One of the most commonly asked topics on numerous online forums is “Can I eat yam during pregnancy?” It’s no surprise that most moms are cautious about the foods they eat while pregnant.
Eating right will provide the unborn baby with all of the nutrients they need for optimal growth and development. On the other hand, eating even one wrong food during pregnancy can potentially invite several unfavourable outcomes.
Yams are colorful tuber vegetables that are rich in nutrients. There are different types of yam such as elephant foot yam, purple yam, wild yam, yellow yam, Chinese yam, etc.
Yams are high in fiber, potassium, manganese, copper, and antioxidants, and have been linked to a variety of health advantages. Still, many women are concerned about the safety of consuming yams during pregnancy.
This article talks about the benefits, risks, and side effects of eating yams during pregnancy.
Is It Safe To Eat Yams During Pregnancy?
Yams are a safe addition to an expecting mother’s diet since they are high in fiber, antioxidants, potassium, and other nutrients that promote a healthy pregnancy. They are devoid of strong odors and flavors and therefore it tastes delicious during pregnancy and can be easily added in your list of pregnancy superfoods.
However, it is important to consume cooked yams during pregnancy and fully abstain from raw yams. Freshly cooked yams are perfectly safe to eat during pregnancy. Beware of refrigerating cooked yams for several days as leftover yams that are refrigerated can be a breeding ground for infectious microbes. This can potentially trigger food poisoning during pregnancy.
Because of its color, purple yams, also known as Ubes, are considered poisonous by some people. But, is purple yam poisonous? Is it safe to eat purple yam during pregnancy?
The answer is purple yam is not at all poisonous as the purple color is owed to the anthocyanins content, which is precisely a plant pigment that also offers strong antioxidant properties. These yams are highly nutritious. Moreover, the vibrant color of purple makes it an integral part of a variety of sweet and savory dishes. Purple yams, like normal yams, pose no health hazards if eaten freshly after cooking.
Nutritional Profile Of Yams
According to the source, one cup of cubed yams contains
- 42 grams carbohydrate
- 6.2 grams dietary fiber
- 2.3 grams protein
- It is rich in potassium. One cup of cubed yam carries around 1224 mg of potassium
- Yam also carries a noticeable amount of calcium and iron
- It is an excellent source of copper, manganese, and phosphorous
- Yam contains traces of selenium and zinc
- It is an excellent source of beta carotene
- Yam is a good source of B vitamins, particularly vitamin B6
- Yam is a good source of vitamin C. One cup of cubed yam provides around 28% of daily required vitamin C
- It also contains folate, vitamin K and vitamin E
- Compared with other potato products, Yam has 54% glucose
Top 12 Benefits Of Eating Yams During Pregnancy
Eating yams offers several health benefits. It is high in nutrients, including dietary fiber, collagen, and beta-carotene. It is one of the richest sources of minerals such as copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
All these minerals are vital for the healthy progression of pregnancy. Therefore, if consumed in moderation, yams can be extremely advantageous to a woman’s health during pregnancy.
The following are 12 advantages of eating yams when pregnant:
1. Helps to prevent the probabilities of low birth weight in babies
Yams are an excellent source of Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 plays an important role in preventing babies from being born underweight. Therefore, eating yam during pregnancy may help to prevent low birth weight in babies and help to increase fetal weight during pregnancy.
2. Yams are rich in antioxidants
Yams are rich in beta carotene and Vitamin C. Being high in antioxidants, eating yam helps to fight common illnesses during pregnancy. It also helps reduce the risk of cancer and prevent oxidative stress.
3. May help to treat morning sickness
Morning sickness is one of the most common and exasperating pregnancy symptoms experienced by the majority of mothers. Vitamin B6 plays a vital role in relieving nausea and vomiting. Yam contains a good amount of vitamin B6 and can help treat morning sickness, thus can be added in your list of snacks to combat morning sickness.
4. Helps to enhance cardiac health
Vitamin B6 is one of the vital nutrients that enhance heart health. Likewise, potassium is an important mineral that enhances the strength of blood vessels. Yams are an excellent source of vitamin B 6 and potassium.
Therefore, eating yam during pregnancy helps to strengthen the heart and regulate blood pressure. High BP during pregnancy can bring about serious complications.
5. Helps prevent anemia
Anemia is a common problem during pregnancy. As the blood volume increases around 50% during pregnancy, pregnant women are prone to anemia. Yams are a good source of minerals such as copper, zinc, and iron. Copper and iron are essential for red blood cell formation. Likewise, it is found that a decrease in trace elements like zinc may hinder iron absorption. Thus, eating yam may help prevent or reduce the chances of anemia in pregnant women.
6. Good food for gestational diabetes
For women with gestational diabetes, there will be various food limitations. Foods with a high glycaemic index are a no-no since they cause blood sugar levels to increase. Yam, being high in fiber and an excellent source of complex carbs, will not cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Yam is a good choice for pregnant women with gestational diabetes due to its low glycaemic index.
7. Helps to prevent constipation
Yams contain healthy starch, which is easy to digest. Plus, this root vegetable is loaded with dietary fiber. Pregnancy is a time when the raging hormones and growing uterus take a toll on the digestive system, especially during the second and third trimesters. Therefore, eating yam during pregnancy second trimester and third trimester helps promote digestion and reduce the risk of constipation.
8. Helps to enhance fetal immunity
The fetus gains immunity through the nutrients in the mother’s food. The mother needs to eat vitamin A-rich food as this vitamin is very important for the baby’s immune system to stay healthy and strong. Yam contains a considerable amount of vitamin A. So including yam in the pregnancy diet helps to enhance the immunity of the unborn baby.
9. May lower the risk of neural tube defects
Yams are a decent source of folic acid. Intake of folic acid is very important to neural tube defects in the baby. Thus, eating yams during pregnancy first trimester may help protect the baby from contracting neural tube defects
10. Strengthen the bones
It is important to maintain good bone health throughout pregnancy. You must incorporate calcium-rich foods in your pregnancy meal. Calcium is required for the growth of the developing fetus. If the calcium intake during pregnancy is insufficient, the fetus will drain calcium from the mother’s bone.
Related Reading: Brown Rice During Pregnancy- Benefits, And Precautions
This lowers mothers’ bone density, rendering them more prone to osteoporosis in the future. Yams are an excellent source of calcium, and incorporating them into your pregnancy diet helps to increase your calcium consumption.
11. Prevents premature birth
One of the main causes of premature birth is iron deficiency. Therefore, it is important to eat iron-rich food during pregnancy. Yams are an excellent source of iron. Thus, including yam in your diet can aid in the prevention of preterm delivery.
Related Reading: 13 Health Problems That May Affect Premature Babies
12. Regulates metabolism
Maternal metabolism changes markedly during pregnancy. B vitamins are very important to enhance metabolism. Yams are rich in B vitamins. Therefore, make it a part of the pregnancy diet.
Risks And Precautions Of Yams During Pregnancy
Luckily, eating yam in moderation has no significant negative effects during pregnancy. You should, however, proceed with care. Yam might have certain negative side effects if not consumed in moderation.
Here are some things to consider before incorporating yam into your pregnant diet.
Risks of eating yam:
1. Eating Yam can aggravate kidney stones
Pregnant women who are prone to kidney stones should ask the doctor before including this tuber vegetable in their pregnancy diet. Yam contains small amounts of oxalate that can increase the risk of kidney stones.
2. Yam may trigger gastric issues
Pregnant women who are prone to stomach problems should avoid eating yam. In those with a weakened digestive system, yam can cause nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and headache.
3. Stay away from wild yam during pregnancy
There are many controversies about having wild yam during pregnancy. Those who advocate against using it during pregnancy state that as yam can influence the hormone levels of women, it might trigger uterine contractions.
However, the impact of wild yams on pregnancy outcomes is not fully studied. Pregnancy is a time one should not take any risks. Therefore, avoid eating wild yams during pregnancy.
4. Eating elephant foot yam might aggravate asthmatic symptoms
Expecting mothers with asthma and sinus problems should avoid eating elephant foot yam during early pregnancy. This is because the cooling property of elephant foot yam might aggravate pre-existing health problems such as bronchitis, sinus infections, asthma, or a cold. Elephant foot yam also has an itchy property, and one may experience irritation in their mouth and throat after eating it.
Related Reading: Top 10 Protein-Rich Foods For Pregnancy
Precautions while eating yam during pregnancy:
Here are some precautions to take while including yam in the pregnancy diet
1. Always eat freshly cooked yams
During pregnancy, aim to consume freshly cooked yams as soon as they are cooked. Leaving cooked yams out can allow germs to thrive in it, resulting in food poisoning. Food poisoning during pregnancy can bring about serious complications. Avoid eating refrigerated yams. The longer the cooked yam sits in your refrigerator, the more likely they will be contaminated by pathogenic microorganisms.
2. Never eat uncooked yam
Yams should never be eaten raw since they contain some poisonous natural plant compounds. To eliminate these elements, we should peel and boil yam before consuming.
3. Store yam properly
If not stored correctly, yam can cause food poisoning. Yams should be stored in a cool, dry area with good ventilation. Never store it in the refrigerator. Once cooked, if you want to store it for a longer period, you can freeze it in an airtight container.
Ways To Eat Yam
Because of their versatility, you can easily add this tuber vegetable into your pregnant diet. You can boil, steam, bake, roast, or fry yam. You can use yam to prepare both sweet and spicy dishes.
Here are some popular ways to eat yams:
- Yam fries during pregnancy makes a yummy snack
- One can use it in stews and soups
- Roasted yam makes an appealing side dish for rice and roti
Pregnant women are constantly concerned about the consequences of what they eat and drink on their developing fetus. Yam, like many other vegetables, is high in vital minerals and vitamins. Hence these root vegetables promote a healthy pregnancy. It is okay to include it in your pregnant diet. But don’t forget to cook it well enough!