Comprehensive Guide to Beets During Pregnancy: Benefits, Risks, and Recipes

Beets During Pregnancy

You might have mixed feelings about beets during pregnancy. This root vegetable, often magenta, comes in other hues as well. It has an earthy, slightly sweet taste that fits well in salads and smoothies. Beets are not only delicious but also highly nutritious, making them a great food choice during pregnancy. Let’s dive into the benefits of beets, their health impacts, and how you can prepare them.

Benefits of Beets During Pregnancy

Beets are packed with vitamins and minerals, and there are numerous tasty ways to include them in your diet. Their benefits extend to both you and your baby.

1. Maintaining Regularity

During pregnancy, hormonal changes can slow down your digestion, leading to constipation. Foods high in fiber can help keep your digestive system running smoothly. Beets are rich in fiber; just one cup contains almost 4 grams, which is about 14% of the daily recommended intake of 28 grams. Including beets in your diet can help you stay regular.

2. Preventing Neural Tube Birth Defects

Beets are a good source of folate (folic acid), which is crucial during pregnancy. Adequate folate intake can help prevent birth defects such as anencephaly and spina bifida. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that pregnant women consume 400 micrograms of folate or folic acid daily. While it’s hard to get enough folate from food alone, eating beets alongside a prenatal vitamin can help meet this requirement.

3. Combatting Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency anemia is common during pregnancy and can cause fatigue and weakness. Doctors recommend 30 to 60 milligrams of iron daily for pregnant women. While beets don’t contain as much iron as meat, they are a valuable plant-based source of iron, especially for vegans and vegetarians.

4. Preventing Fetal Growth Restrictions

Research funded by Tommy’s, a UK pregnancy and baby charity, is exploring whether beets can help prevent fetal growth restrictions. Problems with the placenta often cause slow fetal growth. The nitrates in beets may improve blood flow through the placenta, potentially supporting better growth. More research is needed to confirm these benefits.

5. Reducing the Risk of Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia, characterized by high blood pressure during pregnancy, is a serious condition. A 2018 study examined whether beetroot juice, rich in nitrates, could lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of preeclampsia. While beetroot juice alone didn’t significantly lower blood pressure, a 2020 study on pregnant mice showed promising results, with reduced blood pressure and improved vascular health. More human studies are needed to fully understand this potential benefit.

6. Managing Weight

The idea of “eating for two” can be misleading during pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests that pregnant women in their second trimester should consume an extra 340 calories per day if carrying one baby, and 600 calories per day if carrying twins. Beets are a great addition to your diet because they are low in calories (70 calories per cup), high in fiber, folate, manganese, iron, and vitamin C, and mostly water (87%).

Side Effects and Risks

Eating beets during pregnancy is generally safe, but there are a few things to be aware of:

1. Beeturia

Beets can cause your urine and stool to turn pink or red, a condition known as beeturia. This occurs in about 14% of people and is usually harmless, though it can be alarming. If this happens frequently, consult your doctor as it might indicate an iron deficiency or other health issues.

2. High Sugar Content

Beets contain more sugar than many other vegetables, so it’s best to consume them in moderation, just like any other food.

3. Kidney Stones

If you are prone to kidney stones, consult your doctor before eating beets. They contain oxalate, which can contribute to stone formation. However, eating beets in moderation is generally not a problem.

Simple Preparations

Beets During Pregnancy

You can find beets in any grocery store or farmers’ market. They might look dirty and intimidating at first, but with a little cleaning and trimming, they are easy to prepare.

1. Roasting

To roast beets, preheat your oven to 400°F. Clean the beets and place them on foil or in a baking dish. Bake for 45 to 90 minutes, depending on the number of beets. Once they are done, let them cool, then peel off the skins before slicing and serving.

2. Microwaving

If you prefer a quicker method, you can microwave beets. Place two or three small beets in a microwave-safe dish with a little water. Heat on high for 8 to 15 minutes until they are tender. Be cautious when removing them to avoid burns.

3. Juicing

With a juicer, you can make a refreshing beet juice by combining a small beetroot with apples or oranges. Alternatively, mix 100% apple or orange juice with beet juice.

4. Canned Beets

For convenience, you can use canned beets. Rinse them well or choose low-sodium options to avoid excess salt. You can also find pre-cooked beets in the produce section of some stores. They are ready to eat or can be added to salads, stir-fries, or soups.

5. Smoothies

Beets can be a tasty addition to smoothies. Try adding fresh or thawed beets to your favorite fruit and vegetable blend. Here’s a simple smoothie recipe from Megan Gilmore of Detoxinista:

1/2 cup chopped beets (peeled and cut into half-inch pieces)

1/2 cup orange juice

1 frozen banana

1/2 cup water

1 cup frozen berries

Blend until smooth and creamy.

Conclusion

According to ACOG, most pregnant women should aim to gain a healthy amount of weight, which varies based on pre-pregnancy weight. Consuming a variety of whole foods, including beets, can help you achieve your weight and nutrition goals during pregnancy. Be sure to fill half your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables at each meal. If you have any questions about your diet during pregnancy, consult your doctor for personalized advice.

FAQ

Q1: Are beets safe to eat during pregnancy?

A1: Yes, beets are safe to eat during pregnancy and provide many health benefits. However, consume them in moderation due to their sugar content and consult your doctor if you have any concerns.

Q2: Can eating beets cause any side effects?

A2: Eating beets can cause beeturia, which turns urine and stool pink or red. This is usually harmless but can be alarming. Beets also contain oxalate, which can contribute to kidney stones in susceptible individuals.

Q3: How can I include beets in my diet during pregnancy?

A3: Beets can be roasted, microwaved, juiced, used in smoothies, or eaten canned. They are versatile and can be added to salads, stir-fries, soups, or enjoyed on their own.

Q4: How much folate do I need during pregnancy, and can beets help?

A4: The CDC recommends 400 micrograms of folate or folic acid daily for pregnant women. Beets are a good source of folate, but it’s challenging to get enough from food alone. A prenatal vitamin can help meet this requirement.

Q5: Do beets help with iron deficiency during pregnancy?

A5: Beets are a valuable plant-based source of iron, especially for vegans and vegetarians. However, they don’t contain as much iron as meat, so it’s important to include other iron-rich foods and supplements if necessary.

Read Also

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Nitrate-Rich Beetroots: Unlocking the Health Benefits and Nutritional Power of This Vibrant Root Vegetable

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