Pregnant women need to eat a healthy and balanced diet with plenty of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. Because all of the nutrients a developing fetus receives comes directly from mom's diet, mothers-to-be should avoid eating foods that contain lots of calories and little nutritional value. Nuts and nut products can be part of a healthy pregnancy diet, but there are a few things that pregnant women should take into account before opening a can of mixed nuts.
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Mixed Nut Nutrition
Nuts are high in a range of healthy nutrients that a developing fetus needs. A typical can of mixed nuts contains a mixture of peanuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, pecans, cashews and hazelnuts. A handful of mixed nuts provides protein and monounsaturated fats, the heart-healthy kind of fat also found in olive oil and avocados. Nuts are also a good source of folic acid, the micronutrient that helps prevent spina bifida and other neural tube defects. The fiber in nuts can also be beneficial for relieving constipation caused by pregnancy.
One concern about eating any type of nuts during pregnancy is the possibility of a nut allergy developing in the fetus. While in the past pregnant women have been advised not to eat nuts or peanuts during pregnancy if they had a family history of nut allergies or other allergic conditions such as asthma, the American Academy of Pediatrics, changed this recommendation in 2008. Now, pregnant women need not avoid nuts, even with a family history of allergies, unless they themselves are allergic.
Despite the change in recommendations by the AAP, research in the July 2008 issue of the American Thoracic Society's "American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine" found that daily consumption of nuts may cause a rise in asthma risk for the fetus. However, this association only existed for women who ate nuts or nut products daily, not for those who only had an occasional handful of nuts.
If you plan on having mixed nuts during pregnancy, choose unsalted varieties. While some sodium is necessary for a healthy pregnancy, too much might affect your blood pressure. High blood pressure in pregnancy can lead to preeclampsia, a dangerous condition that could lead to seizures during labor and delivery. Like any food during pregnancy, mixed nuts should be consumed in moderation and you should make sure you get a good variety of other nutrient-dense foods to meet all of your and your baby's nutritional needs.