Potatoes During Pregnancy: Do They Trigger Gestational Diabetes?

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Potatoes are versatile and can be enjoyed as mashed, baked, or fried. However, you may be concerned about eating potatoes during pregnancy. Potatoes are considered to be rich in carbohydrates, which puts us at an increased risk of gestational diabetes. A balanced diet should include all nutrition components that include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. So, are you skeptical about including potatoes in your pregnancy diet? Continue reading this post as we discuss the risks and health benefits of consuming this starchy vegetable and how to eat them when pregnant.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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).

Potatoes are an excellent source of carbohydrates, and including them in the diet during pregnancy is safe. However, potatoes during pregnancy have also been linked to gestational diabetes and gastrointestinal problems. Therefore, it is better not to overconsume them. Eating potatoes in moderation helps with fetal development, immunity, and the lowering of acidity. So, include moderate amounts of potatoes in your diet and consume them in healthy forms like soups, salads, and stews. Consult your doctor if you have any problems after consuming potatoes.

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Swati Patwal

Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and a toddler mom with over eight years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children. Then she worked as a nutrition faculty and clinical nutrition coach in different... more

Dr. Shikha Sharma

Celebrity nutrition advisor Dr. Shikha Sharma has founded Dr. Shikha’s Nutrihealth in 1998. Dr. Shikha has done her MBBS from Maulana Azad Medical College and her organization, Dr. Shikha's NutriHealth, has over 50 Ayurveda experts and nutritionists who provide consultation services to the clients. The Nutrihealth expert team handles weight loss/weight gain, PCOS, thyroid, diabetes, cholesterol, post-pregnancy weight loss and... more