Consuming Sweet Potatoes in Pregnancy

Sweet potatoes kept on a wooden table

Balanced diets almost seem like a thing of the past, given the prevalence of fast food and ready to eat meals. If you work full-time, eating home-cooked healthy meals might be difficult. However, when it comes to pregnancy, your health is non-negotiable. Now that you’re eating for two, do understand that it is not just quantity that matters but also quality. Certain foods are to be avoided, but most fruits and vegetables are quite nutritious and recommended. One of them is sweet potato. This will help you understand the benefits of consuming sweet potatoes during pregnancy as well as any associated risks.

Is Eating Sweet Potato Safe during Pregnancy?

The first few months of pregnancy require a diet rich in nutrients to support the development of your fetus, while your later months will be focused on eating enough to keep your baby at a healthy weight. Can you eat sweet potato during pregnancy? The answer is yes. Sweet potatoes are best when it comes to providing energy in the form of starch. While they lack proteins and fats, they are well-stocked with various nutrients that are great for you and your baby.

Nutritional Value of Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes

The table below provides the nutritional value of one cup or 200 grams of cooked sweet potato.

Which nutrient? How much? Daily Required Amount (%)
Vitamin A 1.9 milligrams 210
Vitamin C 39.2 milligrams 50
Manganese 1 milligram 51
Copper 0.3 milligrams 35
Vitamin B5 1.8 milligrams 36
Pyridoxine 0.6 milligrams 35
Vitamin B7 8.6 micrograms 30
Dietary Fibre 6.6 grams 27
Niacin 3 milligrams 20
Thiamine 0.2 milligrams 19
Riboflavin 0.2 milligrams 15


Health Benefits of Sweet Potato

Listed below are a few sweet potato benefits in pregnancy.

  1. Vitamin A

Doctor’s recommend that pregnant women consume at least 800 micrograms of vitamin A per day. This can be obtained from less than half a cup of baked sweet potato. Vitamin A is crucial in foetal development, such as the growth of organs like the heart, lungs, liver, blood, kidneys, and so on.

  1. Fibre

While not having any nutritional qualities, fibre provides the digested food with bulk and roughage, helping pregnant women reduce the risks of constipation, a common problem. The recommended amount is around 30 grams of daily fibre, around a third of which can be obtained from a single cup of sweet potatoes.

  1. Pyridoxine

Pyridoxine, also called Vitamin B6, is essential for the formation of a functioning brain and nervous system in the foetus. It is needed to produce blood and has been known to prevent morning nausea in pregnant women. A cup of sweet potato will have around a third of the required daily amount of pyridoxine.

  1. Manganese

A cup of sweet potatoes will give you nearly half the amount of manganese required per day. Manganese is a rare mineral which is used by the foetus’ body to develop bones and cartilage.

  1. Vitamin C

Around 90 mg of Vitamin C is recommended per day for pregnant women. A single cup of sweet potato will provide at least a third of that amount. Vitamin C has various roles, such as promoting enzyme activity, bone and tendon growth, skin development and so on. Further, it also speeds up the absorption of iron, which is required in the formation of red blood cells.

Risks of Consuming Sweet Potato Daily during Pregnancy

  • Overconsumption of sweet potatoes can lead to a condition known as Hypervitaminosis A. In this case; it can result in foetal abnormalities, such as physical defects, severe liver damage, miscarriages, preterm births or even stillbirths.
  • Sweet potatoes are high in oxalates, which are the number one cause of kidney stones in the body. This could lead to severe pain and impairment of kidney and gallbladder functions.
  • Mannitol, a special kind of sugar, is present in sweet potatoes and can cause stomach aches if you are sensitive. It can also lead to gas and diarrhoea.
  • Finally, as sweet potatoes are starch-based, they can affect people whose diets are restricted, such as diabetics or overweight people and so on. Boiling sweet potatoes instead of baking them will lower the amount of sugar present.

Sweet potatoes are a delicious and healthy treat for both of you, however, please ensure you do not eat them in excess. Eating for you and your child might be confusing, but as long as you stick to home cooked meals full of green veggies, fresh fruits, whole grains and a healthy protein source, there is no need for concern.