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Good Fats and Bad Fats in a Healthy Pregnancy Diet

17/03/2016 14:33 GMT | Updated 18/03/2017 09:12 GMT

Fat. It's such a big issue! Whether it's 'being fat', avoiding too much fat or making sure you include the right fats for a healthy pregnancy diet - but which are the good fats and which are the bad fats for pregnant women?

You need fats to absorb and transport fat soluble vitamins such as A,D,E and K, essential prenatal vitamins. And the essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6 are necessary for your baby's healthy development and brain function. Fat is fuel for your body, provides energy and helps you to feel full - eating low-fat or reduced-fat foods can be counter-productive as they leave you feeling unsatisfied.

I'd like to help you in understanding good fats, bad fats and healthy pregnancy nutrition!

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What fats should you avoid during pregnancy?

Steer clear of hydrogenated fats or 'trans fats'. Most of these are created artificially and included in takeaways, fast and processed foods.

What fats should you eat when pregnant?

Include some saturated fats in your pregnancy diet. These are found in meat, dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt and butter and tropical oils such as palm oil and coconut oil. Whilst some sources suggest you should avoid saturated fats when pregnant they are a good source of energy, they help your bones to take up calcium and have an important role in the structure and function of cell membranes.

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Unsaturated fats are essential for a healthy pregnancy

Both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are necessary for your baby's growth, contributing to the healthy development of brain, eyes and nervous system.

What foods contain monounsaturated fats?

These are the fats typical in a Mediterranean diet, especially olive oil and avocados as well as nuts and seeds. When you're planning healthy pregnancy meals and snacks feel good about aubergine dip; baked peppers and tomatoes cooked with olive oil and fresh green salads with avocado and an olive oil salad dressing

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What foods contain polyunsaturated fats?

You'll find polyunsaturated fats in sunflower oil , corn oil, nuts and seeds. Polyunsaturated fats also include Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids which are vital for your pregnancy diet as they are necessary for healthy brain function. If you're suffering from 'baby brain' and have become more forgetful in pregnancy it will be good for you - as well as promoting healthy brain development for your baby!

So where do I find omega-3?

The main sources are oily fish, such as sardines, anchovies, mackerel, salmon and fresh tuna. Avoid too much fresh tuna during pregnancy as it can include high levels of mercury and opt for wild salmon over farmed if possible. Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds and dark green leafy vegetable also have high levels of omega-3 and are good foods for pregnant women. Eat salmon with a green leafy salad and make a batch of granola bars for a high energy snack rich in nuts and flaxseeds.