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Diet for Pregnancy Induced Hypertension

author image Chelsea Flahive, RDN, LD
Chelsea Flahive is a registered dietitian nutritionist and licensed dietitian with a passion for health and wellness, weight management and disease prevention. She received a Bachelor of Science in human nutrition, foods and exercise from Virginia Tech and completed her dietetic internship through the University of Delaware. Flahive is completing a certificate of training in weight management through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Diet for Pregnancy Induced Hypertension
Pregnancy-induced hypertension is normally diagnosed after week 20 of pregnancy. Photo Credit: Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) occurs in 10 percent of pregnancies and can result in preterm delivery and low-birth-weight infants. There are three types of PIH: gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. Gestational hypertension is an abnormal rise in blood pressure developing after the 20th week of pregnancy, and if it is not well monitored, it can progress to pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. Proper diet will ensure the growth of your baby and may prevent progression of PIH.

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Calcium Benefits

Calcium is a mineral often found in dairy foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese. It plays a large role in the body, helping to form and maintain bones and teeth as well as helping your heart maintain a normal beat. Calcium also aids the body in blood clotting, sending and receiving nerve signals and releasing hormones. A pregnant woman needs 1,300 milligrams of calcium per day to develop the baby’s bones and maintain her body’s functions. According to a study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2000, calcium supplementation of 1,000 milligrams per day significantly lowers the diastolic blood pressure in women diagnosed with PIH. Calcium supplementation during pregnancy may also reduce the risk for developing gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia. Talk with your doctor or dietitian before adding supplements to your diet.

Sodium Guidelines

Unless you have been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, there is no need to treat gestational hypertension with a low-sodium diet. Following a sodium-restricted diet is not effective in treating or preventing mild pregnancy-induced hypertension. If you are experiencing edema, however, limiting your salt intake to 2 grams per day may help with the swelling.

Calories, Carbs, Protein and Fat

It is important to maintain a balanced diet with adequate calories and protein throughout your pregnancy. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that for women of normal weight, daily caloric requirements should increase by 350 calories during the second trimester and by 500 calories during the third trimester. Carbohydrates should consist of 50 percent to 65 percent of total calories. Aim for 71 grams of protein per day, or 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. Fat should make up the remaining 20 percent to 30 percent of your daily calories.

Foods to Avoid

During pregnancy, women are more susceptible to food-borne illness. Stay clear of foods that may be contaminated with Listeria, such as soft cheeses including brie, feta and Mexican soft cheese and deli meats, as Listeria is a bacteria that may cause fetal death or premature labor. Avoid raw or undercooked eggs, meat, poultry and fish to prevent salmonella. Do not consume fish that is high in mercury such as shark, swordfish and mackerel because mercury can harm the baby's developing nervous system. Unpasteurized juices and raw sprouts can also cause a food-borne illness.

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