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5 superfoods for breastfeeding

Best foods for pregnancy in a basketBreastfeeding is an extremely nutritionally demanding time for mother and baby.

Certain nutrients become more important during this time to support your baby’s rapid growth, particularly their brain development (as they adjust to and absorb all the new stimuli) as well as their bones and muscles.

The most important nutrients for brain development are choline and iodine. Other important nutrients include protein, iron, folate and B vitamins. A healthy supply of these essential nutrients helps give your precious baby the best start in life and helps keep up your energy!

Bones and muscles are also rapidly growing at this stage in life so your demand for calcium, vitamin D and magnesium is also enhanced. Fortunately for your baby (but unfortunately for you!) if you don’t have sufficient supply of these essential nutrients, your baby can draw these directly from your bones, making you more prone to osteoporosis and brittle bones and well as dental issues.

One of the best ways to help ensure a good balance of these important nutrients is to take a good prenatal vitamin, including choline and iodine, each day as well as eating a variety of ‘superfoods’. These foods basically have a high nutrient-to-calorie profile, so you’re maximizing the nutrition in every bite!

The top foods I’m including in my diet while breastfeeding my nearly 1-year-old are:

Eggs

Particularly the yolks of eggs are extremely rich in choline, which is important for learning, memory and brain development. Research shows that 90% of women aren’t reaching their target levels of 550mg per day for boost your intake of this vital nutrient. [1]

Eggs are also a great source of protein, omega 3, biotin and B vitamins for healthy skin and energy. A healthy intake of biotin can help reduce cradle cap in infants. Aim for organic, free range eggs where possible as these will provide the richest nutrient content.

Salmon

Salmon is a rich source of protein, vitamin B12 and vitamin D to help support bone and muscle strength and growth. This tasty superfood also provides the potent nutritional antioxidant, selenium as well as omega 3 fatty acids. This makes it great for skin and hair health, so is especially good if you’re suffering from dry skin or hair loss, which can be common when breastfeeding.

Kale

Kale is the new kid on the block when it comes to ‘superfoods’. It’s being added to juices, used in salads and eaten by celebs by the bucket load! And for good reason. It’s a rich source of folate, B vitamins, calcium and vitamin D as well as the potent antioxidant nutrients vitamin A and vitamin C. Kale also provides omega 3 fatty acids and choline to help support brain health.

Broccoli

With a similar ‘gold standard’ nutrient profile as kale, broccoli is definitely worthy of its ‘superfood’ title. Rich in vitamin C, folate, B vitamins, choline, zinc, calcium and the nutritional antioxidants selenium and vitamin A. Broccoli is also naturally low GI and is a rich source of dietary chromium to further support healthy, balanced blood sugar levels to reduce cravings.

Sesame seeds

I love these versatile little seeds and they pack a powerful nutrient punch. Full of calcium and magnesium for strong bone growth plus zinc, iron and B vitamins for energy. These simple nutritious seeds can be sprinkled over salads, added to sandwiches or pureed in a tahnini spread.

 

1 Andrea Hill. U of A researchers strive to increase awareness of forgotten essential nutrient. University of Alberta News August 5, 2011

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