Not only are pumpkin seeds safe to eat during pregnancy, but they also contain many of the most important nutrients for prenatal development. Add pumpkin seeds to salads, breads, parfaits and smoothies, or eat them on their own for a healthy snack. As noted in "The Ultimate Pregnancy Guide for Expectant Mothers," just 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds contains 186 calories, which provides about half of the recommended extra calories for pregnant moms.
Iron deficiency is a common concern during pregnancy, according to the March of Dimes website. Iron aids in the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. During pregnancy, the body produces a higher number of red blood cells in order to fuel the baby's growth, which is why iron is more important than ever at this time. Pumpkin seeds have the second highest iron content after sesame seeds, with 8.8 milligrams of iron for every 100 grams. Just one cup contains half of the average woman's daily iron needs.
The primary role of B vitamins is energy production, and energy needs are much higher during pregnancy. For this reason, pregnant women need higher amounts of B vitamins than nonpregnant women of the same age group, as noted in "Essential of Life Cycle Nutrition." Folate is the most important B vitamin during pregnancy, since it helps prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. One ounce of pumpkin seeds provides about 16 micrograms of folate. Pregnant women need at least 400 micrograms per day, and most prenatal supplements contain a significant portion of the daily requirement.
One half ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 1.1 milligrams of zinc, an important mineral for pregnant women. Zinc aids in production of DNA and helps fuel the rapid cell growth that occurs in a developing baby. According to the Baby Center website, zinc deficiency during pregnancy has also been linked to miscarriage, low birth weight, toxemia and other complications during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Pregnant women should get 13 milligrams of zinc each day.
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of healthy unsaturated fats, and also provide omega 3 fatty acids to boost your baby's brain development. According to the Ask Dr. Sears website, infants who have low levels of essential fatty acids may have decreased brain development, since omega 3 builds brain cells. Fatty acids also improve visual acuity and aid in the development of the central nervous system. In addition to eating foods that contain fatty acids, be sure that your prenatal vitamin is supplemented with docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA.
- March of Dimes: Anemia
- Iron Rich Food: Iron Content of Pumpkin Seeds
- Judith Sharlin and Sari Edelstein: Essentials of Life Cycle Nutrition
- Women'sHealth.gov: Folic Acid Fact Shet
- Health Alternatives 2000: Nuts, Grains and Seeds Chart
- Parragon: 100 Best Health Foods
- BabyCenter: Zinc in Your Pregnancy Diet
- Ask Dr. Sears: DHA as a Brain Food