During pregnancy, you generally need a little more than the recommended daily allowance of vitamins and nutrients to make sure your baby grows healthy and strong. This doesn't mean extra servings of junk food, however. While your child grows, you need to feed yourself nutritious meals. Tomatoes are just one of the many fresh and healthy foods you should snack on while pregnant.
Vitamin C and Iron
Tomatoes are a source of vitamin C, one of the many essential nutrients you need during pregnancy to keep yourself and your baby healthy. Vitamin C helps form healthy bones, teeth and gums. The vitamin also assists in the absorption of iron, which is of special concern during pregnancy, as pregnant women generally have higher iron needs. While your doctor might recommend additional iron supplements during pregnancy, eating tomatoes rich in vitamin C can help your body better absorb the iron you take in.
Tomatoes contain high amounts of lycopene, an antioxidant that can protect against cell damage. The National Institutes of Health notes that it's safe for pregnant women to eat foods that contain lycopene, though the safety of lycopene supplements for pregnant women has not been adequately studied. If you're pregnant, enjoy the benefits of this antioxidant, as it's naturally found in tomatoes, and steer clear of lycopene supplements.
In 2007, plant biochemists from the University of Florida genetically engineered tomatoes that contained folate, an essential vitamin for a healthy pregnancy. Folate deficiencies during pregnancy might cause developmental problems such as slow growth rates and birth defects, and all pregnant women are advised to make sure they're getting proper amounts of this nutrient. Usually found in spinach and other leafy green vegetables, genetic engineering might soon make tomatoes a valuable source of folate. Before these modified tomatoes can win approval from the FDA, however, more tests must be done, and it might take years before you'll see folate-laden tomatoes in your local supermarket.
While tomatoes can provide nutritional value during pregnancy, they can also cause discomfort for some pregnant women. During the second half of pregnancy, heartburn becomes a concern for some women, as the hormone progesterone relaxes the valve separating your esophagus from your stomach, causing acid reflux and the burning feeling of heartburn. Acidic foods such as tomatoes might exacerbate this problem for some women and make heartburn worse. If you're experiencing heartburn during pregnancy, cut back on your tomato consumption and avoid other foods that cause gastrointestinal problems.
- Kids Health: A Nutrition Primer for Expectant Mothers
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Iron and Iron Deficiency
- MedlinePlus: Lycopene
- EurekAlert; "Scientists Genetically Engineer Tomatoes With Enhanced Folate Content"; National Science Foundation; March 2007
- Baby Center; "Heartburn During Pregnancy"; February 2001