If pregnancy is in your plan, it’s best to cut potatoes from your diet (yes, including French fries). Eating lots of spuds in the months before conception is the pathway to gestational diabetes, which can affect both the mother and baby’s long-term health, according to new research published in the British Journal of Medicine.
Affecting infants at birth, gestational diabetes causes low blood sugar and breathing problems. The condition can be fatal before birth or soon afterward, also raising long-term heart and diabetes risks for both the mother and child.
The study analyzed 21,693 pregnancies over a 10-year period and reported that women who regularly ate two to four cups of potatoes a week before pregnancy saw a 27 percent higher risk of gestational diabetes. The risk skyrocketed to 50 percent for those who ate five or more cups per week—whether or not she was obese or had other risk factors involving age, family history, diet quality, BMI and family history of diabetes.
"Potatoes are regarded as a kind of vegetable, but not all vegetables are healthy," said senior author Cuilin Zhang, a senior investigator with the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, whose study was conducted in conjunction with Harvard University. While potatoes are very nutritious, the high starch content is quickly absorbed in the bloodstream, causing a spike in blood sugar that leads to insulin resistance and diabetes.
So what can a health-conscious mom eat before and during pregnancy? There’s a long list of tasty foods to choose from: whole grains, lean protein, berries, citrus fruits, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, organic pasture-raised eggs, beans, lentils, avocados, leafy greens, wild salmon, walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, asparagus and organic Greek yogurt. You won’t even miss the spuds!