Key Nutrients You Need Now
Folate: It’s critical for preventing neural-tube defects and helping your body make new cells. At the same time, Folate may also help reduce the risk of heart disease and if you eat foods such as chickpeas, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, avocados, orange juice, and fortified whole grains it can help meet your daily 400-microgram requirement.
Phytonutrients: “These compounds contain antioxidants, which slow the aging process, ward off heart disease, and prevent changes in DNA, potentially preventing the development of cancer,” says Bonci. While phytonutrients come from plants, dark chocolate, red wine, and coffee are highest in them.
Iron: Not enough leaves you physically drained and messes with your mental muscle. Also, believe the researchers at Penn State University in the USA who found that people who were deficient in the mineral took longer and performed worse on cognitive tasks than those who had normal levels of iron. Get your daily dose of 18 milligrams from foods such as clams, lean beef, fortified breakfast cereal, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, and skinless poultry.
What should I be eating?
Calcium-rich foods – To ensure you’re getting the required amount of calcium, you need to eat three servings from the dairy group each day (1 serving = 200ml milk, one small pot yogurt, 30g cheese). If you’re pregnant there are some dairy foods you should avoid including unpasteurised milks, soft cheeses and soft blue cheese – this includes products made from unpasteurised goat and sheep’s milk. If you don’t eat dairy, try calcium rich plant products such as kale, broccoli, spinach, beans and fortified soy products such as tofu. Other useful food sources include canned fish with bones, such as salmon and sardines.
Wholegrains – Make time for breakfast, and do it everyday. At the same time, try fortified wholegrain cereals or porridge oats with chopped fruit or a handful of nuts and seeds like flaxseeds. A proper breakfast will provide fibre and several key vitamins.
Low salt – Official guidelines suggest that adults should consume no more than 6g salt per day (less for children). Check information on the back of the pack before you buy ready meals or sandwiches – for a main meal you should aim to eat no more than 2.5g salt. Use alternative seasonings when cooking – garlic, black pepper, chilli, lemon juice, fresh herbs and spices. Taste before you season with salt.
Folate-rich foods – Folate (also known as folic acid or vitamin B9) is of critical importance both before and after conception in protecting your baby against neural tube defects and cleft palate. Good sources of folate include fortified breakfast cereals (which also include iron), dark green leafy vegetables and oranges.
Starting a family? Prior to conception and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the Department of Healh recommends you supplement with 400mcg of folic acid daily. Pregnant and breast-feeding mums should also consider a 10mcg supplement of vitamin D daily.
Your 30-Something Healthy Meal Plan
- Whole wheat English muffin topped with 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter and 1/2 small sliced banana
- 1 cup calcium and vitamin D-fortified orange juice
Healthy Morning Snack
- It is a good idea to have 1/2 cup Cheerios with 1/2 cup 1-percent or nonfat milk
- You can try a curried shrimp salad (boil 10 shrimp and mix with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise and 1 teaspoon curry powder) in a whole wheat pita
- It can be nice to try 1 cup watermelon chunks
Afternoon Healthy Snack
- 6-ounce container light yogurt with 1/2 cup raspberries
- Chickpea salad (toss 1/2 cup canned, drained chickpeas with 1 tablespoon Italian dressing)
- 4 ounces lean flank steak, grilled or broiled, topped with 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
- 2 cups baby spinach sauteed in 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 medium baked sweet potato
Healthy Evening Treat
- 1 ounce dark chocolate
Nutrition info for the day – This is what your goal should be:
1,868 calories, 94g protein, 64g fat (17g sat), 243g carbs, 34g fiber