Vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals, and they have great nutritional values, and each a specific role it plays on the body system. While all vegetables are great for consumption, there are some veggies that have greater benefits, especially for pregnant and nursing mothers, which should be incorporated in the diet.
Reason being that these vegetables have been found to contain phytoestrogen, compounds that boost the production and secretion of milk in nursing moms. For nursing mothers, these vegetables either act as a galactagogue, performance booster, or proper functioning and overall wellbeing of these mothers. I have compiled a list of the best vegetables for breastfeeding and what value each offer that makes them very important in the diet of nursing mothers.
Best vegetables for breastfeeding
Kale is a very rich vegetable with loads of nutrients. To get the most of this healthy vegetable, it is best eaten raw or cooked and, in most cases, blended into a smoothie on its own or with other veggies.
Kale contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, and E as well as an abundance of mineral contents such as Manganese, Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Copper and phosphorus. Its dietary fiber content makes it easily digestible without bowel complications.
Other nutritional compositions of Kale include Protein, Folate, Niacin, and omega-3- fatty acids. In other words, Kale, on its own, is a balanced vegetable for the good and healthy development of both mother and child.
Spinach is best served in its cooked form because, in its raw form, it contains oxalate (an anti-nutritional compound) that binds Copper and Iron from being absorbed into the body. But in its cooked form, the absorption rate is higher, and the body can enjoy its high content of vitamins A and E, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Thiamin, Zinc, Lutein, and beta-carotene. Spinach also has a good amount of fiber and is a galactagogue.
Avocado can be classified as a fruit or vegetable, but rather way, it is healthy and rich in the K vitamin. Avocado also contains monounsaturated fats that help to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K into your baby’s body for proper growth and nerve development. Avocado can be eaten fresh, and it melts like butter in the mouth or can be used in cooking as well as in salads. It is also rich in fiber.
Carrot is a galactagogue, that is, a breast milk stimulant. This is due to the presence of phytoestrogen compounds in the vegetable. But other than that, consuming a good amount of carrot provides extra energy for the body. Some nutrients contained in carrot are beta carotene, vitamin A and C. Carrot is also a very good antioxidant.
Lettuce is a low- calorie vegetable that has high moisture content. It also contains a balanced proportion of minerals like Potassium, Sodium, Zinc, Iron, and Magnesium. Vitamins such as Thiamin, Vitamin A, C, K, E, B6, Niacin, and Riboflavin are also much present in lettuce. Its water content is essential in protecting a nursing mother from dehydration. Lettuce is great in salads or as a smoothie.
Whether as fruit, berry, or vegetable, the role tomato plays in nutrition cannot be over-emphasized, which is why it is on the list of the best vegetables for breastfeeding. Tomatoes are well packed in nutrients and have a high amount of antioxidants, especially lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein, and choline. These antioxidants work very well in protecting the heart, boosting metabolism as well as brain development, which of course, every child needs while growing up.
Sweet potatoes are sweet and can be enjoyed in different forms. Nutritionally, they contain a good quantity of Vitamin A and carotenoids, which helps in the proper growth, development, and functioning of your baby.
A serving of Asparagus provides your body with fiber, Folate, Vitamins A, C, E, and K, and also vitamin B12, which acts as a brain booster. This veggie also contains a number of essential amino acids, particularly which helps the prolactin hormone stimulate milk production. Asparagus can be grilled or cooked with other vegetables.
If you enjoy okra as much as I do, then you will agree with me that it should be on your list of vegetables to eat while breastfeeding. There are many ways you can prepare okra to get the most of it, but if you don’t like the slime, I read in a post that you can remove the slime by soaking in vinegar for some minutes before cooking. But with or without slime, okra is always a go for me. Like other vegetables, okra is rich in vitamins A, B, C and E, thiamin, Niacin, and Folate. It also has a good amount of minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and of course, Iron. Including okra in your diet improves your health and well-being as well as providing adequate baby nourishment.
The list is not complete without the pumpkin. One way you can incorporate pumpkin into your diet is by snacking on the seeds. Trust me, they are so rich and have a high level of protein, fiber, and iron concentration. Pumpkin is said to have almost half of the recommended daily intake of iron for breastfeeding moms. As a matter of fact, the consumption of pumpkin seeds has been related to proper nerve and brain cell development in children.
Going through the list, you will realize that these vegetables have a lot of things in common, one of which is the presence of iron in their composition. This is because Iron is an important nutrient a baby needs for the proper development of brain cells and neurons in infancy. Iron is also needed for blood production and supply in the body as a shortage of iron could lead to anemia.
This is why nursing mothers are expected to include iron-rich foods in their diet, and one of the best sources of iron is vegetables. The best vegetables for breastfeeding have been described, but in summary, they are the ones rich in nutrients, provides energy, helps stimulate breast milk production, and with a good level of iron content.