Looking to boost your prenatal diet but haven’t a clue where to start? You’re not alone. When my doctor asked at my first prenatal appointment how my diet was going, I didn’t want to reveal the truth—doughnut for breakfast, burger for lunch, pizza for dinner (hey, old college habits die hard!)—so, I lied. But I left that appointment knowing it was time to do something about my horrible, nary-a-vegetable-in-sight eating habits for the sake of my unborn baby.
When it comes to eating healthily, you’re probably familiar with the basics. “There are really no surprises here. All fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients, including vitamins and antioxidants,” says Brittany Cochran, MS, RD, dietitian at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Virginia. “The more color in your diet, the healthier it is.” To ensure you’re packing the right nutritional punch, take a closer look at the benefits of ROY G BIV.
What you already know: These aren’t just for topping off your ice cream, the list of the benefits of cherries is long: antioxidants, melatonin, beta-carotene, vitamins A, C and E, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate and more.
What you didn’t expect: These sweet fruits aid in digestion and are packed with fierce amounts of fiber.
What you already know: These lovely ladies come packed with antioxidants and vitamins A, C and E, and just so happen to be a great source of folic acid.
What you didn’t expect: Raspberries are full of lutein, a super food known for promoting eye health that’s commonly found in green and yellow produce.
What you already know: How many times did you hear your mom say, “Make sure to eat your rhubarb!”? Probably not many— but she should have. This powerhouse comes with a ton of vitamin K, lutein and an array of antioxidants.
What you didn’t expect: Rhubarb is brewing with calcium. “Calcium is super important for pregnant moms, [whose bodies] must provide enough calcium for the baby’s bones to develop properly,” says Cochran.
What you already know: For starters, it’s delicious. But it also comes with the added bonus of flavonoids, antioxidants and a hefty dose of vitamin C.
What you didn’t expect: This juicy snack is teeming with lycopene, a carotenoid some researchers suspect may play a role in reducing risk of cancer, cardio-vascular disease and macular degeneration.
What you already know: Carrots are packed with beta-carotene, vitamin A, alpha-carotene and antioxidants.
What you didn’t expect: Carrots contain falcarinol, a natural pesticide that helps protect its roots from fungal disease. Preliminary studies link the natural toxin to cancer prevention.
What you already know: There’s a lot to love about this common holiday guest, including beta-carotene, fiber, carotenoids and phytosterols.
What you didn’t expect: Turkey isn’t the only thing making you snooze on Thanks-giving—pumpkin also contains tryptophan. Eat up to enjoy some prebaby naptime.
What you already know: Because they’re packed with potassium, iron and vitamins A and C, these tangy treats are known to make you go, go, go.
What you didn’t expect: The retinol found in apricots helps cells replenish themselves.
What you already know: The starchy root vegetables have hefty doses of magnesium and vitamins A, B6, and C.
What you didn’t expect: No matter how you pronounce it, this popular potato packs a ton of iron.
What you already know: You’re not likely to eat these straight, but squirt- ing lemon in your water or on your salad adds vitamins A, B, C and K, zinc, riboflavin, mineral manganese, flavonoids and antioxidants.
What you didn’t expect: Pucker up! These sour fruits contain citric acid, a natural preservative that aids in digestion and may help dissolve kidney stones.
What you already know: Bananas are great for the little monkey in your tummy. They’re packed with vitamins, healthy carbohydrates, iron and potassium.
What you didn’t expect: These inexpensive eats are full of phosphorus, a mineral that’s crucial to the formation of bones and teeth, as well as integral to every cell’s ability to replenish.
What you already know: Behind their tough exterior, these tart, tropical fruits are full of vitamins A and C, calcium, phosphorus and potassium.
What you didn’t expect: Pineapples contain bromelain, an enzyme that aids in the digestion of protein.
What you already know: Plump, hearty kernels are chock-full of vitamin C, niacin and insoluble fiber.
What you didn’t expect: Corn can help you meet the recommended 400-milligram daily allowance for folic acid, which is crucial to the development of your baby’s nervous system.
What you already know: You can bank on your babe gleaning folate, potassium, osteocalcin, and vitamins A and K from this delicious vegetable.
What you didn’t expect: Asparagus contains glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that acts as a natural detoxifier for your system.
What you already know: This green goodie boasts the three F’s: fiber, folate and fat (the healthy kind!).
What you didn’t expect: Oleic acid is a healthy monounsaturated fat that’s been known to lower cholesterol and fight inflammation. (It’s also found in olives, olive oil and nuts.)
What you already know: Popeye downed his spinach for a reason! It contains beta-carotene, lutein, vitamins C and E, carotenoids, iron, manganese and sodium.
What you didn’t expect: Lipoic acid is a mighty antioxidant found in spinach that’s been shown to help break down free radicals that cause mutations in cells.
BLUE, INDIGO, VIOLET
What you already know: In spite of their size, these tiny berries bring a ton of nutrients to the table, including phytochemicals, catechins, ellagic acid and fiber.
What you didn’t expect: Blackberries contain salicylic acid, which helps prevent heart disease.
What you already know: These violet fruits boast big benefits like vitamins C, K and A, tryptophan and fiber.
What you didn’t expect: Plums are bursting with potassium, which aids in digestion and helps carry oxygen to the brain.
What you already know: Most commonly found in your lunch salad, beets boast potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron, vitamins A, B and C, betacyanin, tryptophan, folic acid, iron and betaine.
What you didn’t expect: Beta-carotene (an unusual find for a purple veggie!) is an antioxidant that protects against free radicals; your body can also convert it to vitamin A.