Pregnant? Study Says You May Want to Cut Back on Potatoes

posted: 01/20/16
by: Mara Betsch

Pregnant women have to be careful about their diets -- they are growing another human being, after all. It's common practice to eat lots of healthy fruits and vegetables and to limit caffeine and avoid raw fish, certain cheeses, and alcohol. And, according to a recent study, there's a new food to cut back on -- potatoes.

According to a recent study from the National Institutes of Health found that women who ate five or more servings of potatoes a day -- whether there were boiled, baked, fried, or mashed -- had a 50 percent higher risk at developing gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes, which affects about 9 percent of pregnant women, often correlates with eating foods with high glycemic indexes, liked baked goods, white bread, and pasta. This study was one of the first to look at how potatoes affect pregnancy, and though it didn't find a cause-and-effect relationship, the correlation should be taken seriously.

The study looked at more than 15,000 women who did not have diabetes or other chronic conditions prior to becoming pregnant. Researchers assessed their diets every four years, and, after 10 years, they found an interesting relationship between eating potatoes and gestational diabetes. Even after adjusting for age, weight, and other factors, the researchers found that eating two to four servings of potatoes per week increased the risk of diabetes by 27 percent and eating more than five servings increased a woman's risk by 50 percent.

But before you swear off potatoes, keep in mind that perhaps eating potatoes, especially fried ones, could be indicative of other poor diet choices. And by no means do you need to swear off carbs. You can opt for whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat bread, which won't spike your blood sugar as much. The study also found that by swapping two servings of potatoes a week for vegetables, legumes, or whole grains can reduce a women's risk of gestational diabetes by 9 to 12 percent.