Potato Consumption Linked to Gestational Diabetes Risk

If you eat more potatoes during pregnancy, you may have higher risk for gestational diabetes, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health.

Gestational diabetes occurs when a mom's blood sugar levels are high while pregnant - a condition that can lead to health complications down the road for both the baby and the mother.

While previous studies have linked high-glycemic index foods to an increased risk for gestational diabetes, this is the first study to examine how potatoes, specifically, might affect this relationship.

Healthier substitutions

More than 15,000 women were part of the study, which surveyed them on their eating habits - specifically when it came to potatoes.

The women were asked if they consumed baked, boiled or mashed potatoes, fries or potato chips, as well as how often they consumed these foods.

Women who ate more potatoes had a higher risk for gestational diabetes, but this association can be reversed if women substitute potatoes for other foods, the researchers reported.

For every two servings of potatoes each week, substituting vegetables, legumes or whole grain foods may be enough to avoid blood sugar complications.

On the glycemic index (GI) scale - which measures how quickly foods raise blood sugar - white potatoes have a higher GI than sweet potatoes, so the latter may be a healthier option for both pregnant women and people concerned about their blood sugar.

Source: NIH/EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF CHILD HEALTH AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

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