for fresh olives still wrapped around the pit. Green olives are high in vitamin E and antioxidants and they are also a source of iron. Fresh olives are one of the components of the heart healthy Greek diet that is full of healthy monounsaturated fats.
I’m not condoning you licking up the bottom of the bacon pan or ordering deep fried KCF drumsticks.
However, meat marbling and fat drippings are not as demonic as you might think. Not only are they a natural part of the original food source – these fats are what actually make you feel full.
Do not be concerned about the tiny amount of fat that will drip off of the chicken breast skins that crisp the corners and contribute to flavor and satiation. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
There are several foods that fall into this category: yogurt, milk, cheese, butter, and ghee. I’m a fan of all five.
However, there is one small caveat. Don’t eat fat-free dairy products.
I know it sounds counterintuitive to everything I’m sure you’ve heard your entire adult life.
But, most fat-free foods have sugar and other additives that make these lackluster dairy products taste good again. If you want to learn more about dairy products feel free to read my post diving deeper into dairy.
The bottom line, don’t be afraid of a little butter.
There are so many types of oils on the market. In any given grocery store you can find at least a dozen varieties of olive oil.
I strongly recommend you read my post about oils that explains how oils oxidize, what smoke point is, and which oils I use on a daily basis.
It’s worth noting that oils are a processed food.
I’m always going to recommend that you have an avocado over avocado oil. Oils absolutely can be a part of your pregnancy diet but make sure the majority of your fat content is coming from whole foods and let oils be the occasional additives.
My favorite oils are cold-pressed avocado oil, olive oil, and coconut oil. Each of these oils have a different smoke point meaning they go ba
Oils can go rancid and oxidize. Once this happens, the oxidized oils are no longer healthy, and actually can produce free radicals in the body.
*cold pressed extra virgin oils derived from these foods
half and half
How fats fit onto your plate:
Eating fat with your meals and snacks help you feel full and increase the absorption of vitamins and minerals in vegetables.
Fat will help keep your blood sugar stable by slowing the release of glucose into the bloodstream.
Fats should be a part of every meal you eat. Check out my post showing how to integrate fats onto your pregnancy plate.