Potatoes During Pregnancy: Do They Trigger Gestational Diabetes?

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Rosy loved potatoes: mashed, baked or fried. She consumed them regularly until she learned that she was pregnant. And then she stopped because she was not sure if they were good for her and her baby. Rosy was also worried that potatoes could increase the risk of gestational diabetes.

Was Rosy right? Are potatoes bad for pregnant women? In this post, Momjunction tells you all about eating potatoes during pregnancy, the benefits and the risks of eating them and how best to eat them for nutritional benefits.

Are Potatoes Healthy To Eat During Pregnancy?

Moderate consumption of potatoes is healthy during pregnancy. Your womb’s primary source of energy is glucose, which is found in carbohydrates such as potatoes. According to the Swiss Association for Nutrition (SAN), three to four servings of carbohydrates per day are safe during pregnancy. This includes potatoes, rice, cereal, bread and other whole-grain options.

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What Are The Chances Of Potatoes Triggering Gestational Diabetes (GD)?

Potatoes contain large amounts of starch that is rapidly absorbed by the body and can affect the glucose metabolism. Studies also reveal that potato consumption will increase the concentrations of plasma glucose and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (1).

The study reinforces the importance of having potatoes in moderation and swapping them with other vegetables, whole grains and legumes to lower the risk of GD. Compared to five or even three servings, one serving of potato per week will reduce the risk of gestational diabetes significantly (2).

Excess consumption of potatoes before pregnancy is also associated with increased risk of GD.

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[Read: Sweet Potato During Pregnancy]

What Are The Health Benefits Of Eating Potatoes While Pregnant?

Potatoes are rich in nutrients. Here are some benefits of consuming potatoes during pregnancy.

1. Folate prevents neural tube defects

Potatoes contain high amounts of folic acid which helps in the development of the fetal nervous system. It, thereby, lowers the risk of brain and spinal issues. Folate-rich foods in the early stages of pregnancy can also prevent a miscarriage (3).

2. Lowers gas and acidity

Potatoes are very helpful for those having digestive issues. If cooked properly, they can help reduce gas and acidity. A serving of mashed potato helps (4).

3. Healthy weight gain

If you are underweight, potatoes can help in an ideal and healthy weight gain during pregnancy (5).

4. Combats cholesterol

Potatoes contain soluble fiber and vitamin C that help fight cholesterol (6).

5. Boosts immunity

Baked potatoes are rich sources of vitamin C that heals wounds and boosts immunity. It also improves the ability to absorb iron from other foods (7).

6. Reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases

The skin of potato contains rich potassium levels, which are associated with decreased heart stroke and hypertension. One medium serving of baked potato with skin provides 926mg potassium (8).

7. Treats puffy eyes

Undereye bags are common during pregnancy. Simply grate a raw potato and apply it on the eyes for about 10-15 minutes. It cools your eyes and relieves the swelling (9).

8. Helps fetal development

Potatoes are a good source of vitamins (A and C) and minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which aid in the growth and development of the fetus (10).

It is important to weigh the benefits as well as risks of anything you eat during pregnancy. This is true for potatoes as well.

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[Read: Foods To Eat During Pregnancy]

What Are The Risks Of Consuming Potatoes During Pregnancy?

Some of the potential side effects of potato are:

  1. Causes gastrointestinal problems: Green potatoes contain glycoalkaloids, alpha-solanine, and alpha-chaconine. These compounds could cause toxicity when consumed in excess and lead to gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea, which could affect the development of the fetus (11).
  1. Risk of congenital anomalies: Eating too many green potatoes also causes certain birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly (12).
  1. Triggers gestational diabetes: Women who consume potatoes in excess are at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Babies born to women with gestational diabetes may be larger than average, have difficulty in breathing, low blood pressure and risk of death after delivery (13).

Moderate consumption of potatoes can help you avoid these side effects. Also, how you cook them before consumption makes a difference.

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What Are The Safe Ways To Include Potatoes In Pregnancy Diet?

You can try cooking potatoes in different ways to suit your tastes during pregnancy.

  • Baking potato without cheese
  • Combining potatoes with other vegetables, greens, fish, and meat
  • Potato soup or stewed potato
  • Potato salad or mashed potato with eggs, vegetables and spices

Here are a couple of potato-based recipes for you to try.

1. Potato and onion soup

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You will need:

  • 1 cup potatoes, finely diced
  • ½ cup dried mixed herbs
  • ¼ cup onions, thinly sliced
  • 1tsp butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper and salt for taste
  • 2tbsp grated carrot for garnish

How to:

  1. Add butter and onions to the pressure cooker and saute them for a minute on a medium flame.
  2. Add potatoes and saute for one to two minutes.
  3. Add about one and a half cups of water, combine and cook for three whistles
  4. Tale off the whistle and let the steam out. Let the mixture cool before blending it into a smooth puree.
  5. Transfer the contents to a saucepan. Add dried herbs, pepper, salt and half a cup of water.
  6. Mix properly and cook over a medium flame. Garnish with carrot and serve hot.

Preparation time: 25 min
Servings: 2

[Read: Tomatoes During Pregnancy]

2. Classic potato salad

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 8 medium sized potatoes, cooked and diced
  • 2tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2tbsp sugar
  • 1 ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tbsp yellow mustard
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup onion, blended
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • Little paprika
  • 5 eggs, hard-boiled

How to:

  1. Peel potatoes and boil them in salted water.
  2. Cool them to room temperature, dice and put them in a large bowl.
  3. Mix cider vinegar, sugar, mayonnaise, salt, mustard, pepper and garlic powder in another bowl.
  4. Now add the above mixture to the potatoes.
  5. Combine onions and celery to it.
  6. Slice eggs and add to that.
  7. Top with some paprika and serve.

Preparation time: 15 min
Servings: 8

Consult your healthcare provider before planning to eat potatoes in any form. For answers to more questions about potatoes during pregnancy, read the FAQs next.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does craving potatoes during pregnancy tell something about baby’s gender?

Craving potatoes mean you are carrying a boy. However, this is pure folklore and has no scientific evidence.

2. Can you eat potato chips during pregnancy?

Moderate and occasional consumption of potato chips, which are considered junk food, is alright unless you have any medical conditions such as gestational diabetes or hypertension(14).

3. Is it safe to eat green sprouted potatoes?

Green sprouted potatoes contain high concentrations of glycoalkaloids, which have a toxic effect on your nervous system. They interfere with the body’s ability to regulate acetylcholine, which stimulates nerve impulses. So avoid eating potatoes with skin that is partially or entirely green (15).

[Read: Radish During Pregnancy]

Potatoes are perhaps the most commonly used vegetable in any diet and cannot be avoided completely. So, exercise caution when including potatoes in your diet and eat them in moderation to prevent the risks they pose during pregnancy.

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How are you planning to include potatoes in your pregnancy diet? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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