Eating healthy foods while you're breast-feeding will help you and your baby get the nutrients both of you need, experts say.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reminds new mothers that breast-feeding provides many health benefits for infants, including protection against infection and illness.

It advises breast-feeding mothers to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits; seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, beans and nuts; and low-fat or fat-free milk, or soy products with added calcium. Other recommended foods include brown rice, 100 percent whole-wheat bread and other whole grains, and fortified cereals with added iron and folic acid.

Some other breast-feeding tips from the HHS follow:


Limit your intake of foods and drinks that are high in empty calories from added sugars and solid fats. These include desserts, fatty meats, fried foods and sugar-sweetened drinks, the agency said in a news release.
Fish and shellfish contain nutrients that can help your infant see and learn better, so you should eat seafood two or three days a week while breast-feeding. Healthy seafood choices include: salmon, catfish, cod, herring, shrimp, canned light tuna, white (albacore) tuna, but no more than 6 ounces a week.
Don't eat fish that are high in mercury, which can hurt an infant's development. Fish to avoid include swordfish, tilefish, shark and king mackerel.
You need extra fluids, such as water and fat-free or low-fat milk, while breast-feeding. Try to drink a glass of water each time you breast-feed. Don't drink alcohol or sweetened beverages, and avoid or limit caffeine.

Most breast-feeding women can get all the nutrients they need by eating healthy foods. If you think you're not getting enough nutrients, talk to your doctor about taking a multivitamin, the agency added.

-- Robert Preidt