Can Pregnant Women Eat Root Vegetables?

Baked potatoes with cheese
Potatoes are a nutritious, affordable addition to your pregnancy diet. (Image: Radu Sebastian/iStock/Getty Images)

A nutrient-rich, well-rounded diet can help women have a healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. Your pregnancy diet should include a wide variety of foods from all the food groups, including vegetables. Add root vegetables to your meal plan as an affordable way to include many essential nutrients, increasing your health and your baby's health.

Root Vegetables

Vegetables are generally considered root vegetables if they are the edible part of the plant that grows underground. True root vegetables include carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, rutabaga, radish, jicama, cassava and ginger. Root vegetables that are actually modified plant stems include the familiar tubers like potatoes, while bulb-type root vegetables include onions, garlic and shallots.

Nutrients

Root vegetables encompass a wide variety of foods and, therefore, add numerous nutrients to your pregnancy diet. According to the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, one 110 calorie medium potato, with the skin, delivers nearly half your daily requirement for vitamin C, 2 g of fiber, potassium and antioxidants like carotenoids and anthocyanins. Carrots also pack a nutritional punch as one of the best sources of vitamin A and beta carotene; they are also a good source of vitamin C and fiber. According to The National Onion Association, the frequently used onion is a good source of vitamins C and B-6, folate, potassium, manganese and fiber, all while supplying only 64 calories and no fat per one cup serving size.

Toxoplasmosis

Pregnant women are often warned to not change kitty litter boxes while pregnant due to the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis, an infection cause by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. PubMed Health notes that cats are the definitive carriers of toxoplasmosis, but that the parasite is found in many animal species worldwide. Handling raw or undercooked meat can transmit the parasite, as can eating contaminated soil, which may be why some pregnant women are warned against eating root vegetables. Since root vegetables are grown underground, soil particles can cling to their skin. Control your exposure to toxoplasmosis by thoroughly washing and even lightly scrubbing your root vegetables with a vegetable brush, or by thinly peeling the outer skin from the vegetable. You do not need to remove root vegetables from your diet completely.

Congenital Toxoplasmosis

Congenital toxoplasmosis occurs when the fetus is infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii through the pregnant mother. While the mother may experience mild symptoms, the infection in the fetus can cause serious problems. Premature delivery occurs in up to half of babies infected with the parasite and can cause problems with the baby's eyes, ears, skin or nervous system development. Babies in the womb and who are born with the infection can be treated to reduce complications later in life, should symptoms be strong enough to indicate a potential infection. Cutting root vegetables from your pregnancy diet is not a prevention recommendation, according to PubMed Health, though washing your hands carefully after handling raw or undercooked meat is a recommendation.

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