A healthy pregnancy diet, Latino style: Portion sizes for common foods

Food list

Take a look at this list to get an idea of the wide variety of foods you can choose from to make up your healthy pregnancy diet. Next to each food item, you’ll find the quantity that makes one portion. For instance, “Arepa: 1/2″ means that half an arepa is equal to one serving of carbohydrates.

This will make it easier to follow our healthy pregnancy eating plan. Included are many delicious Latino ingredients that you can enjoy while pregnant.


The average woman needs nine daily servings of carbohydrates (which are also referred to as starches).

Legumes, grains, cereals, starchy vegetables, fruit, and milk all contain about the same amount of carbohydrate per serving. (Nonstarchy vegetables, such as leafy greens, contain fewer carbohydrates.) The key to controlling blood sugar is to balance the number of carbohydrate choices at each meal and snack.

This is particularly important for Latino women. Certain ethnic groups that have a high rate of diabetes, including Hispanics, are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.

It’s best to vary your carbohydrate choices as much as possible, selecting from all of the different categories. Each day, for example, aim for a serving or two of legumes,  some grains, some cereals, three servings of milk, some fruit, and a couple of servings of starchy vegetables, in addition to three cups of nonstarchy vegetables.

Choose whole grains over refined products whenever you can. In fact, at least half of the grains you eat should be whole grains.

Whole wheat breads and corn tortillas, for example, are better options than varieties made from white flour. Unrefined grains like brown rice contain more vitamins and fiber than those that are refined, and they don’t make your blood sugar rise as rapidly.

Breads and tortillas

1 serving equals:

Arepa (without cheese): 1/2

Bagel, small: 1/2

Bagel, large: 1/4

Bread (white, whole wheat, pumpernickel): 1 slice

Bun for hot dog or hamburger: 1/2

Corn bread, 2 inch square: 1 (+ 1 serving of fat)

Corn tortilla (yellow, blue, or black corn), 6 inches across: 1

Croutons: 1/2 cup (+ 1 fat)

English muffin: 1/2

Flour tortilla (white or whole wheat), 6 inches across: 1

Gordita, unfilled: 1/2

Jalapeño bread: 1 small slice (+ 2 fats)

Pancake, 4 inches across: 1 (+ 1 fat)

Pupusa, no filling: 1/2 (+ 1 fat)

Sweet bread (media noche): 1/2 slice

Taco shell, 5 inches across: 2 (+1 fat)


1 serving equals:

Animal crackers: 8

Crackers filled with cheese or peanut butter: 3 (+ 1 fat)

Graham crackers, 2 1/2 inch square: 3

Melba toast crackers: 4

Round appetizer crackers: 6 (+ 1 fat)

Saltines: 6

Whole wheat crackers: 5 (+ 1 fat)


1 serving equals:

Tortilla or potato chips (low-fat or baked): 15 to 20 (3/4 ounce)

Fig bars: 2

French fries: 10 to 15 (+ 1 fat)

Plantain chips: 12 (+ 2 fats)

Popcorn (light or no fat added): 3 cups

Pretzels: 3/4 ounce

Refried flour chicharrón (chicharrón de harina enchilado): 1 ounce (+ 1 fat)

Rice cakes, 4 inches: 2

Cereals and grains

1 serving equals:

Cereal bar: 1 (+ 1 fat)

Low-sugar cereal like O-shaped cereal, wheat, oat, or corn flakes: 3/4 cup

Bran flakes: 1/2 cup

Puffed rice or wheat cereal: 1 1/2 cups

Flour for cooking: 3 tablespoons

Granola (low fat): 1/4 cup

Muesli: 1/4 cup

Oatmeal or grits, unsweetened: 1/2 cup

Pasta: 1/3 cup

Polenta, cooked without fat: 1/3 cup

Rice (white or brown): 1/3 cup cooked

Wild rice: 1/2 cup cooked


Note that legumes count as both a protein (lean or medium-fat meat) and a carbohydrate (starch) serving.

1 serving equals:

Beans (black, garbanzo, kidney, navy, pinto, refried beans): 1/2 cup (+ 1 lean meat)

Edamame: 1/2 cup (+ 1 lean meat)

Hummus: 1/3 cup (+ 1 medium-fat meat)

Lentils: 1/2 cup (+ 1 lean meat)

Peas (black-eyed, split, green): 1/2 cup (+ 1 lean meat)

Gandules (pigeon peas): 1/2 cup (+ 1 lean meat)

Starchy vegetables

These are a good source of vitamin A. (Eat at least twice a week.)

1 serving equals:

Pumpkin, canned: 1 cup

Sweet potato: 1/2 cup

Other starchy vegetables

1 serving equals:

Acorn or butternut squash: 1 cup

Corn: 1/2 cup or 1/2 large ear

Mashed potato: 1/2 cup

Mixed vegetables (corn, peas, and other vegetables): 1 cup

Plantain, ripe: 1/3 cup

Potato (boiled or roasted): 1 small

Yucca: 1/3 cup


The average pregnant woman needs 3 cups of vegetables daily. A good goal is to eat at least one serving of raw vegetables every day.

In general, a 1-cup portion of vegetables is equivalent to 1 cup of vegetable juice, 1 cup of cooked vegetables, or 2 cups of leafy greens. These nonstarchy vegetables contain very few carbohydrates.

Vegetables that are high in vitamins A and C are orange, red, yellow, or dark green. Vitamins A and C are important for a healthy pregnancy, so it’s recommended that you eat these colorful vegetables every day.

Good vegetable sources of vitamin A

(Choose at least one a day.)

Carrots and carrot juice

Chinese cabbage


Mixed vegetables

Red peppers



Good vegetable sources of vitamin C

(Choose at least one a day.)


Brussels sprouts



Green tomato


Peppers, red and green

Cabbage, red

Other vegetables

Alfalfa sprouts








Hearts of palm


Lettuce (all types)

Maguey or yucca flowers





Pumpkin flowers

Squash (yellow, green, and calabacitas)

Tomato, jitomate, jitomatillo





The average pregnant woman should eat four servings of fruit per day. This is about 2 cups of fresh fruit.

One serving of fruit equals one small to medium piece of fresh fruit, 1/2 cup of canned fruit or fruit juice, or 2 tablespoons of dried fruit. As with vegetables, look for fruit that is high in vitamins A and C.

Good fruit sources of vitamin A or C

(Choose at least one each day.)

One serving equals:

Apricots, dried: 8 halves

Apricots, fresh: 4

Cantaloupe: 1 cup, cubed

Grapefruit: 1/2

Guava: 1/2 cup

Kiwi: 1

Mandarin/tangerine: 2 small

Maracuyá (passion fruit): 2 ounces

Mango: 1/2

Nectarine, small: 1

Orange, small: 1

Orange or grapefruit juice: 1/2 cup

Papaya: 1 cup, cubed

Passion fruit: 1/4 cup

Peach: 1 medium

Pineapple: 3/4 cup

Strawberries: 1 1/4 cup

Other fruit

Apple juice: 1/2 cup

Banana: 1 extra small or 1/2 extra large

Berries (blue or black): 3/4 cup

Cherimoya fruit: 1/2 cup diced

Cherries: 12

Dates: 3

Figs, fresh: 2

Figs, dried: 1 1/2

Grape juice: 1/3 cup

Mamey: 1/7

Plums: 2 small

Prunes: 3

Raspberries: 1 cup

Raisins: 2 tablespoons

Tamarind pulp: 1/5 cup

Tecojote (crabapple): 3/4 cup

Watermelon: 1 slice or 1 1/4 cup

Xoconostle (prickly pear): 1

Milk and yogurt

Pregnant women need three daily servings from the milk/yogurt category of carbohydrates. Milk and yogurt are great sources of calcium. (Cheese is too, but for the purpose of meal planning, it is counted as protein.)

1 serving equals:

Evaporated skim milk: 1/2 cup

Nonfat plain yogurt: 6 oz (2/3 cup)

Powdered nonfat milk: 1/3 cup

Nonfat milk or 1% milk: 1 cup

Kefir, low-fat jocoque: 1 cup (+ 1 fat)

2% reduced-fat milk: 1 cup (+ 1 fat)

Reduced-fat soy milk: 1 cup (+ 1 fat)

Whole milk or soy milk: 1 cup (+ 1.5 fat)


The average woman who drinks three servings of milk needs about 7 ounces of meat/meat substitutes per day. It’s best to have the protein divided between meals and snacks.

Legumes also provide an excellent source of protein. They are listed in the Starch section above.

In the following lists, foods that aren’t measured in ounces have one-ounce equivalents noted. Some sources of protein (like the high-fat meats and meat substitutes listed below) contain a lot of fat, so it’s better not to eat them more than once or twice a week.

Lean meat and meat substitutes

Beef (select or choice, round, roast, sirloin, tenderloin)

Egg whites: 2

Egg substitute: 1/4 cup

Lamb (roast, chop, leg)


Pork (Canadian bacon, ham, tenderloin)

Poultry without the skin (chicken, Cornish hen, duck, turkey)

Shrimp, shellfish, sardines, tuna

White fish (tilapia, sole, hake)

Wild game

Medium-fat meat and meat substitutes

Beef (corned, ground, prime rib, short ribs, tongue)

Cheese with 4 to 7 grams of fat per ounce (see list below)

Eggs: 1

Fried fish

Poultry (chicken with skin, ground turkey, fried chicken)


High-fat meats and meat substitutes


Bologna with 8 or more grams of fat per ounce


Higher-fat cheese (see list below)

Hot dogs

Lunch meat with 8 or more grams of fat


Pork (ground, sausage, spareribs)

Sausage with 8 or more grams of fat (bratwurst, chorizo, Italian, Polish, smoked, summer)

Plant-based meat substitutes

Legumes are a popular lean-meat substitute and are listed under Starches. Again, amounts given below are equivalent to one ounce of lean or medium-fat meat:

Peanut butter: 1 tablespoon (1 high-fat meat)

Soy-based chicken nuggets: 1 1/2 ounce or 2 nuggets (1/2 carbohydrate + 1 medium-fat meat)

Soy-based hot dog: 1 1/2 ounce (1/2 carbohydrate + 1 lean meat)

Soy burger: 3 ounce (1/2 carbohydrate + 2 lean meats)

Tofu, light: 1/2 cup or 4 ounces (1 lean meat)

Tofu, regular: 1/2 cup or 4 ounces (1 medium-fat meat)


Cheese, a big part of the Latino diet, provides a rich source of calcium and is also considered a meat/meat substitute. However, some cheeses have a lot of fat and calories, so be careful with your choices.

And you should avoid certain soft cheeses during pregnancy. (See those italicized, below.) To be safe, don’t eat any cheese made from raw milk. Make sure that the label on the cheese says it’s made from pasteurized milk.

Less-fatty cheese (contains up to 7 grams of fat per ounce)

1 serving equals:

Asadero: 1 ounce

Cottage cheese: 1/4 cup

Feta: 1 ounce

Mozzarella, part skim or regular: 1 ounce

Parmesan, grated: 2 tablespoons

Queso blanco (white Mexican cheese): 1 ounce

Queso fresco (fresh Mexican cheese): 1 ounce

Higher-fat cheese (contains 8 or more grams of fat per ounce)

1 serving equals:

American: 1 ounce

Blue cheese: 1 ounce

Brie, Camembert: 1 ounce

Cheddar: 1 ounce

Chihuahua: 1 ounce

Cotija: 2 tablespoons

Monterey Jack, with or without jalapeño pepper: 1 ounce

Muenster: 1 ounce

Provolone: 1 ounce

Swiss, Gruyère: 1 ounce


Aim for about six servings (1 teaspoon each) of fat per day while you’re pregnant.

Keep in mind that much of the fat in your diet is already in the foods you eat. Added fats (like mayonnaise on your sandwich or dressing on your salad) and those used in cooking (like lard and oil) can add hefty amounts to the total fat and calories in your diet. So limit your fat intake, but don’t eliminate fats altogether – they’re necessary for a healthy pregnancy.

Cooking with vegetable oils such as olive oil instead of animal fats such as lard and butter is better for your cholesterol count as well as your overall health and your baby’s. Choose mostly from the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats listed below.

Each serving of fat below is equal to 1 teaspoon of fat.

Monounsaturated fats

1 serving equals:

Almonds, cashews: 6

Avocado: 2 tablespoons

Hazelnuts: 6

Nut butters, trans-fat-free: 1 1/2 tablespoon

Oil (canola, olive, peanut): 1 teaspoon

Olives, black: 8 large

Olives, green with pimiento: 10

Peanuts: 10

Pecans: 4 halves

Pistachios: 16

Polyunsaturated fats

1 serving equals:

Margarine (trans-fat-free stick, tub, or squeeze): 1 teaspoon

Margarine, low-fat spread: 1 tablespoon

Mayonnaise, regular: 1 teaspoon

Mayonnaise, reduced-fat: 1 tablespoon

Oil (corn, cottonseed, flaxseed, grapeseed, safflower, soybean, sunflower): 1 teaspoon

Pine nuts: 1 tablespoon

Ranch dressing, regular: 1/2 tablespoon

Ranch dressing, low-fat: 2 tablespoons

Seeds (flaxseed, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower): 1 tablespoon

Tahini (sesame paste): 2 teaspoons

Walnuts: 4 halves

Saturated fats

1 serving equals:

Alfredo sauce: 2 tablespoons

Bacon: 1 slice

Butter, stick: 1 teaspoon

Butter, whipped: 2 teaspoons

Caesar salad dressing: 2 teaspoons

Coconut, shredded: 2 tablespoons

Cream, heavy: 1 tablespoon

Cream, whipped: 2 tablespoons

Cream cheese, regular: 1 tablespoon

Cream cheese, reduced fat: 1 1/2 tablespoons

Half and half: 2 tablespoons

Lard: 1 teaspoon

Sour cream, regular: 2 tablespoons

Sour cream, reduced-fat: 3 tablespoons

Sweets, desserts, and other carbohydrates

If you’re at risk for gestational diabetes or have diabetes already, you should eat sweets only occasionally during pregnancy.

Because these foods contain extra sugar, they’re counted as one or more carbohydrate choices, as noted. These refined carbohydrates can quickly raise blood sugar, so make sure to eat them sparingly and as part of a meal. Most also contain extra fat, as noted.

The foods below represent what a “moderate” serving size of a sweet or dessert would be and how they count in the starch and fat categories.

Frozen and milk-based desserts/beverages

Frozen yogurt, fat-free: 1/3 cup (1 carbohydrate)

Frozen yogurt, regular: 1/2 cup (1 carbohydrate + 1 fat)

Ice cream, light or no sugar added: 1/2 cup (1 carbohydrate+ 1 fat)

Sherbet, sorbet: 1/2 cup (2 carbohydrates)

Pudding, regular: 1/2 cup (2 carbohydrates)

Pudding, sugar free: 1/2 cup (1 carbohydrate)

Hot chocolate, instant regular made with water: 1 cup (1 carbohydrate)

Hot chocolate, instant sugar-free made with water: 1 cup (1 carbohydrate + 1 fat)

Other desserts

Angel food cake, unfrosted: 1/12 of cake (2 carbohydrates)

Brownie: 1 ounce (1 carbohydrate + 1 fat)

Cake, unfrosted: 2 square inches (1 carbohydrate + 1 fat)

Chocolate-chip cookie, 2 1/4 inches across: 2 (1 carbohydrate+ 2 fats)

Chocolate kisses: 5 pieces (1 carbohydrate + 1 fat)

Buñuelo: 1 medium (1 carbohydrate + 1 fat)

Churro: 1 medium (1 carbohydrate + 1 fat)

Empanada: 1 (1 1/2 carbohydrates + 1 fat)

Fruit pie with 2 crusts: 1/6 of pie (3 carbohydrates + 2 fats)

Glazed donut: 1 (2 carbohydrates + 2 fats)

Muffin, large: 1/4 (1 carbohydrate + 1/2 fat)

Peanut palanqueta: 1/2 piece (1 carbohydrate + 1 fat)

Pumpkin pie: 1/8 of 8-inch pie (1 1/2 carbohydrates plus 1/2 fat)

Syrups and spreads

Chocolate syrup: 1 tablespoon (1 carbohydrate)

Fruit spread (100% fruit): 1 1/2 tablespoons (1 carbohydrate)

Honey: 1 tablespoon (1 carbohydrate)

Pancake syrup, light: 2 tablespoons (1 carbohydrate)

By Lourdes Alcañiz, author of Waiting for Bebé: A Pregnancy Guide for Latinas