Pregnancy is a delicate time in your life. With all the confusion and concern regarding the food you can and cannot eat, it is natural for you to wonder if particular foods are safe to consume during this time. If you are wondering if it is still healthy to eat sweet potatoes during pregnancy, you are not alone.
It can be very difficult to navigate through the new dos and don’ts you have right now. You will have to make a whole new menu and ensure you are getting all the necessary nutrients. A balanced diet is the key to a healthy pregnancy.
Sweet potato is one such food that was definitely healthy before pregnancy. You may be wondering if that is still the case. We’ve got you covered! This article will shed light on eating sweet potato during pregnancy, and everything you need to know about it.
Nutritional Profile Of Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are highly nutritious root vegetable. According to source, 100 grams of sweet potato contains:
Name Quantity Calories 76 Kcal Water 79.81 grams Carbohydrate 17.65 grams Sugars 5.72 grams Fiber 2.5 grams Protein 1.36 grams Potassium 229 mg Sodium 181 mg Choline 10.8 mg Vitamin C 12.7 mg Beta carotene 9406 µg
Sweet potatoes also contain a significant amount of phosphorous, magnesium and calcium. It also contains un-negligible amount of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B6. Sweet potatoes have zero cholesterol and contains folate and traces of vitamin E and Vitamin K
Is It Safe To Consume Sweet Potatoes During Pregnancy?
As you can see in the above table, sweet potatoes are a powerhouse of nutrition. Most of the nutrients that are present in sweet potatoes like beta carotene, vitamins A, B6, C, minerals, choline, and fibers are crucial for healthy progression of pregnancy and proper development of the fetus.
Therefore craving sweet potatoes while pregnant is nothing to worry about. However, like all other foods, moderation is the key when it comes to eating sweet potatoes during pregnancy as well. Also, abstain from eating undercooked or raw sweet potato during pregnancy as they could trigger various digestive issues.
Related Reading: Eating Potatoes During Pregnancy- Is It Safe
What Are The Benefits Of Eating Sweet Potatoes During Pregnancy?
Being rich in vital nutrients such as vitamins A, B, C, E, potassium, copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese, and sodium, sweet potatoes are highly beneficial during pregnancy.
6 amazing health benefits of eating sweet potatoes during pregnancy are:
1. Sweet potatoes during pregnancy help with fetal development
Vitamin A is very important for the development of fetal organs like eyes, liver, kidneys, heart and lungs. It is important for fetal skeleton and maintaining fetal immunity. Pregnant women require around 800 micro grams of Vitamin A1. This can be easily attained from less than half a cup of baked sweet potato2.
Likewise, vitamin C is very important for the growth and development of bone and tendons. It is also essential for the formation of fetal skin. During pregnancy, one should include around 90 mg of Vitamin C in their daily menu3. 1/3 rd of this can be easily attain by adding a bowl of sweet potato to the daily menu.
Related Reading: 18 Foods To Eat To Increase Fetal Weight During Pregnancy
Manganese is a rare mineral which you can obtain from the food. This element also helps in the development of bones and cartilage of the fetus. A cup of baked sweet potatoes provide nearly half the amount of daily required manganese during pregnancy.
2. Helps in combating morning sickness
According to studies intake of vitamin B6 can improve the morning sickness or pregnancy nausea significantly. Vitamin B6 prompt the body to produce certain amino acid that could potentially reduce nausea. Sweet potatoes has considerable amount of vitamin B6.
Therefore eating sweet potato during the first trimester helps to improve morning sickness.
3. Sweet potato during pregnancy can prevent constipation
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of fiber. They also contain array of natural laxatives like water, magnesium and vitamin B6. Pregnancy is a time when a majority of women experience constipation.
It is recommended to include 30 grams of fiber in pregnancy menu to reduce the risk of constipation. One third of this can be obtained from a single cup of baked sweet potatoes. Therefore, eating sweet potato during pregnancy is safe and healthy way to prevent constipation.
4. Helps in the brain development of the fetus
According to studies, Vitamin B6 has a crucial part in the development of the fetal brain and nervous system. One cup of baked sweet potato carries around one third of daily required vitamin B6.
Also, sweet potatoes contain significant amount of Choline, a nutrient similar to the B vitamins. Choline also plays a major role in fetal brain development. Sweet potatoes are a rich source of folic acid which is very essential to prevent babies from developing neural tube defects such as Spina Bifida.
5. Helps to prevent hypertension
Sweet potatoes are rich in potassium. This element is very important to maintain the electrolytic balance. Potassium is essential to regulate the blood pressure. During pregnancy the blood volume increases around 50%. This can take a toll on electrolytic balance and blood pressure of the expecting women.
Therefore it is important to increase the potassium intake during pregnancy. Including sweet potato in pregnancy diet will help to meet the optimum amount of potassium and prevents the risk of hypertension
6. Sweet potatoes during pregnancy can fight anemia
Even though sweet potatoes are not rich in iron, they can effectively prevent anemia. As the blood volume increases significantly during pregnancy the risk of anemia increases if the pregnant women fail to meet the increased iron requirement. Sweet potatoes during pregnancy can help you with the same.
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin C. And, vitamin C is important for the absorption of iron. Eating sweet potatoes helps to increase the vitamin C in blood and thereby speeds up the iron absorption from the other food consumed.
What Are The Risks of Eating Sweet Potatoes During Pregnancy?
Irrespective of all its health benefits, we should not neglect some of the disadvantages of sweet potatoes especially when you decide to make them a part of your pregnancy diet. Here are some possible side effects of eating sweet potato during pregnancy:
1. Sweet potatoes during pregnancy can increase the risk of kidney stones
Consuming foods that contain high levels of oxalate can result in the formation of kidney stone. This is because oxalates bind easily to certain minerals, including calcium, creating calcium-oxalate stones. Sweet potatoes are high in oxalates. Therefore excessive consumption of sweet potatoes can cause kidney stones, an extremely painful condition.
2. Can bring about stomach ache
Sweet potatoes contain a type of sugar called mannitol, a member of “sugar alcohol family”. This special kind of sugar can bring about gas, stomach pain, and diarrhea among people who has mannitol intolerance. Pregnancy is a time women become sensitive to foods.
Related Reading: 9 Common Pregnancy Aches and Pains With Remedies
3. Can make you put on excess weight
Sweet potatoes are high in starch content. Therefore excessive consumption of sweet potato can pave the way for unnecessary weight gain. Being over weight during pregnancy can trigger many complications. Hence, sweet potato is not suitable for expecting women who are obese.
4. Risk of Vitamin A toxicity
Vitamin A toxicity is caused by ingesting high doses of vitamin A. If this happens during pregnancy, it could bring about congenital malformations and miscarriage. More than 15,000 IU of vitamin A could trigger Vitamin A toxicity in expecting women.
Even though it looks impossible, when you consider other food and supplements that contain vitamin A you are having per day, excessive intake of sweet potato may result in vitamin A toxicity. So, no matter how intensely you crave sweet potatoes, keep a tab on it to avoid excess intake.
How To Incorporate Sweet Potatoes In Pregnancy Diet
Being a versatile vegetable, you can try a plethora of healthy sweet potato recipes to be consumed during pregnancy. You can savory prepare curry and sweets with this root vegetable. However, baking or grilling sweet potatoes helps in retaining all its nutrients and reap all the nutritional benefits.
Sweet potatoes are highly nutritious, inexpensive, and versatile vegetable. You can easily incorporate it to your pregnancy diet. However, to reap all its benefits remember to eat them in moderation. Overeating anything during pregnancy can trigger annoying side effects.
Also, it is wise to consult your doctor before including sweet potatoes in your pregnancy diet to make sure it won’t affect underlying health issues (if any).
Sweet potatoes are extremely advantageous and safe to consume during the first trimester of pregnancy. During pregnancy, especially during the initial months of pregnancy it is important to increase the intake of folate. Increasing folate intake during first trimester is very important to prevent neural tube defects like Spina bifida in babies.
Pregnant women require 400mcg folic acid a day to prevent the risk of spinal cord defects. Sweet potatoes are great source of folate. According to source, half a cup of sweet potatoes contains 40 to 90mcg of folic acid.
Purple sweet potatoes are just as nutritious and advantageous as normal sweet potatoes. They have more beta carotene and yet all other nutrients are more or less same as normal sweet potatoes. Therefore eating purple sweet potato during pregnancy is as beneficial as normal sweet potatoes.
However, purple sweet potatoes are not as sweet as normal sweet potatoes. They have a wine-like in taste when compare to the normal sweet potatoes. The purple sweet potato tends to be much drier and starchier than normal sweet potatoes.
Because of this, purple sweet potatoes need to be cooked longer than traditional sweet potatoes.
Actually being rich in potassium, and loaded with antioxidants, sweet potatoes are one of those vegetables that can potentially reduce bloating. Sodium overload is one of the reasons that cause gas. Potassium helps to wash out excess sodium out of cells. This in turn prevents gas formation.
However, excessive consumption of sweet potato can cause not only gas but also make you poop so often. This can be counted as one of the disadvantages of sweet potatoes.