Avocados are generally considered safe to eat during pregnancy! Even better, avocados are full of healthy nutrients, so consuming them benefits both the pregnant woman and her baby.
Avocado in Pregnancy
Avocados contain many nutrients and can be a great addition to a well-rounded, nutrient-dense diet during pregnancy.
Nutrients in avocado that are particularly important for pregnant women:
- Healthy fats
- Vitamins K, E, and vitamin C
However, we should not ignore the fact that avocados are high in calories and fat! Thus pregnant women should consume them in moderation, only as a part of a balanced diet.
Let’s see how eating avocado can help keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy.
Avocado benefits for pregnant women and babies
1. Healthy fats in avocados are great for better baby growth
Pregnant women need extra calories for the growth of the fetus. For a higher calorie intake, you have to eat more fats. However, lots of them are considered bad for overall health.
Luckily avocados are a good source of unsaturated fats, which are considered healthy fats! So, eating food like avocado is a healthy way to gain those extra calories you need during pregnancy!
Not to mention that unsaturated fats contribute to the growth and proper development of your baby’s brain, which is around 60% fat.
Healthy fats in avocados may also help regulate blood sugar levels, improve heart health, and ease pregnancy insomnia.
2. Avocados reduce the risk of excessive weight gain during pregnancy
While you need more calories, you shouldn’t overdo it, as this can lead to excessive weight gain. Also, as already said above, you have to intake healthy calories.
Healthy fats and the rich fiber content in avocados keep you full longer. Thus avocado helps you avoid overeating. Fiber-rich foods also tend to be less calorie-dense; therefore, you can eat more for the same calorie intake.
Furthermore, as fibers in avocados slow down sugar absorption into the bloodstream, they prevent spikes in insulin levels. Eating avocados during pregnancy will help you regulate blood sugar so it won’t be high. The body is more likely to store unhealthy fat when insulin levels are high!
Fibers also don’t digest by the body, so they not only lower the risk of weight gain but also prevent constipation, which I will describe below.
3. Fibers in avocados prevent constipation
Avocados are high in fiber, with roughly 6-7 grams per medium-sized fruit. Therefore, pregnant women can meet their increased fiber needs by eating a diet high in fiber-rich foods like avocados.
Fiber boosts regular bowel movements and can help prevent constipation, which is common during pregnancy.
Fiber also aids in preventing hemorrhoids, another frequent problem during pregnancy.
4. Iron in avocados prevents anemia
Iron deficiency is a common pregnancy problem, which can lead to anemia.
Your body can’t produce enough hemoglobin for red blood cells without adequate iron. Consequently, the body does not produce enough healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen to tissues. And the lack of red blood cells is called anemia.
Avocados contain iron. Therefore, including them in a balanced pregnancy diet can help ensure the body has adequate iron to prevent anemia.
5. Avocados are rich in potassium, which reduces the risk of preeclampsia
The rich potassium levels in the avocado reduce blood pressure, thus helping lower the chance of preeclampsia.
Potassium also regulates fluid balance, which is crucial for the proper functioning of the muscles and nerves.
6. Avocados help reach increased vitamin needs during pregnancy
Avocados are rich in Vitamins K, E, C, and B, which are all important for maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
- Vitamin K supports the development of the baby’s blood clotting system and bone health. So the body’s need for this vitamin increases during pregnancy. Adequate vitamin K intake can also help prevent excessive bleeding during childbirth.
- Vitamin E is an essential antioxidant for pregnant women as it helps to protect cells from damage. It also supports the growth and development of the baby.
- Avocados are also a good source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which helps to support the immune system and aids in the absorption of iron from plant-based foods. Vitamin C also supports collagen formation. Collagen is essential for developing the baby’s bones, skin, and connective tissue.
- Vitamine B (folate) is essential for healthy fetal development. Folate helps to prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, such as neural tube defects. Adequate folate intake is crucial during the early weeks of pregnancy when the neural tube forms. One medium-sized avocado contains approximately 30% of pregnant women’s recommended daily folate intake.
7. Minerals in avocados may relieve leg cramps
Avocados are high in potassium and magnesium, both essential for muscle and nerve function.
Decreased amounts of these minerals can cause muscular cramps, especially in the legs.
8. Eating avocados helps maintain safe cholesterol levels
As already said above, avocados are high in unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats reduce the bad LDL cholesterol and increase the good HDL cholesterol.
Avocados also contain beta-sitosterol. This is a plant sterol that helps reduce high cholesterol levels.
9. Eating avocados helps maintain safe sugar levels
Eating avocados during pregnancy will help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels in several ways:
- Avocados have a low glycemic index (GI), which tells how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. Food with a low GI digests slowly and does not cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels.
- Avocados contain little carbs, which are sugar molecules that cause blood sugar levels to rise.
- Avocados are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can increase insulin sensitivity and decrease inflammation, resulting in healthy blood sugar levels.
- Avocados are high in fiber, so eating them slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and prevents spikes in blood sugar levels.
10. Eating avocados during pregnancy boosts fetal development
Avocados can help with fetal development due to their high choline content. Choline is an essential nutrient for fetal development, so its needs during pregnancy are increased.
One medium avocado contains around 14% of the recommended daily intake for pregnant women, which classifies avocados as choline-rich foods.
Choline is essential for embryonic growth, particularly brain and nervous system development. Enough choline throughout pregnancy can help avoid neural tube abnormalities like spina bifida. Additionally, choline is necessary for muscle and bone growth and can aid in preventing developmental issues.
11. Avocados help in nutrient absorption
Rich in nutrients, avocados can improve your body’s ability to absorb and use the nutrients from other foods you eat.
For instance, avocados contain healthy fats essential for absorbing vitamins from other foods. Vitamin C in avocados aids in converting plant-based iron into a form that the body can absorb and use more efficiently. Carotenoids in avocados promote better nutritional absorption from other foods.
Overall, eating avocados during pregnancy is a good way to increase your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from other food.
Are there any potential risks of eating avocados during pregnancy?
Generally speaking, eating avocado while pregnant is safe. But as always, there are a few things you should be aware of when pregnant.
Potential risks of eating avocado during pregnancy:
1. Avocado may cause allergies in some people:
Consult your doctor about eating avocado during pregnancy if you have a history of food allergies.
Foods like avocados are heavy in calories. Although it is a good source of fat, taking too much of it during pregnancy may cause excessive weight gain.
Avocados are usually treated with pesticides during cultivation. To minimize your pesticide exposure, properly wash the fruit before eating it.
4. Eating unripe avocados may cause digestive problems:
A ripe avocado has a creamy, smooth texture. Consuming an underripe or unripe avocado may result in digestive problems like nausea, vomiting, and upset stomach.
Is avocado good for pregnancy?
Avocado is a healthy food option for most pregnant women. It is a nutrient-dense food high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. In addition, avocado is a good source of potassium, folate, and other essential elements. So, pregnant women and their babies can both benefit from consuming avocados.
Still, avocados should be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced pregnancy diet, just like any other food. To meet your specific nutritional needs, try to eat various nutrient-dense foods!
We recommend speaking with your healthcare provider or a qualified dietitian to ensure your diet meets your increased nutrient needs during pregnancy.