Pregnant women not eating enough vegies: study

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Expectant mothers are shunning their vegies, but still believe they're eating well, says an Adelaide university study.

Fewer than 10 per cent of pregnant women eat enough vegetables, grains and lean meats, according to research by the University of Adelaide.

"The results are rather alarming - we were expecting to see at least some pregnant women correctly following the guidelines across all food groups, but there were none," said researcher Dr Lenka Malek.

Of the 850 women studied, fewer than a third ate enough dairy, but more than half met the recommended fruit intake.

"Women who were born overseas and who were less physically active before pregnancy were less likely to keep to the daily fruit and dairy recommendations," Dr Malek said.

"And women living in metropolitan areas were less likely to meet the daily intake of vegetables."

Dr Malek also said more research was needed to explain why some expecting mothers failed to meet basic nutritional standards.

What to aim for

The Australian dietary guidelines advise pregnant women to consume the following number of servings from the five core food groups each day.

  • Vegetables and legumes/beans: five servings. One serve = 75g or 100-350kJ, for example, half a cup cooked green or orange vegetables, one cup of raw salad vegetables, half a medium potato, one tomato.
  • Fruit: two servings. One serve = 150g or 350kJ, for example, one medium piece (apple, banana, orange), two small pieces (apricots, kiwi fruit), one cup diced or canned fruit.
  • Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain or high-fibre varieties: eight-and-a-half servings. One serve = 500kJ, for example, one slice of bread, half a cup of cooked rice, pasta or porridge, one-quarter of a cup muesli, three crispbreads.
  • Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes and beans: three-and-a-half servings. One serve = 500-600kJ, for example, 65g cooked lean meat, 80g cooked lean poultry, 100g cooked fish, two eggs, 170g tofu, 30g nuts, one cup of cooked beans.
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese or alternatives, mostly reduced fat: two-and-a-half servings. One serve = 500-600kJ, for example, 250ml milk, 200g yoghurt, two slices (40g) of cheese.

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