Unlike its close cousin potato, sweet potato is known to have more than carbohydrates. A nutrient-rich root vegetable, sweet potato can be stir-fried, baked, or boiled for consumption as it is, with rice or flatbread. The sweet taste of this root also lets you prepare a variety of sweet dishes that could satiate your sweet cravings during pregnancy. But how good is this vegetable for you when you’re pregnant?
We tell you about it in this MomJunction post. We also list the benefits and side effects of consuming sweet potato in pregnancy, and ways to include it in your pregnancy diet.
Is It Safe To Eat Sweet Potato In Pregnancy?
Yes, sweet potatoes are considered safe for consumption during pregnancy (1) (2). They are rich in vitamins A and C, and fiber. But women with or a history of chronic kidney diseases should avoid eating sweet potato as it contains high amounts of oxalate that could increase the risk of kidney stones (3).
While it is good to consume this root for the nutrients it supplies, eating it in excess is not a good idea, especially in pregnancy.
Nutritional Profile Of Sweet Potato
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100 grams of sweet potato provides 86kcal, 20.12g carbohydrate, 30mg calcium, 25mg magnesium, 337mg potassium, 55mg sodium, and 11µg folate. It also contains 709µg vitamin A (RAE) and 2.4mg vitamin C (4).
All these nutrients are essential for a healthy pregnancy. In the next section, we see how they benefit soon-to-be mothers.
[Read: Eating Yam During Pregnancy]
Health Benefits Of Sweet Potato During Pregnancy
Eating sweet potatoes regularly during pregnancy can provide the below nutrients to the body.
- Vitamin A: Consuming foods such as sweet potato that is rich in vitamin A can help in tissue maintenance, fetal growth, and also supports metabolism (5).
- Potassium: Pregnant women require more potassium than other women of the same age. Sweet potato contains potassium, which helps to maintain fluid balance and normalize blood pressure (6).
- Folic acid: Pregnant women require 400mcg folic acid a day to prevent the risk of spinal cord defects. And half a cup of sweet potatoes contains 40 to 90mcg of folic acid (7).
- Low GI: If you have diabetes, including low-GI foods such as sweet potatoes in your pregnancy diet can be helpful (8).
All foods should be consumed in moderation, as overdose or deficiency of nutrients in the body could cause certain side effects.
Possible Side Effects Of Eating Sweet Potatoes In Pregnancy
Excess of any nutrient could be harmful in pregnancy. As mentioned before, women with or a history of kidney problems should limit the intake of sweet potatoes, as they have high levels of oxalate (3).
Also, check with your doctor if you can consume sweet potatoes when you are on any medication. The root vegetable can interfere with some drugs and have adverse effects on your health.
Can Sweet Potato Cause Miscarriage?
More than 15,000 IU of vitamin A in daily diet could increase the chances of abnormalities. As sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, you should not have more than what is recommended during pregnancy (9). An increased amount of vitamin A during the first stage of pregnancy could be associated with congenital malformations and miscarriage.
So, no matter how much you crave sweet potatoes, keep a tab on their consumption to avoid excess intake.
Sweet Potato Cravings During Pregnancy
Some theories say that sweet potato cravings during pregnancy could be because you crave something sugary or starchy. It could also mean that your body needs carbohydrates and craves foods that are rich in it. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove these theories about sweet potato cravings in pregnancy.
Regardless of the reasons for your craving, you can enjoy this root vegetable in several ways.
Ways To Include Sweet Potatoes In Your Pregnancy Diet
Sweet potato can be relished in many ways. Here are a few.
- Thinly slice the sweet potatoes and toss them in salt and pepper. Then bake them to make crispy and healthy chips.
- Boil chunks of sweet potatoes, add some herbs and olive oil and grill them.
- Add chunks of half-boiled sweet potatoes in a green salad to make a quick snack.
- Peel sweet potatoes, cook them and add a few drops of maple syrup to make a sweet dish.
[Read: Potatoes During Pregnancy]
There is no harm in consuming sweet potatoes during pregnancy, as long as it is in moderation. But if you are unsure of it, talk to your doctor before including it in your daily diet. Like any other vegetable, sweet potatoes must be consumed alongside other nutritious foods such as fruits, grains, and legumes.
Do you have recipes of sweet potatoes to share? Please share them with us.
2. Top 20 foods for pregnancy; Allina Health (2002)
3. Kidney Stone Diet Plan and Prevention; National Kidney Foundation
4. Basic report: Sweet potato, raw, unprepared; United States Department of Agriculture
5. Vitamin A Fact Sheet for Health Professionals; National Institutes of Health
6. Getting Enough Potassium; Michigan Medicine
7. Folic Acid; Cleveland State University
8. S. Dutta; Sweet Potatoes for Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review; Pharmacophore An International Research Journal (2015)
9. S. B. Maia et al.; Vitamin A and Pregnancy: A Narrative Review; nutrients (2019)
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