There are so many reasons to eat dark, leafy vegetables, but kale is perhaps the healthiest of choices. With its plethora of healthy nutrients and being low in calories, fat, and carbs, it’s a great vegetable for pregnant women and new moms.
Kale has more iron per calorie than beef.
For those trying to conceive, pregnant, or breastfeeding, this means that kale can provide you with these essential nutrients, which help make hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to other cells. Non-pregnant women have a blood volume of about 100ml. By the end of pregnancy, it has increased to 350ml!
There is more calcium per calorie in kale than in milk.
When you’re pregnant, your developing baby needs calcium to build strong bones and teeth; to grow a healthy heart, nerves, and muscles; and to develop a normal heart rhythm and blood-clotting abilities. If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet when you’re pregnant, your baby will draw it from your bones, which may impair your health later on.
Kale provides 10 times more vitamin C than spinach.
Both you and your baby need this vitamin daily – it’s necessary for the body to make collagen, a structural protein that’s a component of cartilage, tendons, bones, and skin. Based on animal studies, some researchers believe that vitamin C deficiencies in newborn babies can impair mental development.
Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron. Try to include a vitamin C-rich food with every meal to get the most iron out of the other foods you eat.
Kale is also high in:
Many studies have shown that women who get 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) daily before conception and during early pregnancy reduce the risk that their baby will be born with a serious neural tube defect (a birth defect involving incomplete development of the brain and spinal cord) by up to 70%.
Pregnant women who have low intakes of carotenoids may be at greater risk of developing preeclampsia than those who have adequate carotenoid intakes, say researchers from New York’s Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center.
Pregnancies that go successfully to term are associated with increased levels of antioxidants, ceruloplasmin and superoxide dismustase early in the first trimester. These changes are thought to offer the cell protection from the damage caused by the increased oxidative stress associated with pregnancy. First-trimester miscarriage is associated with significantly reduced levels of superoxide dismustase.
Since blood volume increases to 350ml during pregnancy, it is important to increase electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and chloride, working together) to keep the extra fluid in the right chemical balance. Pregnant women who suffer from leg cramps are likely low in potassium.