Potatoes during pregnancy: apparently they’re a bad starch to chow down on when there’s a bun in your oven.
Potatoes are one of the most popular starches in the Western world. French fries are a staple of our culture, but unfortunately they’re not the best starch on the market… and science is proving that they’re even more worrisome for pregnant women.
According to a new study published in the British Medical Journal, eating potatoes while pregnant can drastically increase your risk of gestational diabetes.
A team of researchers at the National Institutes for Health found that women who ate potatoes while pregnant had a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. The researchers examined data from over 10 years, looking at over 850 cases of gestational diabetes from out of over 21,000 pregnancies. The results were fascinating:
- The women who ate no potatoes while pregnant were the control group
- The women who ate 1 serving of potatoes per week while pregnant had a 20% higher risk of gestational diabetes
- The women who ate 2 to 4 servings had a 27% higher risk
- The women who ate 5 or more servings of potatoes per week had a 50% higher chance of developing gestational diabetes
It all comes down to the carbs in the potatoes!
Potatoes are fairly high in starch, a form of carbohydrates that your body is easily able to absorb, send to the liver, and turn into glucose. Potatoes are a great source of quick-acting energy, as there is very little fiber to slow down absorption. This lack of fiber, however, is the cause of the problem. With no fiber to slow the rate at which your body breaks down and absorbs the starch, you end up with much higher blood sugar levels than you would if you ate a high-fiber food–like an apple or brown rice. This is called the Glycemic Load.
Potatoes are fairly high on the Glycemic Load chart, and they can lead to high blood sugar levels very soon after consumption. That boost of quick energy they provide can backfire, leading to a spike in blood sugar which triggers insulin production to control the sugar. The constant fluctuation in blood sugar levels is what leads to diabetes–or, in this case, gestational diabetes.
So, what’s the takeaway from all this? Simple: be careful with your potato consumption!
Yes, potatoes are delicious, but they’re not as healthy as you’d think. Eating them can lead to health problems, especially if you consume them in excess. You’ll find that eating a lot of potatoes can cause those spikes and crashes in blood sugar that can lead to diabetes. As this study shows, pregnant women should avoid potatoes as much as possible during their pregnancy. It’s vital to avoid anything that can increase your risk of pregnancy complications, and if it means simply cutting one food from your diet, it’s certainly not too much to ask. It’s not just your health on the life, but that of your baby too!