Tips for making healthy smoothies during pregnancy
The ultimate nutrition during pregnancy
Written by: Jamie Johnson, RDN, LDN
Reviewed by: Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LDN, CLEC, CPT
Nutrition during pregnancy is important, but busy lifestyles, unique taste preferences, and pesky pregnancy symptoms like nausea and heartburn can make it hard to eat nutritiously when you are “eating for two”. You’re probably familiar with some of the foods you need to avoid while pregnant – think unpasteurized cheeses and undercooked meats. But along with focusing on what not to eat, there are certain nutrients that pregnant people need more of during those 9 months that can aid in a healthy pregnancy. Some of these key nutrients, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, are protein, folic acid, iron, choline, and Omega 3 fatty acids. While taking in enough of these nutrients sounds easy enough in theory, adding in nausea, fatigue, cravings, and food aversions can be tough to craft the perfect prenatal meal. Thankfully, smoothies are available to save the day.
Tasty and healthy smoothies for pregnancy are a great option to fill potential nutrition gaps when people are attempting to eat nutritious food during this stage of life (or really, anytime!). Here are tenants of a tasty and healthy smoothie recipe for pregnancy.
Protein for satiety and staying power
Have you ever felt hungry soon after eating a meal or snack? That’s probably because it did not have much protein, which helps to keep us full by taking a longer time to digest. Furthermore, protein needs increase throughout pregnancy to help with the growth and development of the baby’s tissues and organs; making sure that protein is found in your concoction is key. Protein sources that can easily be added to smoothies are certain milks (like dairy milks or almond milk with added protein), Greek yogurt, nut butters, hemp seeds and protein powder.
Fiber for satiety
Smoothies that support your pregnancy should contain fiber, or undigestible carbohydrates that give you some staying power (and may help with some constipation relief too!). Fiber provides fullness, since it takes a longer time to digest. And additionally, this nutrient can offer discomfort relief if a pregnant person is feeling a bit “backed up” by keeping things running regularly. To make sure your smoothie contains fiber, add oats, fruits (preferably with skin), vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds to give your combo a little boost.
Vitamins and minerals - we don't want empty calories
A pregnancy smoothie should contain key vitamins and minerals, especially those that are needed in higher amounts during this time. Iron is an important nutrient needed to deliver oxygen to baby and to support the pregnant person’s increasing blood supply. So, add some dates or a scoop of chia seeds in your smoothie for a boost of this important mineral in a delicious way. Adding a handful of spinach for folate, which plays a role in baby’s brain and spine health, is another way to give your smoothie some extra benefits. Another brain boosting nutrient, choline, is one that most pregnant (and lactating!) people often lack in their diets, so look for smoothies with soymilk, yogurt, peanut butter, and even cauliflower. If you are craving something sweet, opt for foods with a low glycemic index and no added sugar, but still provide a nutritious punch, such as dates.
Another pillar of smoothies good for pregnancy is making sure that it contains some healthy fats. Smoothies that contain healthy fats, especially Omega 3 fatty acids, will be a good choice for your pregnancy too, since these fats support baby brain growth and development. Fats also help with the fullness factor so you won’t feel hungry shortly after your smoothie is enjoyed. Include avocados, nut butters, chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flaxseeds, and walnuts for a good helping of healthy fat.
The Perfect Combos For Pregnancy-Supporting Smoothies
When evaluating which foods belong in your blender, it is easy to become overwhelmed with all of the tips and advice you may read on the internet. But the formula is consistent: combine foods that contain some protein, healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins/minerals. And while you can include trendy ingredients, we like to make sure they were researched and studied during pregnancy. Sometimes, your best bet is to stick with whole fruits and veggies (fresh or frozen!) and other whole ingredients.
Bottom line? Pregnancy-friendly smoothies don’t have to be fussy or overly complicated, but a combo of protein, fat, fiber, and nutrient-dense foods like fruits and veggies is what you need to keep your body going in a super-convenient and delicious way.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for educational purposes only, and does not substitute for medical advice. Always consult a medical professional or healthcare provider related to medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.
About our Authors
This article was written by Jamie Johnson. Jamie is a registered dietitian nutritionist, freelance health writer, recipe developer and mom with a passion for prenatal and pediatric nutrition. You can learn more about Jamie at www.ingrainingnutrition.com or follow her on Instagram at @ingrainingnutrition. Additionally, Lauren Manaker medically reviewed this article. Lauren is the Leto Foods Nutrition Advisor. Lauren is an award-winning registered dietitian nutritionist, certified lactation educator-counselor, and book author. She specializes in women's health and holds a position on the executive committee of the Women's Health DPG of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Lauren earned nutrition degrees from the University of Florida, Rush University, and University of California, San Diego. Follow her at @LaurenLovesNutrition on Instagram.