Having sweet potatoes during pregnancy is considered to be a healthy choice. Unlike potatoes, sweet potatoes are comparatively rich in carbohydrate content and are also a nutrient-rich food option for pregnant women. You can either boil it, stir fry it or bake it; it is delicious anyway. The sweet notes of this vegetable also allow it to be used for a wide range of desserts. Read on to know more about the benefits of sweet potato for pregnant women and also a few ways you can include it in your daily 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.
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.
Sweet potatoes during pregnancy are considered safe if consumed in moderation. They have a low glycemic index (good for diabetes) and contain useful nutrients, such as potassium and folic acid. You may add it to your pregnancy diet in baked, boiled, or grilled forms. However, over-consumption should be avoided as it may increase oxalate levels, which may cause kidney problems and vitamin A, leading to congenital malformations. Also, check with your doctor to know how much of this root vegetable is suitable for you to consume.
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)