Making sure your diet stays healthy is vital to your baby's growth. Eating nutrient-rich foods such as bananas can help you manage several aspects of your pregnancy. As long as you don't suffer any banana-related allergies, munch on one for breakfast, bring a couple along during the workday and slice them up for dessert. They're jam-packed with benefits for you and your baby.
All of the B-vitamins play a crucial role in your baby's development, but bananas are loaded with vitamin B6. Your baby's central nervous system relies on vitamin B6 to coordinate activity during his development and help with the biosynthesis of the neurotransmitters GABA, dopamine and serotonin. While your baby's central nervous system organizes this growth, vitamin B6 from bananas helps both of you transmit oxygen to the tissues through your hemoglobin. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin B6 for pregnant women is 1.9 milligrams. One medium banana contains 0.4 milligrams, or 21 percent of your RDA.
Potassium is excellent for pregnant women. You should consume at least 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily. You'll get 9 percent of your recommended daily allowance from eating one medium banana. This important mineral mitigates some of the unpleasant side effects associated with pregnancy. It may reduce the frequency or severity of painful leg cramps and help prevent or take down natural swelling. Beware of rapid swelling, though -- this could be preeclampsia, which requires a timely diagnosis and treatment from your physician.
Women who have to deal with diarrhea instead of -- or in addition to -- morning sickness can benefit from bananas. Bananas are a fibrous fruit and contain both gum fiber and pectin, a soluble fiber also found in apples. These fibers help relieve diarrhea by absorbing excess water in your body. The potassium in bananas can also help with the intestinal cramping that sometimes accompanies diarrhea.
So many superstitions abound about how to guarantee a baby boy or girl. While there is no actual guarantee, scientists at Britain's Oxford and Exeter Universities studied nearly 750 women who were pregnant for the first time, seeking a link between diet and a baby's gender. High levels of potassium, sodium and calcium all correlated with birthing baby boys. A bowl of cereal in the morning with calcium-rich milk and potassium from sliced bananas may make a difference.
Despite all the benefits of bananas, a red flag of caution exists. Bananas contain chitinase, which is a major allergen associated with the latex-fruit syndrome. People who are allergic to latex need to avoid fruits that contain chitinase. In addition to bananas, this group includes avocados, kiwi fruit and chestnuts. If you've experienced latex sensitivity or an intolerance to other foods in the group, check with your doctor before downing any bananas.
- Cleveland Clinic: Good Nutrition During Pregnancy for You and Your Baby
- CNN Health; Study Shows Bananas Make Baby Boys; April 2008
- American Pregnancy Association: Swelling During Pregnancy
- Parenting Weekly: Go Bananas
- Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology; Class I Chitinases; July 2000
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin B6
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Bananas, Raw
- Linus Pauling Institute: Potassium
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: Latex Allergy: Tips to Remember