Pregnancy brings a whirlwind of miraculous and unexpected experiences to a future mom’s life. And a brand new pregnancy diet is one of them! A well-balanced food regime is key to support the growth and development of the unborn baby. So, it’s important to consume the right foods such as sweet potatoes – those rich in vitamins, like folate and minerals like iron, but low in added sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Sweet potatoes have been booming in popularity steadily for quite some time now. Their high-nutritional content and satiety index have caused this root vegetable to gain considerable attention. But are sweet potatoes good for pregnant women and are there risks of eating sweet potatoes during pregnancy?
Today we are tackling these common questions. So keep reading to learn about how sweet potatoes affect your pregnancy diet and the health benefits of eating sweet potatoes during pregnancy!
Are Sweet Potatoes Good For Pregnancy?
The excellent news is sweet potatoes are a great pregnancy food! Sweet potatoes are high in essential nutrients and vitamins, meaning they can support the process of fetal growth and development. They’re even considered one of the best foods to include in a pregnancy diet from some sources.
So, what’s the nutritional content of this root vegetable? A small 3.5-ounce serving of sweet potato has 86 calories, 1.6 grams of protein, 20.1 grams of carbs, 4.2 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 0.1 grams of fat. One serving is a good source of beta-carotene, potassium, manganese, and vitamin E. Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamin C and vitamin B6 other vital nutrients for pregnant women and a healthy diet.
Future moms are free to eat sweet potatoes daily, as long as they consume other non-starchy vegetables, fruits, protein, and fats to complement their diets. However, it’s best to limit your intake to no more than one cup of sweet potatoes per day (or one small-medium sweet potato) if you have a history of kidney problems, such as kidney stones. This is due to the high amounts of oxalates found in these root vegetables that could cause this side effect. Otherwise, it’s perfectly safe to eat sweet potatoes during pregnancy!
Sweet Potato Benefits During Pregnancy
Sweet potatoes help with morning sickness.
These root vegetables are rich in carbohydrates. Carbohydrate-rich foods are often better tolerated when nausea looms and nothing else sounds good. Sweet potatoes are a great nutrient-dense carb choice if you are battling it! If you want more information on how to combat morning sickness, read this article where I share my favorite tips.
They help with fetal growth and development.
Sweet potatoes contain vital nutrients for the baby’s fetal development, such as vitamins A, B, E, folate, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. They are also a source of vitamin C! That’s quite the nutritional cocktail! They also contain vitamin B6, called pyridoxine, which plays a huge role in the neurological growth and nervous system development of the fetus.
High amounts of vitamin A improve the immune system.
Pregnant women need at least 800 micrograms of vitamin A per day to support fetal development. This can be found in just half a cup of sweet potatoes! However, keep in mind, the vitamin A in sweet potatoes is in the form of beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A, and you will still need active forms of vitamin A in your diet like dairy or chicken. The beta-carotene content of sweet potatoes can help strengthen the immune system of you and your growing baby which is helpful to fight off colds during pregnancy.
These root veggies may help regulate blood pressure.
Potassium and again, vitamin A, are key nutrients when it comes to regulating your blood pressure. These two nutrients are found in sweet potatoes and help to maintain optimal cardiovascular health. They keep your blood pressure at a healthy level, preventing hypertension and other heart-related conditions.
Sweet potatoes protect future moms from anemia.
These root vegetables are rich in vitamin C and vitamin B6. Vitamin C helps to increase the absorption of iron, especially plant sources like pumpkin seeds. Vitamin B6 is involved in hemoglobin formation, so it is important you are consuming enough of it in combination with iron. Since pregnant women are prone to iron deficiencies, anemia can become a serious risk. Sweet potatoes are a great food to combine with all your high iron foods.
They help with brain and bone development.
As mentioned earlier in the post, pyridoxine or vitamin B6 aids the brain development of the growing baby. Another nutrient that plays a key role in fetal growth is vitamin C. This vitamin not only helps with anemia prevention but also contributes to healthy bone development in baby. It promotes optimal enzyme activity, skin and muscular tissue development, and bone and tendon growth. This is why pregnant women should consume at least 90 mg of vitamin C per day. One cup of sweet potato provides more than a third of that amount. So this vegetable has you covered!
Fiber-rich foods like sweet potatoes help to avoid constipation.
Fiber is well-known for improving digestion and gut health. And a common pregnancy problem is constipation. This can be prevented by eating the right diet and getting plenty of essential nutrients, like fiber, every day. The good news is that one cup of sweet potato gives you a third of the necessary 30 grams of daily fiber for pregnant women. Read this article on how to manage GI distress during pregnancy for more information on the subject.
They are great for pregnant people with gestational diabetes.
Sweet potatoes aren’t only delicious, they also have a low glycemic index which means they won’t contribute to a huge rise in your blood sugar. Sweet potatoes are a great example of one way you can enjoy carb-rich foods, get a ton of nutrients, and avoid a blood sugar spike. These root veggies have high amounts of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant, as well. Studies show this polyphenolic compound improves insulin resistance and prevents obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Sweet potatoes can help to reduce inflammation.
As previously mentioned, sweet potatoes contain antioxidants like anthocyanins. Besides anthocyanins, which are higher in purple sweet potatoes, beta-carotene and chlorogenic acid are two other antioxidants contained in sweet potatoes. Antioxidants are key in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation which contribute to the development of preeclampsia during pregnancy. As you can see, sweet potatoes have a lot to offer us when pregnant. Throw some diced sweet potatoes in with your favorite leafy greens and protein to make a real antioxidant paradise.
Sweet potatoes can be incorporated into your diet in so many ways.
Baked, in fry form, in a casserole, or in a grain bowl are just a few ways to use sweet potatoes, but really there are a ton of ways to use them. You can even create a more nutrient-filled dessert-type dish by making mashed sweet potatoes with maple syrup and marshmallows; have you had this at Thanksgiving? One of my favorite ways to use sweet potatoes is diced and roasted alongside Brussels sprouts with a side of leafy greens!
How To Eat Sweet Potato During Pregnancy
Sweet potatoes are a versatile food that can be made sweet or savory as part of a meal or snack. You can incorporate them into nearly any dish! Some of the ways you can enjoy sweet potatoes include:
- Steamed and topped with greek yogurt, smashed avocado, cheese, or nut butter
- As a base for a protein + fat pairing (such as chicken and avocado, or ground beef and cheese)
- Chopped up and added to any salad or grain bowl
- Roasted on a pan with olive oil and other veggies, such as Brussel sprouts
- Sliced and roasted in the oven as fries
- Mashed and whipped with melted butter
- As sweet potato nachos
- Topped with BBQ Pulled Pork
- In a sweet potato casserole
- As Asian stir fry noodles
- With a baked egg inside
- In oatmeal
Are sweet potatoes part of your pregnancy diet?
Now we have answered the question, “Is it safe to eat sweet potatoes during pregnancy?” and you know sweet potatoes are actually a delicious and nutritious pregnancy food! The essential nutrients found in this starchy vegetable are key components to the growth and development of your growing baby. If you are looking for a nutrient-dense carbohydrate to keep you energized and healthy during pregnancy, you found it!
Will you be including sweet potatoes in your pregnancy diet? Let me know in the comments! And, make sure to visit our app, The Prenatal Nutrition Library, for more information on exactly what to eat to have a healthy pregnancy!