What Are the Health Benefits of Red Meat During Pregnancy?
While cheeseburgers and juicy steaks aren’t the most common recommendation for a healthy pregnancy diet, red meat actually provides a big benefit to mom’s growing blood supply. Although pregnant women should steer clear of raw and undercooked meat, eating more red meat can help them meet their body’s new nutritional needs.
Biggest Benefit: Iron
Although iron is an important mineral for everyone, it becomes particularly important during pregnancy. During the three trimesters of pregnancy, the pregnant woman’s blood volume increases by nearly 50 percent. This increased blood volume brings oxygen and nutrients to the woman’s growing placenta and the baby. Each red blood cell contains a protein that’s specifically made to carry oxygen; iron is responsible for making this protein, known as hemoglobin. Without iron, the mother’s blood would have less oxygen-carrying capacity. And since the body cannot make iron, it relies on iron consumed in your diet.
Recommended Iron Intake
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that pregnant women consume approximately 27 milligrams of iron per day, regardless of maternal age. This recommended amount is significantly higher than the recommended amount of 18 milligrams per day for women who aren't pregnant. One 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides around 3 milligrams of iron, which is significantly higher than other types of meat. For example, 3 ounces of chicken, fish or pork provide only about 1 milligram of iron.