Can Pregnant Women Eat Potatoes?

Eating a healthy diet is important for everyone, but it becomes even more so when you are pregnant. This is because you need more nutrients to support your condition and, in terms of quality, you really are eating for two. What goes into your mouth affects your baby's health as well as your own. You will have to avoid certain foods during pregnancy, but potatoes are not one of them.

A paper bag spilling potatoes onto a wood table. (Image: AndrisTkachenko/iStock/Getty Images)

Pregnancy Diet Basics

Your diet in the first half of pregnancy should focus on high-quality nutrients to assist with fetal development and to maintain your own well-being. In the second half, quantity becomes important to ensure that your baby grows to a healthy birth weight. However, that doesn't mean you should eat twice as much food as you would normally. If were a healthy weight before becoming pregnant, you won't need any extra calories in your first trimester. You can increase your intake by around 300 calories in your second trimester and by about 450 in your third trimester.

Benefits of Potatoes

Potatoes are known as a starchy carbohydrate, which means they are often eliminated from the body-conscious person's menu. But they are actually low in fat and calories while providing a rich source of dietary fiber and vitamins B-6 and C. They are also high in folate, which is particularly important during pregnancy because it reduces the risk of your baby developing brain and spine problems.

Potatoes During Pregnancy

Your baby's main source of energy in the womb is glucose, which is found in carbohydrate foods such as potatoes. The Swiss Association for Nutrition (SAN) recommends three to four portions of carbohydrates every day during pregnancy, which may include potatoes, as well as bread, rice, pasta, cereal – all of which should ideally be whole-grain varieties. The size of your carbohydrate portions will depend on the stage of your pregnancy and how physically active you are. The further along you are, and the more exercise you do, the bigger your portions may be – remembering the calorie guidelines set out above.

Preparing Potatoes

Many people think of potatoes in terms of French fries and baked potatoes dripping with melted cheese, so it's not surprising they aren't always considered a healthy food. This is not the way you should eat potatoes to get the most out of them, during pregnancy or at any other time. SAN recommends that you limit your consumption of fried, fatty foods to one meal and to no more than 2 tsp. of grease or cooking oil a day. Try steaming or baking your potatoes and flavoring them with herbs instead of oil, butter or cheese.

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