While some physicians recommend avoiding peanuts during pregnancy as a means of avoiding peanut allergies in your baby, cashews are in the clear and provide a rich source of vitamins and minerals during this time period. This nut makes a good choice for a nutritious snack for pregnant women, although you may need to avoid cashews if you have certain allergies.
Cashews provide healthy fats and protein that benefit you and your baby. Each ounce of cashews contains 4.3 grams of protein -- a source of amino acids a growing baby needs during development -- as well as 13 grams of healthy fat. This fat provides energy for you and the baby, and also lowers cholesterol and fights heart disease. Each ounce of cashews also provides 9 grams of carbohydrates, including 1 gram of dietary fiber.
The Australian government suggests that pregnant women consume cashews for the iron content. Pregnant women require greater quantities of this mineral because the body produces more blood during pregnancy, and iron helps produce the hemoglobin in your blood. Without enough iron, a pregnant woman may experience fatigue. A severe deficiency can negatively influence fetal growth. A 1-oz. serving of dry-roasted cashews contains 1.7 mg of iron. You require 27 mg each day during pregnancy.
Supplements Vitamin K Intake
Since your body manufactures more blood during pregnancy -- enough to service your body as well as the body of your growing fetus -- it makes sense that you need more vitamin K. This vitamin is critical for ensuring that your blood coagulates correctly. Cashews are a source of vitamin K, containing 9.8 mcg per ounce, a portion of the 90 mcg you should consume daily when you are pregnant. Your physician may encourage greater vitamin K intake to depress potential fetal bleeding that may occur during delivery.
Boosts Copper in Diet
Cashews boost the amount of copper in your diet. This mineral also plays a vital role in blood health as well as the development of fetal blood vessels, nervous system and heart. Include 1 mg of copper in your diet each day for best mother and fetal health; 1 oz. of cashews contains 0.6 mg of the mineral. However, an excessive amount of copper in your diet may trigger headaches, diarrhea and heart problems.
If you are highly allergic to poison oak and related plants, you may experience an allergic reaction to cashews. This nut, when raw, contains small amounts of urushiol, the oil that in poison oak that makes your skin itch. While this does not harm your fetus, it is quite uncomfortable and can rob you of the sleep you need for a healthy pregnancy. Cashews are also high in calories, so even if you're eating for two, you'll want to watch your portion size. Stick to an ounce of cashews as a snack, and reach for unsalted nuts to limit your sodium intake.
- Baby Center; Nutrients You Need To Help Your Baby Grow; December 2009
- Queensland Government; Iron For Pregnant Women; June 2010
- USDA Plants Database: Nuts, Cashew Nuts, Dry Roasted, Without Salt Added
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Iron; June 2009
- "American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology"; Supplementation of Vitamin K in Pregnant Women Receiving Anticonvulsant Therapy Prevents Neonatal Vitamin K Deficiency; M. Cornelissen, et al.; March 1993
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Vitamin K; June 2009