They are quintessentially a comfort food, but potatoes - whether they are mashed, fried, baked, or even boiled - might not be the best thing to nourish you while you are pregnant. Women who ate potatoes more than five times a week are 50% more at risk for developing gestational diabetes according to a new study from The National Institutes of Health.
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While the study didn't dig deep enough to determine the cause between potatoes and gestational diabetes, doctors are stressing that it is more important than ever to keep a balanced diet.
Gestational diabetes, a problem that faces almost 10% of pregnant women, has been linked to eating foods that have a high glycemic index and the ability to raise blood sugar levels. Most women find out they have the condition at around 24 weeks.
"The more women consumed potatoes, the greater risk they had for gestational diabetes," Dr. Cuilin Zhang, a senior researcher at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, told Health Day. "Potatoes are regarded as a kind of vegetable, but not all vegetables are healthy."
The study looked at the health records of 15,632 women between 1991 and 2001 who did not have any chronic diseases before they were pregnant. The women were assessed on the consumption of potatoes and other foods every four years. In that study, there were 854 women who had gestational diabetes in the 21,693 pregnancies. After looking at things like age, weight, and diet, the researchers found that women who ate 2-4 3.5 ounce servings of any type of potatoes had a 27% increased risk for the condition.
Women who ate more than five servings saw their risk increase by 50 percent.
The risk was reduced for women who replaced those potatoes with vegetables, legumes, or whole grain foods.
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"This study does not prove that eating potatoes before pregnancy will increase a woman's risk developing gestational diabetes, but it does highlight a potential association between the two," Dr. Emily Burns, a researcher at Diabetes UK said. "However, as the researchers acknowledge, these results need to be investigated in a controlled trial setting before we can know more. What we do know is that women can significantly reduce their risk of developing gestational diabetes by managing their weight through eating a healthy, balanced diet and keeping active."