A new study has found that pre-pregnancy potato consumption is linked with a higher risk of gestational diabetes. Researchers found the risk of gestational diabetes increased 27 percent if a woman consumed two to four cups of potatoes weekly prior to pregnancy. Consuming five or more cups of potatoes weekly seemed to increase the risk of gestational diabetes by 50 percent.
Senior author Dr. Cuilin Zhang said, “The more women consumed potatoes, the greater risk they had for gestational diabetes. Potatoes are regarded as a kind of vegetable, but not all vegetables are healthy.”
Potatoes are widely consumed and are the third most common food after rice and wheat. Although potatoes do contain some nutritional value such as being high in potassium, vitamin C and fiber, they are also rich in simple carbohydrates which get broken down and easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
A cup of potatoes can send blood sugar levels skyrocketing equal to consuming a can of soda or a handful of jelly beans. High blood sugar, overtime, can lead to insulin resistance which contributes to type 2 diabetes.
For the study researchers looked at 16,000 women part of a national health study of female nurses. During a 10-year follow-up period researchers noted nearly 900 cases of gestational diabetes which occurred from nearly 22,000 single-birth pregnancies.
By reviewing food questionnaires that is where researchers found the link between potato consumption and gestational diabetes.
The researchers suggest that the risk of gestational diabetes could be lowered by at least nine to 12 percent if women would swap out two servings of potatoes every other week with another vegetable or whole grain.
Zhang added, “Women planning for pregnancy should reduce their consumption of potatoes. What moms eat can potentially affect the health of their babies.”
The findings were published in BMJ.