Warm and comforting, soup is the perfect pregnancy meal. Canned soups in your grocery store aisles can be filled with fat, sugar, sodium and other ingredients that aren't good for you and baby. Packaged soups also tend to be low in nutrients. With a little prep, you can make healthy soups at home rich in the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy.
Vital Nutrients During Pregnancy
According to the American Pregnancy Association, the most important nutrients for expectant mothers are protein; vitamins A, E, D and C; thiamin; riboflavin; vitamins B6 and B12; folate; calcium; iron; and zinc. Each of these nutrients provides benefits related to the growth and development of your baby and keeps you healthy during pregnancy.
Here's a rundown of nutrient benefits with amounts pregnant women need daily:
Protein contains the amino acids that build all the tissues of the body.
71 g* Vitamin A aids the growth of bones and teeth.
770 mcg* Vitamin D works with calcium to support bone health.
15 mcg* Vitamin C boosts the immune system and helps the body absorb iron.
85 mg* Vitamin E aids red blood cell formation.
15 mg* Thiamin helps create energy from food and regulates the nervous system.
1.4 mg* Riboflavin provides energy and contributes to healthy skin and eyesight.
1.4 mg* Niacin promotes healthy skin and digestion.
18 mg* Vitamin B12 aids DNA synthesis and may prevent neural tube defects.
2.6 mcg* Vitamin B6 helps morning sickness and red blood cell formation.
1.9 mcg* Folate supports the placenta and prevents birth defects, including spina bifida.
600 mcg* Calcium builds healthy bones and teeth, supports nerve function and prevents blood clots.
1,000 mg* Iron builds healthy blood and protects against anemia, low birth weight and premature birth.
27 mg* Zinc aids in the production of insulin and enzymes.
Read more: Is Canned Soup Healthy?
List of Healthy Ingredients
If you choose the right ingredients for your soup, one bowl can help you meet the daily requirements for many of these nutrients. Examples of healthy ingredients and their nutrients include:
- 3 ounces of tofu: 6 g of protein.
- 1 medium carrot: 509 mcg of vitamin A.
- 1/2 cup boiled spinach: 122 mg of calcium, 3 mg of iron, .2 mg of riboflavin, 131 mg of folate and 472 mcg of vitamin A.
- 1/2 cup cooked sweet potato: 1.2 mg of iron, 21 mg of vitamin C, .9 mg of B6, 1.5 mg of vitamin E and 1,291 mcg of vitamin A.
- 1/2 cup brown rice: 2.5 mg of niacin.
- 1/2 cup chopped chicken breast: 20 g of protein, 1.5 mg of zinc and 6.5 mg of niacin.
- 1/2 cup boiled white beans: <ahref="https: ndb.nal.usda.gov="" ndb="" foods="" show="" 16046?man="&lfacet=&count=&max=25&qlookup=Beans%2C+small+white%2C+mature+seeds%2C+cooked%2C+boiled%2C+without+salt&offset=&sort=default&format=Abridged&reportfmt=other&rptfrm=&ndbno=&nutrient1=&nutrient2=&nutrient3=&subset=&totCount=&measureby=&Qv=1&Q330959=.5&Qv=1&Q330959=1""> </ahref="https:>8 g of protein, 2.5 mg of iron and 123 mg of folate.
Other nutritious soup ingredients include kale, cabbage, peas, broccoli, beets, chickpeas, zucchini, chickpeas, okra, leeks, onion and tomatoes.
Soup Recipe Ideas
Start with your base. Using vegetable and chicken broths is easy and flavorful. Bone broth is another popular addition to soups, and you can also try light coconut milk for a creamy base. Water also makes a fine soup base when you add lots of herbs, spices and veggies.
Choose a source of protein such as tofu, chicken or beans, then choose your vegetable combinations. Fit Pregnancy suggests starting out with a low-sodium chicken broth base, adding rotisserie chicken, onions, carrots and celery. Fitta Momma offers a nutrient-rich recipe for beetroot soup with onions, potatoes, carrots and lots of herbs and spices. Top it with low-fat Greek yogurt for a dose of protein.
If you crave miso soup while pregnant, know that there's no evidence that soy is bad for pregnancy when eaten in moderation. However, miso paste and soy sauce are high in sodium. Too much sodium can worsen swelling in the face, legs, hands and feet — a common pregnancy symptom. Use low-sodium soy sauce and halve the amount of miso paste called for in your favorite recipe. Add strong flavors from garlic, scallion and fresh ginger to make up for the missing miso content.
Read more: Healthy Low-Calorie Soups
- National Academy of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Vitamins
- American Pregnancy Association: Nutrients & Vitamins For Pregnancy
- National Academy of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients
- USDA: Basic Report: 16162, MORI-NU, Tofu, silken, firm
- USDA: Basic Report: 11124, Carrots, raw
- USDA: Basic Report: 11458, Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
- USDA: Basic Report: 11510, Sweet potato, cooked, boiled, without skin
- USDA: Basic Report: 20037, Rice, brown, long-grain, cooked
- USDA: Basic Report: 05013, Chicken, broilers or fryers, meat only, cooked, roasted
- USDA: Basic Report: 16046, Beans, small white, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt
- Fit Pregnancy: Quick and Easy Recipe: Homemade Chicken Soup
- Fitta Momma: Beetroot soup
- Fit Pregnancy: Is Soy Safe During Pregnancy?
- American Pregnancy Association: Swelling During Pregnancy